Kneeling Heroes, Standing Heroes: the role of identity discourses in the national anthem controversy

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: The controversy over the national anthem protests became the latest battleground in an ongoing ´Culture war´ to define American identity. Domestic debates are where the content of common identity is negotiated, in this case the arguments made in the debate also taps into established discourses on identity. Building on a constructivist approach this thesis investigates the discursive production and negotiation of common identity in media coverage of the national anthem protests. This is done by carrying out a post-structuralist discourse analysis of reporting on the controversy in mainstream American news outlets. The case for the players right to protest is made with reference to America as nation of civic values, while the case against the protesters is made with reference to America as a nation of militarized patriotism, united in response to the perception of foreign threats. What discourse on identity prevails will impact the American politics both domestically and abroad. Emphasis on freedom or security would likely have implications for the ongoing balancing of personal integrity and collective security, as well as Americas proneness to military spending and action.

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