Pertti Alasuutari, Valtteri Vähä-Savo, Laia Pi Ferrer
July 19, 2019
In national policymaking speakers commonly refer to models and policies adopted elsewhere as a means to justify a bill. However, empirical analysis of parliamentary talk in eight national parliaments (Argentina, Canada, Chile, Finland, Mexico, Russia, Spain and the USA) reported in this article showed an interesting relationship between two types of justifications: of the eight countries compared, the ones that rank lowest in references to the international community as means to justify or criticize domestic legislation rank highest in the frequency with which national self-image is evoked. Yet these two types of justification exist in the same debates, because the occurrence of both of these discourses correlates with debate length. The variation is due to differences between political cultures: in countries like Argentina and the USA, where national self-image is employed most frequently, speakers have at their disposal stories that bolster beliefs about the country’s uniqueness. In contrast, in the parliaments of Canada and Finland, where references to national self-image are most infrequent, references to the country’s history are rare, and talk about national self-image is entwined with international references.