Discourses of marriage in same-sex marriage debates in the UK press 2011-2014

Paterson, Laura L. and Coffey-Glover, Laura (2018). Discourses of marriage in same-sex marriage debates in the UK press 2011-2014. Journal of Language and Sexuality, 7(2) pp. 175–204.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/jls.17022.pat


This paper interrogates media representations of same-sex marriage debates in the UK using a combination of corpus linguistics tools and close reading, and drawing on Queer Linguistics. Following related work by Baker (2004), Love and Baker (2015), and Bachmann (2011), we analyse a 1.3 million-word corpus of UK national newspaper texts compiled for the Discourses of Marriage Research Group. Our corpus stretches from September 2011 and the announcement of a government consultation on same-sex marriage, to April 2014 when the first same-sex marriages took place. Using a top-down approach we investigate the discourses drawn upon in same-sex marriage debates (as indexed by keywords and key semantic fields) and uncover the binary social categories used to normalise social structures and hold the same-sex marriage debate in place. We also consider which social actors are (not) given a voice and/or agency and discuss how (same-sex) marriage is constituted.

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