Use of Language in the Construction of Opionions on Immigration: The Presence of a Generation Gap?
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This thesis aimed to observe people’s use of language when constructing views on immigrants. This was done by collecting people’s opinions on immigration using a one-to-one semi-structured interview technique. This study used discourse analysis to examine the use of linguistic techniques in language when constructing opinions on immigrants. This thesis adopted an additional approach by comparing two generations’ use of language when constructing opinions on immigration, to determine similarities or differences in their techniques. Examination of the interview transcripts was conducted using discourse analysis, which is most related to that used in discursive psychology (Potter & Edwards, 2001). From this, three themes were observed and the linguistic features used to construct these themes were identified. The first theme identified was playing down prejudice, and the use of the word just, modification and distancing self were all identified as linguistic techniques used in constructing this theme. The second theme was the prioritisation of the host country, and repetition, justification and presenting their opinions as imperatives were linguistic features used to construct this theme. The third theme was presenting immigrants negatively and the linguistic features present were stereotypical attributes and use of quantification. To compare the two generations’ use of language when constructing their views on immigration, responses to the question “in terms of prejudice views on immigrant groups, do you think that young people (like yourself) hold different views than older people (such as your grandparents)?” were analysed. This research observed no generation difference in the use of language to construct opinions on immigrants. The study concluded that through their use of language, when constructing views on immigrants, people are keen to play down or justify any prejudiced remarks or beliefs made in their speech.