The Uses of Discourse Analysis in the Study of Risk: The Case of Risk Communication in Online News Media

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 46 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Eimante ZOLUBIENE, Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania
Risk communication has grown into a major concern in the complex present societies which are struggling with a vast abundance of riskiness, rising from already familiar and newly emerging threats. This kind of communication creates preconditions for an emergence of the general risk discourse in news media which includes flows of information about different kinds of risks: political, economic, social, cultural, technological and environmental, as well as health. In this sense risk is understood not as something inherent in objects, events or processes themselves but as something constructed by the interplay of the media and other discourses. This paper seeks to outline the methodological framework for risk discourse analysis in news media. The characteristics of risk discourse in the field of news media will be discussed with reference to the ideas of Fairclough ( 1985, 1992, 1993), van Dijk (e.g., 1985, 1997, 2011), Laclau and Mouffe (Laclau 1990, 1993; Mouffe 1993, 2008) as well as Foucault (1969). The presentation will be provided with the empirical illustrations of the study based on the data taken from two the most popular online news websites in Lithuania (delfi.lt, lrytas.lt). The study results show that risk discourse exists as a general heterogeneous macro structure which brings together various discourses of more narrowly distinguished areas of risks. In this way risk gains a slightly different meaning in various discursive contexts. The discourse of risk is shaped by the voices of its participants, different strategies of risk narratives which are employed by newsmakers as well as by the contexts surrounding risk discourse. Through the risk discourse news media gain power to manipulate or even control a society, not always leading towards rational behavior.