Dødskommunikation i krig: Hvordan kan man snakke om død?

Louise Mean Pedersen & Louise Vogdrup-­‐Schmidt

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis focuses on the possibilities of communicating how it is possible to communicate about death considering the fact that death is a rather inconvenient subject. Death communication is examined in a specific war context, namely the deaths of Danish soldiers in the Afghanistan conflict. The empirical basis is articles from 2010 – published in leading national Danish newspapers. The reference point of the theoretical framework is Niklas Luhmann´s system theory, and in addition to this, paradox theory from other political theorists are taking into consideration. The system theory provides the necessary tool box for analysing communication and the inherent paradoxes in communicating death. The main question of this thesis is how is it possible to communicate about something, which it is not possible to communicate about? The thesis shows that communication on death is possible, and that communicative attempts are made all the time. However, communication on death is not merely about death as a word or concept, but instead different forms of communication are used to deparadoxify the fact that death and non-death are two sides of the same communicative paradox. Several differences are discovered between the three types of communicative players, namely the Danish defence, the politicians and the media. Where the media is more than willing to communicate about death, the two other types of communicators rarely talk directly about death. Furthermore, the media puts a communicative dynamic pressure on the other actors that makes them produce even more death communication regarding non-death. The death communication offers a range of different ways of consolation for the Danish defence and the politicians to answer to the media pressure. The use of the form of consolation can be seen as a way to overcome the present by giving consolation in the past move on into the future. The pressure of the media is typically disguised in communicative terms such as responsibility and heroes, whereas the communicative response from the Danish defence and the politicians is consolation communication based on concepts of war materials, idolisation, disclaimers and a focus on the families and friends left behind. By combining the terms in which the communication communicates we have developed the following communication strategies for the three communicative players: • The media: To showcase those who were responsible / to be the gravestone of the diseased • The Danish defence: to be a hero generative military machine • The politicians: to be idealizing idolization Based on this thesis the normative advice to strategic communication in the field of death communication is to welcome the paradox as a communicative pressure and use a creative imagination for consolidation communication when death occurs.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages130