Risk, responsibility and political action: Media discourse on environmental crises in Spain

Elisabeth Halskov Jensen

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    Abstract

    ABSTRACT. This paper presents an argumentative case study of the discursive representation of risk, responsibility and political action in the Spanish media. The study uses a critical discourse analytical approach combined with theories on risk, agency and political communication in the media. It is argued that an application of the Toulmin model is useful for eliciting systematic overall repre-sentations of responsibility and agency in environmental crises such as the mad cow crisis as well as for revealing relationships between social domains such as moral, politics, economics and science in discourse. Discourse analysis shows that in the Spanish newspaper sample the focus was on the construal of high risk and on the construal of the national Spanish politicians, the EU and the Brit-ish nation as scapegoats. No responsibility was associated with consumers or other individual players. Political action was transformed into a moral respon-sibility on the part of the national and European politicians, constrained by economic and technical-scientific reality and represented as taking place only in the public sphere. KEY WORDS: CDA, World Risk Society, argumentation, media discourse, argumentation, responsibility, political action, Spanish government, environmental crises.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationKøbenhavn
    Number of pages25
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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