Re/thinking chickens: the discourse around chicken farming in British newspapers and campaigners’ magazines, 1982–2016

Lazutkaite, Elena (2020) Re/thinking chickens: the discourse around chicken farming in British newspapers and campaigners’ magazines, 1982–2016. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis is an analysis of contemporary discourses around chicken farming in British newspapers and campaigners’ flagship magazines published between 1982 and 2016. In total, the study corpus comprises 1754 texts published in broadsheets The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, tabloids the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail (including their Sunday editions Sunday Mirror and Mail on Sunday) and magazines Agscene and Farm Animal Voice produced by the animal welfare organisation Compassion in World Farming and Outrage and The Uncounted Dead: Farming’s Unofficial Victims published by the animal rights organisation Animal Aid. The study applies the analytical framework of Critical Discourse Analysis in combination with Corpus Linguistics tools to analyse discursive framings and representations of chicken farming.

The period between 1982 and 2016 marks a rapid growth of the chicken industry. Over the period of 34 years, global egg production has tripled to nearly 79 million tonnes and the number of chickens slaughtered for meat has tripled to nearly 66 billion. Despite the explosion in numbers, this thesis identifies the overall lack of attention and care for chickens as sentient beings in the newspapers analysed. Chicken farming is typically normalised through defining chickens as commodities, disregarding the link between chicken welfare, human welfare, and environmental issues, and excluding sources that could provide an alternative view. Normalisation and objectification are most prevalent in “factual” news stories that embrace a purportedly detached stance. Strikingly, the Guardian opinion pieces offer most in terms of addressing violence against chickens not only relative to the other newspapers, but also to the campaigners’ magazines. In the Guardian opinion pieces, the normative practices of consuming eggs and chicken flesh are made visible and stripped of their normative status through a critical examination of bias. In the campaigners’ corpora, on the other hand, chicken suffering is emphasised, and pragmatic approaches are prioritised. The thesis closes by integrating the study findings and the politics of what we eat to call for changes in discourse and practice.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Still, Judith
King, Christopher
Keywords: Critical animal studies, critical discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, chicken farming, meat production, chicken meat production, egg production, newspapers, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Compassion in World Farming, Animal Aid, animal welfare, animal rights, discourse, discursive representation, human-animal studies, critical theory, campaigning, animal activism, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver, higher welfare farming, free-range farming, organic farming, factory farming, journalism, rhetoric, avian influenza, bird flu, zoonotic diseases
Subjects: H Social sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Item ID: 61131
Depositing User: Lazutkaite, Elena
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2020 13:13
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2022 04:30

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