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Carrying a Torch

The Beijing Olympic Torch Relay in the British and Chinese Media


Mei Yang

The Olympic torch relay held before the 2008 Games was the moment when East met West on the media stage. This book analyses the torch relay and its representation, offering a discursive construction of Olympic ideology by and through the media in both East and West. The author argues that the discourse used by the media in different social contexts reflected the diversity of ideologies and cultural values with which the Olympic flame was imbued.
A corpus-based Discourse-Historical Approach in Critical Discourse Analysis (DHA-CDA) is applied to media discourse in the United Kingdom and in China to examine the complexity, contradiction and conflicts in linguistic interpretations of Olympic ideology. Corpora drawn from the China Daily, BBC News and The Guardian are described, interpreted in their linguistic contexts, and then explained in terms of the broader historical and socio-political contexts surrounding the dynamic life of the Olympic torch relay. This unique study sheds light on the significance of the Olympic Games for East-West media discourse and analysis.
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Chapter 3: Olympism, liberalism and harmony



European critical media scholars have argued since the 1970s that news language makes sense not simply within conventions but within conventions that are in the interests of dominant groups (Matheson 2005: 17). Before interpreting the influence of ideology on the media, we first need to trace the history of the concept of ideology and how it works.

The term ‘idéologie’ was originally coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy (1754–1836), writing in the aftermath of the French Revolution. He intended to create a new branch of study concerned with ideas. McLellan (1986: 6) refers to ‘ideology’ as ‘a new science of ideas, an idea-logy, which would be the ground of all other sciences.’ ‘That enterprise was very much in line with the positivist movement in nineteenth century France, which held out the possibility of studying society with the precise tools characteristic of a natural science’ (Freeden 2003: 4). Ideology thus originates as a ‘meta-science,’ a science of science. It claims to be able to explain where the other sciences come from and to give a scientific genealogy of thought (Hawkes 1996: 68). Destutt de Tracy’s intentions reflect the need that scholars perceive for a professional and dedicated approach to the study of ideas (Freeden 2003: 5). He argued that ‘a rational investigation of the origins of ideas, free from metaphysical prejudice would be the foundation of a just and happy society’ (Hawkes 1996: 68). Hence, ideology in this first instance seems positive...

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