Protest eller opptøyer? En diskursanalyse av britisk medias omtale av UK riots

Kristine Sandstå

Student thesis: Master thesis


The research topic for this master thesis is the discourse produced about the crowd that met in the streets of London and several other big cities in the UK in august 2011. The events that followed are popularly called the UK riots. My interest in this topic came when reading about the events and realising after a while that I had made up my mind about an event through the media, without reflecting over whether this truth was the real truth. Media has a huge power in creating a truth about an event or in this instance, a crowd, even though this truth might not be real, or at least not the only truth. The crowd arouse from a protest after a fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29 year old man from London. The police claimed that the shooting was in self defense, the protesters argued that Duggan was not armed, and demanded answers from the police over why he was shot. When they didnt get any answers they started, what many claim, are the worst episodes of civil unrest the UK has seen. I gathered a large amount of articles from the web from the days with unrest and analysed the discourse produced. The crowds actions did not resemble a ¨normal¨ protest, there were no clear messages of what the crowd wanted, thus it was difficult to try to understand what the crowd wanted. What I found is that the crowd was portrayed in a very negative way, where words like yobs, looters, criminals and thugs were used extensively. The result was a delegitimisation of the crowd. UK media defined the crowd as nonpolitical and dangerous to society. This resembles classical crowd theory, which saw the crowd as dangerous and represented a step back for society. The crowd in the UK was represented in the same manner and still today this is the common perception among people. The discourse analysis identified discourse formations adapted by the vast majority of british media, and showed how a discourse can have consequences for how a certain truth about an event can become institutionalised.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages83