Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Many expected that the fall of Soviet communism would result in the democratization of its successor states. The majority of the post-Soviet republics announced democracy as their new way of development; however, very few have evolved into democratization processes. Kazakhstan's democratization has resulted in the formation of authoritative presidentialism, though with limited liberalization (Cummings, 2002, p. 9). Kazakhstan has neither established the anomalous democracy as its most influential neighbor in Eastern Europe, Russia, nor has become the extreme sultanism like its Central Asian fellow, Turkmenistan. According to Cummings (2002), Kazakhstan has shaped "a hybrid, transitional regime of part-authoritarianism" (p. 5). Although the political system has not proved to be democratic, Kazakhstan underwent through distinctive changes of "transitional regime." Scholars have applied various approaches to study a transition of post-communist states. Analyzing political speeches and discourse, linguists and rhetoricians have contributed in a general field of political science, but they have practically disregarded post-Soviet area. Scholars in political science have addressed democratizatsiia in Central Asia from different angles (Cummings, 2002; Dawisha & Parrott, 1997a; Olcott, 1995). The traditional perspective, which examines the fairness of presidential and political elections, the government-media relationships, and human rights, has received their closest attention (Dawisha & Parrott, 1997a). Olcott (1995; 1997) has thoroughly observed the political transition in Kazakhstan specifically by providing a full overview of the political and social structure of the republic. Scholars have never studied democratizatsiia in Central Asia from communication lenses. Specifically, no study on the presidential discourses and their connection with the democratization process in Central Asia exists so far. This study examines the relationship between democratizatsiia in Kazakhstan and the political discourse of its president, Nursultan Nazarbaev. I consider the dynamic of presidential discourse development as an indicator of transitional changes in the political regime of Kazakhstan. This work addresses the questions, what is the relationship between presidential discourse and democratizatsiia in Kazakhstan? This thesis asks: What role does presidential discourse play in the republic's transition from the Soviet totalitarian system? Does the discourse of Nazarbaev reveal the real political situation of the country? From the standpoint of the discourse, is Kazakhstan moving toward or away from democracy? I discuss these issues through content analysis of Nazarbaev's speeches form 1984 to present. The thesis seeks to discover whether the governmental discourse of rule has changed over decades of democratizatsiia since the independence. The study of the presidential discourse complements the previous research on democratizatsiia in Kazakhstan and helps in better understanding the political situation of this country.


Communication | International Relations | Political Science