The Politics of Victimage: Power and Subjection in a US Anti-Gay Campaign

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This paper articulates a genealogical approach to critical discourse analysis derived from Michel Foucault and Kenneth Burke. The possibilities of this approach are displayed through a case study of the discourses produced by the 1994 anti-gay, ‘no special rights’ initiative in Idaho (USA). Proponents of the initiative represented themselves as conservative Idaho citizens fighting a culture war to preserve traditional family values against a powerful, sexually perverse subject with a militant gay agenda. The analysis traces the emergence and dynamic interplay of antagonists' rhetorical moves and counter-moves in this closely fought battle. It shows how categories like ‘conservative’ can be reinterpreted and put into play in a new strategy.


Selected in 2012 as a key article for inclusion in “Traditions of Discourse and Discourse Analysis”, a Virtual Special Issues edition of Critical Discourse Studies.