Failure to ratify the European Constitution in France and in the Netherlands in June 2005 plunged the European Union into its most trenchant democratic deficit since its foundation. The EU clearly recognized the need to understand this lack of democratic legitimacy in terms of communicative action, and this entailed the question of communication policy as one of the dominant mediums by which 'to close the gap' with citizens and face this sense of alienation felt from Brussels. As a result, EU institutions are attempting more and more to forsake the institutional language stricto sensu, which leads the European Union to be perceived as 'faceless' without any clear public identity.
In addition, the recent trend of globalization has had a great impact on a variety of different domains; the result being that our contemporary world has been fostering the formation of a corporate-model to increase profit-making opportunities. This has given new impetus to the 'sale' of any kind of commodity as long as some form of benefit is produced. According to the critical linguistics framework, language reflects but also shapes social practices, encodes ideological meanings and provides one vision of reality which legitimates and strengthens the dominant discourse (Fairclough 1995).
Linguistic forms are never neutral, although they appear to be naturalized and automaticized, and they need to be closely analyzed in order to uncover ideological assumptions and highlight political strategies and mechanisms for generating consent expanding into private domains. The intentions and scope of this book is to analyze the rhetorical and pragmatic-linguistic strategies, from the point of view of both verbal and visual semiotics, adopted by the EU as far as the creation of its new 'image' is concerned, and uncover displacement of "communicative" practices with "strategic action" (Habermas 1987: 333), which in turn entails a purely instrumental rationality [Publisher's text].
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