News media and the politics of fear: Normalization and contrastive discourses in the reporting on terrorist attacks in Sweden and the UK
|Ekström Mats, Patrona Marianna, Thornborrow Joanna
|Language of Investigation
|Please cite as follows:
Ekström Mats, Patrona Marianna, Thornborrow Joanna (2022): News media and the politics of fear: Normalization and contrastive discourses in the reporting on terrorist attacks in Sweden and the UK. In: Discourse & Society, 33(6), 758–772. https://doi.org/10.1177/09579265221095409
This paper provides a comparative critical discourse analysis of news discourse on terrorism with respect to the coverage by two Swedish and two UK broadsheet newspapers of the terrorists attacks that took place in Stockholm and in London respectively in the year 2017. The research goal is to investigate the type of discourses mobilized that help enact a ‘politics of fear’, and to compare the constitutive elements of this rhetoric within the same, and across the two national contexts. The findings point to three major representations as points on a continuum of discourses that emphatically affirm, give rise to, but also resist and counteract, a politics of fear. The paper sheds light on processes of normalization at work in the routine discursive practices of press coverage, but also to the rise of counter-discourses that resist, downplay, or take a critical stance toward the core elements of a politics of fear. It is argued that these latter discursive practices may work in the opposite direction, namely to de-normalize or marginalize a dominant politics of fear.