DOI: 10.5176/2251-2403_PSSIR16.16

Authors: William W. Bostock


This paper will explore the idea that political leaders will attempt to control, shift and otherwise manage the collective mental state through various instruments including language policy. Several case studies focusing on Sri Lanka and pre- and post-majority rule South Africa, will show how this is carried out. The general conclusion can be reached that it is possible to influence collective mental states through language policy by using language to: firstly, define a collective boundary, secondly, identify a collectivity through its prevailing ontology, and thirdly, adjust feelings, particularly fears, doubts and uncertainties, for selected purposes. Whether a collective mental state has been calmed or disturbed will have implications for order or conflict, peace or war, and accommodation or genocide.

Keywords: Language policy; collective mental state; Sri Lanka; South Africa

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