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Constructing the South China Sea A Pentadic Analysis of American Narratives, 2009-2016 Open Access

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Though the South China Sea (SCS) territorial disputes have attracted much attention in the United States, there is a dearth of scholarly research on their discursive construction. Americans clearly care about the SCS, but nobody has investigated how, when, or why particular American narratives emerged and evolved. Given this research gap, this article develops a longitudinal form of Kenneth Burke’s pentadic analysis to study American narratives of the SCS. Examining editorials from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal from 2009 to 2016, this article finds that elements of a dominant narrative emerged in 2014 in response to both material and discursive developments. This article then demonstrates the manner in which this dominant narrative has delimited the scope of legitimate U.S. policy options.

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