Face-attack in Political Discussions on Radio in the Context of Ghana’s 2016 Electioneering Period

Jemima Asabea Anderson[1] 

Rachel G. A. Thompson[2] 

Margaret Ivy Amoakohene[3] 

Vincent Tawiah[4] 

[1]  University of Ghana, Department of English, janderson@ug.edu.gh
[2]  University of Ghana, Language Centre, rthompson@ug.edu.gh (Corresponding author).
[3]  University of Ghana, School of Communication Studies, mamoakohene@ug.edu.gh
[4]  Dublin City University, Ireland, vincentkonadu@gmail.com


We examined insulting and offensive comments made by political actors and party sympathizers on radio as recorded by the Media Foundation for West Africa in the 2016 electioneering period in Ghana. Using the concepts of face and face attack, we found that rival politicians, members/affiliates of political parties and even journalists were attacked through face-threatening acts which include the use of name-calling expressions and derogatory adjectives. We identified face-attacking expressions in the form of attack on moral behaviour, attack on intellectual/mental ability, and attack on physical appearance/characteristics. As suggested by previous studies, face attacks block the free exchange of critical ideas which play a very important role in the development of democratic countries as many citizens would not want to get involved in discussions that threaten their self-image. We, therefore, recommend that political actors in Ghana desist from disrespecting people of divergent political backgrounds or persuasions and rather focus on substantive issues in their public speeches.

KeywordsElection; Face Attack; Politics; Free Speech; Democracy; Radio


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