Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DINEQ (Tracking discoursal shift in news media representation of economic inequality: developing and applying corpus linguistic and critical discourse analysis methods)
Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-08-31
In this economic context, one may ask how the UK has reached such a situation, not just to understand the process, but, more importantly, to identify some of the bases on which relevant agencies might try to slow it down and even reverse it, in the interests of a fairer allocation of resources for all UK citizens. This matter is important for many observers simply on moral or ethical grounds. But in addition to ethical considerations, it has been robustly demonstrated that people who live in more unequal conditions have worse health and social relations: life expectancy, mental illness, obesity, violence or drug use and abuse are just some of the factors that become affected by economic inequality.
Although economic inequality is addressed by economists, sociologists and political scientists, linguists can and should contribute to the debate, because inequality and a toleration of inequality, is in part maintained through the discourses a society deploys. In this sense, arguments on the role of newspaper discourse have developed since the late 1980s, with critical linguistics analysts claiming that news media not only report thoughts and actions in society, but also contribute to society attitudes and expectations towards different issues. This means that newspapers may also have contributed to changes in the way society thinks by representing new attitudes and beliefs as habitual, the new normal and common sense, and thus making society less resistant to such changes. Turning back to the problem of economic inequality, over the last 50 years it is arguable that certain influential British newspapers may have changed the way their readers are encouraged to think about the rich and the poor, what is fair and unfair and what in the prevailing circumstances the state can reasonably do and cannot.
In this context, the overall aim of DINEQ has been to look for a discursive change in the way that the right-of-centre UK press has represented economic inequality and related matters since 1970s. The focus has been placed on the right-of-centre press because it has been assumed that these newspapers represent a broad rightward-moving socioeconomic trend that is more approvingly with the economic and societal changes just mentioned.
The fellow has communicated the findings of her work through the following publicly-oriented resources:
1. Project website and blog that can be accessed through www.dinequality.com. The website includes a blog where she has posted the main project activities undertaken. It uses a non-specialized language, as it is oriented towards the general public.
2. Twitter account: the fellow has publicized every change in the project website though her academic twitter account (@emgomezjimenez).
3. Public workshop: on 25th April 2018, the fellow and Prof. Michael Toolan organized a public workshop at the Public Library of Birmingham (Centenary Square, Birmingham), freely available to anybody interested.
During the fellowship period, the fellow has disseminated internationally the results of the project through the publication of 1 peer-reviewed paper in Discourse, Context and Media, a high-impact journal specialized in CDA, CL and media communication. She has also disseminated the results through the following international conferences and research meetings, where she has given peer-reviewed talks and invited talks respectively:
IWODA: INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON DISCOURSE ANALYSIS. Santiago de Compostela (Spain). 2018.
22ND SOCIOLINGUISTICS SYMPOSIUM. Auckland (New Zealand). 2018.
X INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CORPUS LINGUISTICS. Cáceres (Spain). 2018.
APPLIED LINGUISTICS: RESEARCH SEMINAR. University of Swansea (UK). 2018.
STYLISTICS AND DISCOURSE ANALYSIS READING GROUP. Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics. University of Nottingham (UK). 2018.
2017 BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR APPLIED LINGUISTICS CONFERENCE. Leeds (UK). 2017.
INTERNATIONAL CORPUS LINGUISTICS CONFERENCE. Birmingham (UK). 2017.
ELR SEMINAR SERIES. University of Birmingham (UK). 2017.
The fellow and Dr. Michael Toolan organized an international symposium on inequality discourses in the media. This was held on 15th June 2018, at the University of Birmingham, and included talks by specialists in the field. The symposium welcomed more than 30 attendees. A book proposal containing the papers resulting from this symposium has been accepted by Bloomsbury to be published in 2019.
The training and knowledge obtained during the fellowship period has allowed the fellow to gain a temporary position at the department of Modern Languages at the University of La Rioja (Spain), where she is working at present.