On the social construction of democracy: Modal rhetoric in former East & West German journalists’ post-reunification editorials

Carl W. Roberts*, Cornelia Zuell, Roel Popping

*Corresponding author for this work

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We report differences in political rhetoric within former East- and West-German journalists’ editorials written during the 7 years immediately following reunification. Whereas the former evoked frames inconsistently and disproportionately conveyed citizens’ possibilities during the 1994–1995 provincial, national, and European election period; the latter framed their rhetoric consistently and did so in overwhelmingly political terms. From these findings, we draw inferences on citizens’ mutual interpretations within authoritarian societies (what is permitted) versus functioning democracies (what is legal), suggesting that only the latter affords the basis for the social construction of democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1779-1797
Number of pages19
Issue number11
Early online date15-Apr-2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2020


  • Culture
  • democratization
  • frame
  • modality
  • rhetoric
  • social construction

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