Representations of the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in British and Spanish Newspapers : A Multimodal Cognitive-linguistic Analysis

Marmol Queralto, Javier and Hart, Christopher (2022) Representations of the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in British and Spanish Newspapers : A Multimodal Cognitive-linguistic Analysis. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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With the (European) Refugee Crisis (RC) still ongoing, the dynamics of representation in media coverage of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants (RASIM) remains a pressing issue. While much has been written about linguistic representations of migration in the media (e.g., Baker et al., 2008), comparatively little has been written about the visual/multimodal depictions of RASIM (cf. Catalano & Musolff, 2019). This is despite a wealth of literature which highlights the role that pictures play in communicating values and thus in creating and sustaining social identities and inequalities more generally (Bednarek & Caple, 2012). In this thesis I (1) critically analyse online newspapers’ patterns of conceptualisations of events within the RC in both language and image; (2) assess the interactions between patterns of conceptualisation across these modes and their potential ideological import; and (3) account for the variation in patterns of conceptualisation across countries and news sources of contrasting ideology. This research develops and operationalises a cognitive-linguistic approach to Critical Discourse Studies (i.e., Hart, 2014). The theoretical-methodological apparatus is designed to critically examine the visual and linguistic enactors of construal operations of schematisation, spatial viewpoint and conceptual metaphor (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Hart, 2015; Talmy, 2000; Forceville, 2009). This includes examining Language-Image relations from an intersemiotic convergence perspective (Hart & Mármol Queraltó, 2021). Patterns of conceptualisation in three semantic domains were analysed: MOTION, ACTION and FORCE (Hart, 2011a/b). The data for this project comprised 385 news reports extracted and sampled adapting the method in Baker et al. (2008). Four Spanish and British newspapers of contrasting ideological persuasions were examined: El País and The Guardian as ‘liberal’ newspapers, and El Mundo and The Telegraph as ‘conservative’ ii newspapers. Data coding and analysis employed UAM Corpus Tool, also in its version for image analysis. Substantial but subtle variation across countries and newspapers was found in both language and image across all three semantic domains. The national context of newspapers and their ideological inclinations are also relevant. Expanding on previous findings (cf., Moore et al, 2018), Spanish newspapers display more convergent, humanitarian depictions of events during the RC, while British newspapers display a high degree of polarization. Spanish newspapers coincide in primarily representing RASIM as entities arriving to European countries, as passive collectives being acted upon, and as weaker entities being impinged upon by various governmental forces. The Guardian displays relatively similar patterns of conceptualisation, where The Telegraph stands out as the newspaper which depicts RASIM events as inherently negative. Alongside these empirical findings, this thesis makes several theoretical and methodological contributions, including (1) setting out a protocol for text-annotation within a cognitive linguistic paradigm, and (2) advancing our understanding of intersemiotic relations from a critical cognitive linguistic perspective.

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Thesis (PhD)
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14 Sep 2022 11:20
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24 May 2024 02:38