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Evaluation in media discourse

European perspectives


Ruth Breeze and Inés Olza

Despite the apparent novelty and fluidity of the media today, there is strong evidence that patterns are emerging which both reflect and extend the evaluative paradigms previously observed in the print and broadcast media. In this complex scenario, discourse analysis offers a rich and varied methodology for understanding the different types of evaluation conveyed through media texts and the way these project, reflect and develop their relationships with their audience. The chapters in this volume draw on a variety of analytical tools, including appraisal analysis, argumentation theory, multimodal approaches and corpus linguistics, to address the issue of evaluation in media discourse. The theoretical underpinning for these chapters ranges from corpus-informed discourse studies, through critical discourse analysis and semio-communicative approaches, to Bakhtinian perspectives. Although the chapters are all in English, the scope of the volume is broadly European, covering aspects of the British, Spanish, Dutch and German media in their traditional and online manifestations, as well as contrastive studies.

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Re-articulating critical awareness about racism in public discourse: Changing one’s mind on the Black Pete debates in the Netherlands (Jan Zienkowski)


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Re-articulating critical awareness about racism in public discourse: Changing one’s mind on the Black Pete debates in the Netherlands

1.  Introduction

To engage in a public debate requires a metapragmatic ability to deal critically with the discursive elements and practices that constitute social relationships in the public sphere. It is possible to think of debates in terms of relatively isolated speech events. We can think of presidential candidates interlocked in a televised event or of social scientists debating questions of subjectivity at a symposium. Debates may centre on questions of validity of specific arguments, practices and institutions. They involve struggle over the meaning(s) of particular (sets of) signifiers, identities and practices. There is not a single ‘correct’ way to perform a debate. When engaging (with)in debates, we draw upon the full range of discursive resources and strategies provided by our ability to engage reflexively with the structural objects of adaptability (see Verschueren and Brisard 2009) provided by linguistic and non-linguistic discourse.

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