ABSTRACT

This chapter answers the three decisive guiding questions of discourse analysis – (1) What happens in discourse? (content), (2) How is meaning constructed in the discourse? (references), and (3) Why? (reasons) – with regard to the French discourse and based on an analysis of the eight dimensions of discourses: (1) Course (topics, number of contributions/intensity, and major events), (2) Actors (persons or institutional actors who shape the discourse), (3) Rules (structure the course of the discourse and the sayability of utterances), (4) Levels of reference (political levels or substantive topic areas to which the discourse refers), (5) topic areas (content areas that the discourse touches upon), (6) Motifs (typical attributions of meaning for properties and motives for action), (7) Arguments (typical processes of attributing meaning, argumentation processes), and (8) References (relationships between motifs, topic areas, reference levels, rules, actors, or contextual factors that are constructed in the discourse). Analysis shows that the French 2005 EU discourse was very intense, but oriented on France and marked by a strong opposition between the “Yes” and the “No” camp. In the end, “No” arguments put forward by the left-wing informal coalition Non de Gauche prevailed in the discourse and in the vote.