Middle Class Alterity: A Critical Discourse Analysis of National Economic Identity
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Lacking concreteness and context, the use of the middle class in Canadian political discourse of recent years is simultaneously ambiguous and ubiquitous. What is meant by the middle class? Who is a member of this meta-material social stratification? Why is it so prominent in political rhetoric? And, what are the consequences of using the middle class as the primary identity guiding federal fiscal policy? With these questions in mind, this thesis explores the political discourse surrounding the usages of the middle class in an attempt to improve our understanding of how identity is operationalized discursively. Grounded in the theoretical work of Antonio Gramsci, it will be argued that discursively constructed identities, operationalized hegemonically through othering rhetoric, are used in politics to garner mass consent, frame individual/collective identity, and maintain structures of domination and oppression.