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Title:In the company of citizens: the rhetoric of Singapore Inc.
Author(s):Singh, Rohini Shashikiran
Director of Research:Murphy, John M
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Murphy, John M
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Finnegan, Cara; Tewksbury, David; O'Gorman, Ned
Department / Program:Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Public address
Organizational communication
Abstract:The leaders of Singapore take great pride in the small republic's economic achievements. Given its economic success, prominence in international markets, and cultivation of the world's highest density of millionaires, it is unsurprising that the nation is often referred to as "Singapore Inc.," a metaphor depicting the country as a corporate enterprise. But what happens to the relationship between people and their government when citizens are cast as shareholders and employees, and the government the nation's expert managers? How do these groups talk to each other and what kinds of arguments do they use to negotiate public problems? In this dissertation, I address these questions by exploring the implications of a corporate constitution of the nation for public deliberation. In asking what it means to run a country like a company, I engage with the concept of neoliberalism: the "leakage" of economic rationalities into non-economic spheres. This dissertation is thus a project in examining how neoliberalism affects the conditions of political participation by transforming a political relationship between citizens and their government into an economic one between workers and CEOs. Through an analysis of the annual National Day Rally address delivered by Singapore's Prime Ministers from 1960 to 2014 and two public controversies over immigration and censorship, I show how the government borrows the logic and language of the business world to set the terms of public discourse and how the people respond in ways that alternately resist and reinforce these norms. I conclude that rhetorical scholarship can benefit by drawing on concepts from organizational communication and that Singapore presents a unique case of neoliberalism that blends the liberal focus on individual endeavor with republican notions of sacrifice for a common goal.
Issue Date:2016-06-23
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Rohini Singh
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-11-10
Date Deposited:2016-08

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