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Analysing Political Catchwords

Analysing Contemporary Political Catchwords and Catchphrases (funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Networking Grant) is a collaborative research project coordinated by Professor Suman Gupta of the The Open University and a team of international researchers

Political catchwords and catchphrases are used pervasively and continuously in all major languages. They form the crux of exchanges in news media, social networks, policy documents, bureaucratic notices, academic papers, entertainment programmes, everyday conversations, etc. Examples of the moment in English include: ‘new normal’, ‘austerity’, ‘sustainability’, ‘free speech’/‘hate speech’, ‘me too’, ‘Black Lives Matter’, ‘alt-right’, ‘woke’, ‘white working class’, ‘toxic masculinity’, ‘climate change denial’, ‘greenwashing’ . We can hardly talk about the world around us without some such popping out.

The focus of the project is primarily on public digital communications, such as social networks and websites. The project’s deliberations extend to political catchwords in a range of languages, though exchanges will mostly be conducted in English.

Researchers and professionals from different backgrounds and contexts will come together in a series of workshops and seminars to develop methods for rigorously studying political catchwords.

Workshops and seminars have been organised over 2024-2025, in: London by The Open University, UK; Nicosia by the University of Nicosia, Cyprus; Amman by the Arab Open University Jordan; and Sofia by the University of Sofia, Bulgaria. For details, see the Activities page.

A regularly updated Discussion (English Political Words website): hosts definitions of political catchwords and catchphrases produced by members of the network.