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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 5: Corpus-based Critical Discourse Analysis



As noted above, this study is an examination of the media discourse surrounding the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay in order to explore the discursive construction of Olympic ideology. This chapter explores how corpus-based CDA can contribute to this study. In so doing, it answers research question 1, namely, how does the Critical Discourse Analysis framework in this book inform our understanding of the media coverage of the Olympic Torch Relay in 2008 and how does corpus linguistics enable us to document and account for its discursive construction in a systematic and thorough fashion? The theoretical and methodological foundation of this study is undertaken. CDA is critically reviewed first, followed by the advantages of corpus-based CDA. Thereafter, the corpus resources, corpus exploration tools, and lexical visualization tools used in this study are illustrated. Finally, the process of data collection and analysis is discussed.

According to van Dijk (1988a) and Fairclough (1992), there are two types of discourse analysis: non-critical and critical. The difference between non-critical and critical is that a critical framework covers the description of discursive practices as well as the ways in which discourse is constructed according to relations of power and ideologies. A critical approach is also concerned with the effect of a discourse on ‘social identities, social relations and systems of knowledge and belief’ (Fairclough 1992: 12). For many Western scholars the analysis of discourse is ‘not only a matter of technical ← 65 | 66 → description but also a way of understanding...

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