Discourses of dementia in the British press: a corpus linguistic approach

Bailey, Annika (2019) Discourses of dementia in the British press: a corpus linguistic approach. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This study investigates discourses of dementia in the British national news media, examining a two million word collection of news articles about dementia published between 2012 and 2017. Using a mixed-methods approach, the study combines the quantitative techniques of corpus linguistics with the qualitative perspectives of Critical Discourse Analysis, a methodological combination that affords a means of identifying the most salient linguistic patterns and trends. In light of the stigma and cultural misunderstanding that popularly surrounds the syndrome, the study seeks to explore how dementia, and those living with dementia, are discursively represented in the British press.

The analysis identifies that dementia is prominently depicted in the news media from a biomedical viewpoint with a keen focus on the clinical pathology of the syndrome and possible treatments and cures, in addition to an overwhelming concern with memory loss and cognitive decline. News media representations of people with the syndrome, including celebrities with dementia, tend to foreground loss and tragedy above personhood and dignity, with a dominant portrayal of people with dementia as passive victims without hope.

The study considers the implications of these media representations of dementia, with a particular focus on the general public’s knowledge of and attitudes towards the syndrome. Reflecting upon the role of the news media in disseminating information about health and illness, the study emphasises the value of exploring news media depictions of dementia in order to understand and critique dominant stereotypes and misinformation that may restrict public knowledge of the syndrome and contribute to stigma. The study highlights the utility of a corpus-assisted Critical Discourse Analysis in the examination of large samples of news media texts about health and illness, and suggests avenues for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Harvey, Kevin
Dening, Tom
Keywords: Dementia; Discourse analysis; Corpus linguistics; News media
Subjects: P Language and literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Item ID: 59481
Depositing User: Bailey, Annika
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2020 11:54
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 09:15
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/59481

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