Supervisor: dots Raili Marling.
Opponents: prof Inger Lassen Aalborgi ülikoolist ja Jan Chovanec,PhD, Masaryki ülikoolist
The dissertation focuses on the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, the ambiguous wording of which lists the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Gun rights are often at the centre of public debates in the US, especially in connection with tragic events such as the Newtown shooting in December, 2012. The topic of gun rights is highly ideological and leads to heated arguments in which different views on the rights of the government and the individual come into conflict. These rights are based on the Constitution which makes the Supreme Court of the US a major voice in the debates. The Supreme Court has narrowly discussed the amendment in three court cases: United States v. Miller (1939), District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010). The corpus of the dissertation includes news articles from The New York Times that report the three court cases. They form a very important representation, as the public will mostly rely on the media not read the court decisions. The analysis explores how the articles represent the constitutional debates by bringing together the voices and perspectives of the Supreme Court and its justices, interest groups, officials, politicians and so on. In their joint mapping, a discourse space is set up and this reflects the complex social circumstances and relationships in a selective manner. The analysis focuses on the notions of space and positioning both on a social and textual level by making use of the tools provided by Critical Discourse Analysis. The dissertation illustrates how the constitutional debates are strongly shaped by the historical context and how drastic shifts in how the Second Amendment is read have greatly to do with the power hierarchies and authoritative discourse spaces in the United States.