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An analysis of the framing of monarchy within a contemporary democracy

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Author: Dexter, Dina
This project aims to establish a comprehensive dialogue concerning the contemporary dynamic between the term ‘democracy’ and the term ‘monarchy’. Utilising the theoretical orientation of ‘framing’ documented by George Lakoff and Murray Edelman, this project assesses the notion of a barrier to political discourse surrounding monarchy as a governance structure. The idea of democracy has taken on a moral and value-laden frame that encompasses perceptions of freedom, equality and legitimacy. Democracy as ‘ideal’ is tied to the dominant culture and history of the United States, as well as the liberal or procedural democracy espoused therein. The ‘ideal’ gives way to a space of what is not ideal, or an enemy of the ‘ideal’, termed within this project as the ‘other’. Monarchy is placed firmly within the frame of the ‘other’, existing in opposition to the ‘ideal’ within the notions of inequality, unaccountability, slavery and violence as order. Although monarchy is maintained within democracy amongst many constitutional monarchies, the oppositional framework stands. The pressure of these frameworks can be seen in international development with the example of Bhutan’s transition to procedural democracy, as well as internal state convention revealed by the rhetoric surrounding the Governor General’s decision to prorogue Parliament in Canada in 2008. By demonstrating the constructed nature of these established frames and the combative dichotomy that results between the notion of democracy and monarchy, this project shows that there is an obstruction to a merit based analysis of monarchy as a governance structure.
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