“Reservoir of rage swamps Wall St” The linguistic construction and evaluation of Occupy in international print media

Gregoriou, Christiana and Paterson, Laura L. (2017). “Reservoir of rage swamps Wall St” The linguistic construction and evaluation of Occupy in international print media. Journal of Language, Aggression and Conflict, 5(1) pp. 57–80.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/jlac.5.1.03gre

Abstract

Originating on New York’s Wall Street, the Occupy movement was “an international network of protests against social and economic inequality that began in [September] 2011 in response to the downturn of 2008” (Thorson et al. 2013, 427). Whilst there has been research on online activity in relation to Occupy, the scope of linguistic analysis to date has been somewhat narrow. Furthermore, the focus on new media has indirectly led to an absence of analysis of institutionally-endorsed traditional media texts. We adopt a mixed-method approach of corpus analysis and discourse analysis of national newspaper articles to answer questions such as ‘Is Occupy associated with a semantic field of violence and aggression?’ and ‘Who is represented as having agency?’ Our results indicate that, in our small corpus of media texts, Occupy and its supporters were predominantly portrayed negatively at the movement’s height; even though protesters are reported to have been peaceful in their majority, the English-speaking media we analysed still aligns them with language suggestive of aggression, conflict and even violence.

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