Hebron University Journal - Hebron University Journal for Research - Volume 16, Issue 1, 2021 - Image Polishing in Trump’s Digital Campaign: The Case of Speech Act of Persuasion

Hebron University Research Journal



Trump is an exceptional politician and so was his 2016 campaign. He did not choose traditional methods of campaigning, but rather he has changed the way campaigns are run. The most prominent feature of his campaign was his constant attempts to polish his image. The current paper analyzed the speech act in his tweets as an attempt to reveal what techniques he used to polish his image and how he took advantage of the features of social media to reach this goal. This goal was accomplished by identifying the illocutionary point of 470 tweets that were selected from the verified account of Donald Trump according to their themes. After that, the way that the different illocutionary acts were used in shaping the mode of image polishing to fulfill the perlocutionary object of persuasion was clarified. Two developed taxonomies were used for analyzing the tweets. The first one was an integration between the taxonomies of Searle's classification of illocutionary acts and Bach and Harnish’s taxonomy of communicative and non-communicative illocutionary acts. The second one was a development of Aristotle modes, Cialdini’s principles, and Shabo's techniques of persuasion. The results showed that Trump concentrated on using the expressive and representative acts to gain the trust of the majority of the American people by turning their minds to his merits and Hillary’s drawbacks. He used the techniques of card stacking, retweeting anti-opponents tweets, and mudslinging to achieve negative-opponents representation. The techniques of retweeting supportive tweets and showing authority were used to achieve positive-self representation. The contrasting technique was used to achieve both negative-opponents and positive-self representation.

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