The aim of this thesis was to explore the use of language in one of the ways in which it manifests symbolic power (Bourdieu, 2001) in discourse and society. This study investigated the semantic-functional (van Leeuwen, 1995, 2007, 2008; van Leeuwen & Wodak, 1999) strategies used by Egyptian political actors to legitimize controversial events within their public discourse. By adopting a critical discourse analysis (CDA) perspective and utilizing van Leeuwen's legitimation framework (van Leeuwen, 2007, 2008), the analysis was performed on two Egyptian political speeches delivered by President Al Sisi. The first speech addressed the Egyptian government's decision to sign a maritime border agreement with Saudi Arabia announcing that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir are considered Saudi territories; a political issue. The second speech addressed the government's decision to cut the subsidies on utility bills; an economic issue. The results indicate that the legitimation strategies used to justify the electricity cuts were: rationalization (argument built on general moral motives and the utility of the decision), and moral evaluations (arguments built on moral values such as unity, or fairness). Whereas, the strategies that were used to legitimize the politically sensitive issue of the islands were: authorizations (arguments built on the authority of official bodies and documents), rationalizations (arguments built on truth), and moral evaluations (arguments built on moral values of fairness, public safety.). The results indicate that Egyptian political actors tend to present controversial decisions to the public in a way where said decisions are acceptable within the religious, cultural, or nationalistic values and norms while using minimal arguments that address the public's rational and objective judgement.


Applied Linguistics Department

Degree Name

MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2017

First Advisor

Agameya, Amira

Committee Member 1

Plumlee, Marilyn

Committee Member 2

Bassiouney, Reem


119 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item