chapter  3
26 Pages

Language and Power

John Thompson includes histories, films, novels and jokes as examples of the power of narrative to construct realities which represent the apparent order of things. For Thompson, trope or the use of figurative language, which enables parts to stand for wholes and wholes to stand for parts as well as the non-literal and metaphorical use of language, is the third powerful means of obfuscation. Reification is the last of Thompson's modes of operation of ideology. Thompson's modes of operation of ideology can also be used to design critical literacy activities for students. The strength of Thompson's theory of ideology is that it provides with powerful machinery for understanding the relationship between language, power and domination. The relation between unification and fragmentation is captured well in the irony inherent in the motto on the South African coat of arms being 'Unity is Strength', while apartheid, which epitomises difference, division and fragmentation, was its reigning political ideology.