Periodicity of nationalist conservatism: A hypothesis to be tested
I was just listening to the UK Prime Minister's Question Time. I don't do it very often, because the questions and answers are predictable in content and not particularly informative, but maybe I should tune in more often to get a sense of the tone of the exchange.
As I was listening, I was struck by the tone social conservatism, law and order and peaceful environment for the law abiding citizens. It felt to me like a representation of a yearning for return to the 1950s (or rather our rosy image of the 50s).
This is probably more prevalent in the discourse because the traditional home of radical politics, the Labour Party, is in power and has to observe certain discursive practices.
One hypothesis that seems to offer itself (and others have put it forward, I'm sure) is the idea that there are periodic returns to social conservatism in any society (or a group with in-group/out-group dynamics). However, this would need to be tested. I suspect, that if we examined a corpus of public debates from any period, we would find similar tone. This would be an interesting challenge: what would be the composition and sampling of such a corpus? What would be our measure of its representativeness?
And most importantly, what in the corpus would we accept as evidence for a definition of certain conceptual environment of a given period. And we'd also have to relate such results to those from other scholars who have done similar research based on historical and/or literary critical methods.
No matter what such an investigation would bring up we would still be left with the question of how do we account for personal description of change in public discourse?
Somebody please start a study to confirm or disconfirm my suspicions! I can't take this any more!