Agency in the British Press: A Corpus-based Discourse Analysis of the 2011 UK Riots
This book examines the ways in which the 2011 UK riots were reported by the British press, by analysing the linguistic construal of the main participants involved in the protests and their agency. Starting from the assumption that newspapers do not just mirror reality, but rather construct it in discourse through a series of linguistic, stylistic and editorial choices, great attention is paid to how the events were portrayed according to different political, social and cultural stances. Since the linguistic labels employed by the newspapers to identify (and connote) the protagonists of the riots are indicative of their ideological positions, such critical attention to the specialised language of the press proves to be extremely noteworthy. Indeed, the urban unrest that periodically occurs, in the UK as much as within the wider European context, signals governments’ failure to deal with persisting social and economic problems. In this regard, investigating the extent to which the media manage or fail to account for the issues that are at the heart of such violent protests, while shaping public opinions, represents an interesting and rewarding endeavour.
A corpus of about 1,700 articles, collected from the six British newspapers with the highest circulation rates in August 2011 (Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Sun, The Guardian, The Telegraph, and The Times), is therefore analysed with a corpus-based discourse analysis approach, combining qualitative and quantitative techniques. The linguistic depictions of the main social actors – Mark Duggan, the rioters, and the police – reveal the ideological burden affecting power relations between (élite or minority) groups within society.
Maria Cristina Nisco holds a PhD in English Linguistics, and is a Research Fellow at the University of Naples L’Orientale. Her current research areas include media studies, news discourse, language, identity and migration, and corpus-based discourse analysis. Her most recent publications include Languaging Diversity (co-edited with G. Balirano, 2015), and Language, Theory, and Society (co-edited with G. Balirano, 2015). She has also researched and published on varieties of English – having authored The Routes of English: (Un)Mapping the Language (2010) – and translation as intercultural communication.
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