Propaganda: A Framework For War

Kine Henriksen & Tue Juncker-Løndal

Student thesis: Termpaper


This study investigates the legitimization of politcal propositions, as well as the underlying logic of identity and categorisation that are at work in this legitimization. Through an analysis of two speeches, one by president Bush on the military investment in Afghanistan, one by president Obama on the intervention against the group known as Islamic State. The study is based on the hypothesis that these selected examples of political communication constitute propaganda in relation to the definition provided in the first theoretical part of the study. Bearing this in mind, the second part of the theoretical framework is constituted by Antonio Reyes strategies of legitmization, through which the selected speeches are analyzed, to discern how critical propositions such as war, are legitimized. Furthermore, prevalent examples of strategies of legitimization are given a closer look to see how these work within the theoretical notions on identity and categorisation provided by Birgitta Frello and Richard Jenkins, as well as within the cognitive system of framing theory, as laid out by George Lakoff. Throughout the analysis, the two main focal points are these strategies of legitimization and their effect in creating the ‘Other’ and the ‘Self’, of course with the definition of propaganda in mind. The results of the analysis are then brought forward into the discussion, where the definition of propaganda provided in the first part of the study is again included to critically discern whether the hypothesis proves to be correct. The main focus in this discussion is propaganda’s intrinsic manipulative nature, as well as the theoretical coincidences that enables and justifies the analysis in relation to this manipulation. General thought on how war is justified is also included in the discussion. The study finds that political agents, when legitimizing military intervention, need the process of ‘othering’ to create the representation of an enemy radically different from the ‘Self’. This representation is the primary catalyst for legitimizations through emotions, and oddly enough, through rationality. It is concluded that the selected speeches do constitute propaganda, again referring to the manipulation and shaping of perceptions of a mass audience as a constitutive part of propaganda.

EducationsCultural Encounter, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Undergraduate or graduate
Publication date18 Dec 2014
SupervisorsIda Meisling


  • linguistics
  • propaganda
  • identity
  • categorisation