Integrating a Nexus: the history of political discourse and language policy research

Historians of political discourse and language policy researchers should join forces to develop methods of textual analysis that help to integrate political and intellectual history. They could do so by focusing their analysis on interconnections between material realities, human physical action, practices and structures, as well as institutions and ideologies as discursive constructs. Such a version of soft constructivism underscoring the discursive nature of much of politics encourages historians to analyse past political discourses more systematically. Concepts such as nexus, historical body, mobility and discursive transfers borrowed from language research deepen our analytical understanding of the multi-level dynamics of policy-making, directing attention to links between various debates as well as to transnational transfers. Our empirical examples are derived from Swedish and Finnish constitutional debates in the last phase of the First World War, but similar research strategies are applicable to the analysis of political discourse in any context.