Interaction goals in political accounts in isiXhosa

Mokapela, Sebolelo Agnes (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2008-03)

Thesis (DLitt (African Languages))--University of Stellenbosch, 2008.


This study deals with research that has been conducted within three government departments (Education, Health and Social Development) that form part of the social needs cluster in the Province of the Eastern Cape. Five portfolio committee members were interviewed in each department (six in the department of Health). Reproaches (failures and challenges of service delivery and policy implementation) were developed using information obtained from the “policy and budget speeches” of the afore-mentioned departments. In response to these reproaches, committee members had to give accounts (responses, explanations and/or reason-giving). Four types of accounts (concession, excuse, denial and justification) which are typical political accounts have proved to be quite popular and focus has been given to them in the analysis. The focus on the analysis of the accounts was given to effectiveness, argumentation (reasons or arguments that are tendered in support of the accounts to establish the amount of persuasiveness) and politeness. The conclusions of the findings in the interviews were focused on three elements: 􀂃 The interviewee: The analyses of the interviewees were discussed with regard to the accounts together with the number of arguments given. Each reproach was analyzed within an overview of the type of account with regard to three criteria: effectiveness, argumentation and politeness. The analyses of the interviewees were discussed individually with the help of tables of each interviewee. The focus was on the accounts of justification and excuses. The interview was judged on two parameters: i. The number of accounts each interviewee has used with regard to the three criteria above. ii. A comparison was made to establish the relative merit of the interviewees among themselves. 􀂃 The reproach: various reproaches in the three departments were discussed separately with regard to the number of accounts and arguments in each reproach. The focus was mainly on the accounts of justification and excuse. A summary was given of the various reproaches with the four major types of accounts. The same criteria of effectiveness, argumentation and politeness were used. Judgment was given on the reproach or reproaches which have shown the most attention in the interviews with regard to the total number of accounts which have been used. 􀂃 The account: various justifications and excuses which have been used in the interactions were discussed with regard to effectiveness, argumentation and politeness. The judgment was made as to which type of account was mostly favored by the interviewees. Implications of the research were discussed with regard to a comparative overview of the political accounts in reproaches with specific attention to the type and frequency of the account as well as possible reasons for this type of preferred account. Four types of accounts have been used consistently in the interviews and among these four types, justifications (36.6%) and excuses (46.1%) are generally favored by all politicians who were involved in the interviews. These accounts are quite popular among politicians because they work in their favor as they are employed to reframe the consequences of the act with the ultimate aim of changing negative perceptions about the policies of the department and/or government (justifications) and to deny any responsibility and/or causal link between the politician and the undesirable outcome of the policy and thereby implying that there is no need for reproach (excuse).

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