Discursive pragmatics of justification in terrorist threat texts: Victim-blaming, denying, discrediting, legitimating, manipulating, and retaliation

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Abstract

This article explores the under-researched area of discursive tactics employed in terrorist threat texts that exploit moral values to constantly justify violence, fostering a ‘discourse of justification’, disaffiliation and conflict. Employing a discursive pragmatic analysis, it delves into the tactics of violent extremists associated with jihadism and far-right ideologies. Utilising the Appraisal framework and the ‘moral disaffiliation’ strategy, the study uncovers verbal practices shaping a dynamic of justification. Findings reveal threateners’ involvement in regulatory discursive functions – manipulation, deontic-retaliation, and boulomaic effect – and practices of ideologically positioning functions – discrediting, blaming, denying and (de)legitimating. The analysis highlights the construction of negative victim individuals and societies while praising the threatener/in-group, anchored predominantly in values of propriety, capacity, valuation and veracity, as the primary dynamic of threatener-victim disalignment. This study contributes insights into threatener profiling, motivations of violence and future research on threat-genre rhetorical structure analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalDiscourse and Society: an international journal for the study of discourse and communication in their social, political and cultural contexts
Early online date19 May 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 May 2024

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Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.

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