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Investigating Conflict Discourses in the Periodical Press

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Edited By Giuliana Elena Garzone, Mara Logaldo and Francesca Santulli

The contributions collected in this book deal with the representation of conflict in the periodical press, which has often been an arena of adversarial stances, staged and enacted either within the same publication or enlarged to involve various newspapers and magazines in a series of provocations and replies. Underlying all the contributions is the awareness that the periodical press provides an ideal terrain for research on the discursive representation of conflict, having the prerogative to combine insight with a constant updating of the debate. The issue is approached in an interdisciplinary perspective, bringing linguistics and discourse analysis with Periodical Studies, hence highlighting the connection between language and ideology. The focus on lexical choices and rhetorical devices used to tackle current controversial issues such as Brexit, immigration, violence in sports, policies regarding health and food, women’s role and legal matters ultimately transcends national boundaries to become more widely representative of today’s discourses of conflict.

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Populism and the Press: Contracting and Expanding (Dis)agreement Space in UK Editorials on Brexit

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1 Introduction

This chapter originates in a broader project on populism and discourse (Breeze/Zienkowsky forth.), to which the author has contributed considering how populism is constructed by media discourse, specifically editorials and opinion articles (Degano/Sicurella forth.). The debate sparked before and after the referendum, held on June 23, 2016 to decide whether the UK was to leave the European Union, made an ideal object of investigation in this respect, as the Leave camp was led by populists, who cast the Remain side as the establishment or elites standing aloof. The aim was to see if and how editorialists i.e. intellectuals who are per se part of the ‘elite’ targeted by populists (inherently making this situation one of conflict), engage populist views. Underpinning this question was the assumption that if intellectuals are to contribute to fight something they see as undesirable and dangerous (such as populism) they cannot fail to address those who hold populist views.

A caveat is in order regarding the persuasive function of editorials. Although they fall in the category of persuasive discourse, they are not purely, and possibly not primarily, a deliberative genre, their function being crucially that of creating a sense of communion with the intended readership. As Lopez-Pan (2015: 288) puts it, “this communion of values—strong, latent, relatively stable and of variable intensity—is presupposed and assumed in advance by the speaker, who articulates the shared culture through his/her speech”. However, such values are not “unconditionally certain and...

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