Precedent Units as a Means of Manipulation in Ukrainian Religious Media Discourse: Psycholinguistic Approach

Keywords: precedent unit, precedent phenomena, religious media discourse, manipulative impact, techniques of verbal manipulation.


Objective. The aim of the article is to identify and analyze the functions of precedent units in Ukrainian religious media discourse, with a particular focus on their manipulative impact on the addressee. The research is based on the interviews and analytic reviews from web portals “RISU”, “Religion in Ukraine”, “The Catholic Observer”, “Union of Orthodox Journalists”, official web-sites of UOC (MP) and UOC (KP) and respective YouTube channels over the period of 2014 through 2018.

Methods. For the purposes of our research we have used the following linguistic and psycholinguistic methods: content-analysis – to identify and analyze discourse fragments, which exert a manipulative impact on the addressee by appealing to precedent phenomena, discourse-analysis – to define, classify and analyze the verbal tactics and discursive techniques, which seek to influence the addressee’s cognitive and behavioral domains to the advantage of the addresser.

Results. We have found out that introducing precedent units is one of the means of hidden manipulative impact on multi-confessional audience (78.0% of the precedent units). The manipulative impact is exerted by the addresser primarily by appealing to emotive precedent phenomena with the purpose of configuring the emotional reaction of the addressee and affecting his or her behavior towards the representatives of other confessions and jurisdictions. The major source spheres of precedent units in religious media discourse have been identified as “religion”, “history”, “politics and society”, “fiction literature”. The research reveals that precedent names and phrases are subject to various transformations in the discourse, thus acquiring negative evaluative semantics (19.0% of the precedent units). Common transformations include the use of precedent name in the plural (13.0%), truncation of precedent name (18.0%), expansion of precedent name or precedent phrase (26.0%) and substitution of its components (43.0%). The precedent units with manipulative potential are used in order to criticize, taunt, accuse and defame opponents by associating them with precedent phenomena, especially historic personalities, heroes of fiction literature and movies. Appealing to precedent phenomena is combined with the manipulative means of referring to ideological mythologems, labeling, use of emotional slogans, vilifying others, black and white depiction, misuse of concepts.

Conclusions. Religious cross-confessional media discourse is firmly rooted in polemical principles, which include apology of one’s views and defamation of the opponents, thus acquiring features of manipulative discourse. Further studies in this area could focus on the research of perception and interpretation of precedent units by the addressee with the use of experimental psycholinguistic methods. Another promising line of research would be the development of methods of protection against the manipulative impact in cross-confessional religious discourse.


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Levko, O. (2020). Precedent Units as a Means of Manipulation in Ukrainian Religious Media Discourse: Psycholinguistic Approach. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, 28(2), 99-127.