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Language Use in the Public Sphere

Methodological Perspectives and Empirical Applications

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Edited By Inés Olza Moreno, Óscar Loureda Lamas and Manuel Casado

This book comprises a range of general discussions on tradition and innovation in the methodology used in discourse studies (Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis, Argumentation Theory, Rhetoric, Philosophy) and a number of empirical applications of such methodologies in the analysis of actual instances of language use in the public sphere – in particular, discourses arising in the context of the debate on the presence of religious symbols in public places.
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Reporting Public Manifestations of Religious Beliefs: Sikhs, Muslims and Christians in the British press: Ruth Breeze

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RUTH BREEZE

Reporting Public Manifestations of Religious Beliefs: Sikhs, Muslims and Christians in the British Press1

In recent years, controversy has surrounded public manifestations of religion, particularly the wearing of specific items of dress or accessories which appear to come into conflict with safety regulations or social expectations. This chapter examines British newspaper reporting on this issue, by conducting an in-depth analysis of news and opinion articles about the wearing of symbolic items by members of three different religions (Sikhs, Muslims and Christians). We analysed one hundred articles published in the online versions of four UK newspapers (Guardian, Telegraph, Mirror and Sun) in the first six months of 2010. A multi-dimensional approach was adopted, taking into account the following aspects: analysis of issue framing, identifying framing elements within the text; explicit evaluation of the main actors (religious groups, government, groups seeking to impose prohibition of religious symbols); lexical items and metaphors in the text associated with the different parties and with the banning of religious symbols. On the level of framing and explicit evaluation, the articles generally voiced both sides of the controversy in sober, neutral tones. However, greater emotional content was perceptible in the metaphors and emotionally-charged lexical items used, particularly in the context of Islamic attire.

Keywords: Discourse analysis; Framing; Metaphor; Appraisal analysis.

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