Thumbnail Image

Politics of Kindness: Exploring the political discourse of Kindness articulated by Ardern in New Zealand

Values underpin much of how politics is done. Jacinda Ardern has been re-elected for a second term as New Zealand’s Prime Minister after kick-starting her role as a world leader by articulating the goal of bringing ethical values of kindness and compassion into politics and government. Amidst a background of socio-political upheaval in many parts of the world, her approach has gained widespread attention. Therefore, this study explores the potential of Kindness as a political value by analysing the political discourse of Kindness articulated by Ardern (Kindness here is used with a capital K and it includes the ethical values kindness, empathy, compassion, manaakitanga and aroha). Drawing on the field of Critical Discourse Studies, the research applies macro context theory to identify global topics in relevance to the political discourse of Kindness. The analysis highlights how Kindness, as a political value, has the radical potential to transform political conduct and address the problems of economism, nationalism, and racism. Topics, disclaimers, and metaphors are used in an axiological analysis to see what global actions were legitimised using Kindness as a political value. Kindness as a political value was used for actions such as: promoting a socio-political vision, framing problems and proposing solutions, legitimising policy, persuading leaders, and managing crisis and conflict. Kindness as a political value is then proposed as a well-rounded solution to change how politics is enacted at three levels: leadership, societal, and policy settings. The analysis further revealed how the political discourse of Kindness articulated by Ardern was used to i) legitimise and promote the wellbeing framework that has informed the Ardern-led government’s budgeting process; ii) challenge nationalism, isolationism, and protectionism and choose compassionate domestic policies; iii) promote a vision of safe and resilient societies where governments address racist histories and build societies to navigate differences and diversity; iv) manage a national crisis following the Christchurch terror attack and lead the nation's response, and v) identify political conduct as the underlying problem addressed using the discourse of Kindness. The discussion also reveals that the ‘Politics of Kindness’ can address socio-political upheaval through challenging domination, inspiring hope, and leading with resonance.
Type of thesis
Elliott, P. (2020). Politics of Kindness: Exploring the political discourse of Kindness articulated by Ardern in New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14087
The University of Waikato
All items in Research Commons are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.