Stark choices and brutal simplicity: the blunt instrument of constructed oppositions in news editorials
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractThis chapter uses a typology of oppositional syntactic triggers (e.g. ‘either X or Y’, ‘X but Y’) to show how the conflicting positions of opposing political parties are reproduced and perpetuated by the UK press as simplistic mutually exclusive binaries in General Election campaigns. The premise is that political discourse is predisposed to representing complex moral positions, policies and practices as simple polarised ‘stark’ contrasts, often reducing them to a rudimentary choice between GOOD and EVIL, POSITIVE and NEGATIVE, US and THEM. Using a corpus of data from the daily editorial (or ‘leader’) columns of UK national newspapers in the 2010, 2015 and 2017 UK general election campaigns, the chapter shows how the conflict can be constructed through discourse by the artificial prising apart of more ambiguous and intricate political positions and is strongly facilitated by the very nature of the syntax available for representing alternative views, disguising any shades of grey which are likely to exist. A search for syntactic frames and triggers based on a typology developed by Davies (2012, 2013) and Jeffries (2010), show how oppositions are used to promote Conservative policies at the expense of the Labour Party by constructing ‘stark contrasts’ between them.
CitationDavies, M. (2019). Stark choices and brutal simplicity: the blunt instrument of constructed oppositions in news editorials. In Jeffries, L., O'Driscoll, J. and Evans, M. The Routledge Handbook of Language in Conflict. London, United Kingdom: Routledge.
DescriptionThis is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge Handbook of Language in Conflict on 12th April 2019, available online: https://www.routledge.com/Handbook-of-Language-in-Conflict-1st-Edition/Jeffries-ODriscoll-Evans/p/book/9781138643840
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/