Keepers of the Language: The Political Language of Conservatism in Great Britain and West Germany, 1945–1980

Abgeschlossenes Projekt

Employees (IfZ):  Prof. Dr. Martina Steber

During the 1960s and 1970s, conservatives in the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom alike were challenged by deep cultural, social, and political changes, which they viewed as an all-encompassing crisis – a crisis of democracy, crisis of the nation, and crises in the economy and public morality. Conservatives even felt they had lost their own very language. The search for a conservatism that was appropriate to the time indeed involved a search for a suitable language. Beginning with the reorientation process of conservatism following 1945, Martina Steber undertakes a comparative analysis of this reformulation of conservative political language in intellectual circles, in journalism, and in political parties. Incorporating methods of historical semantics, the project understands conservatism as a relative and flexible semantic structure, investigating the structural principles of conservative language and the semantic networks characteristic of conservative speech as they change over time. The British and West German forms of conservatism, the two defining variants of European conservatism after 1945, are studied here at decisive transitional periods. Particular focus is placed here on the search for shared terms that would define the intensified cooperation among parties within the framework of the European process of integration.


Publications within the project

Martina Steber

Die Hüter der Begriffe.

Berlin 2017


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