Arlene Ferguson-Somerville

School of Education and the Arts
Studies in Human Society| Studies in Creative Arts and Writing| Language, Communication and Culture
Associate Professor Kate Ames, Dr Liz Ellison
Doctor of Philosophy

Research Details

Thesis Name

Couldry meets Bourdieu: media meta-capital, symbolic violence, and the —˜hidden persuasion' of print newspaper narratives of English identity during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign

Thesis Abstract

This research explores the intersection of cultural identity, traditional media power, and political events by investigating the power dynamics underpinning the use of populist messaging in print newspapers during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign. Utilising concepts and insights from the interdisciplinary field of critical discourse analysis (CDA), this research reveals how a populist notion of 'the people' was discursively constructed and mobilised as a source of political authority during the Brexit campaign. By drawing on the conceptual approaches of Pierre Bourdieu and Nick Couldry, this research endeavours to uncover the ulterior motives of multinational media outlets whose populist rhetoric runs counter to their economic well-being, that is contingent upon maintaining the status quo, reinforcing the self-evidence of a social order based on hierarchies of power and privilege.

Why my research is important/Impacts

The mediatization of contemporary society is increasingly shaping and framing the discourses of personal and community identity creating new realities as well as determining the places and spaces in which communication takes place. As a consequence, the question of the role played by media oligarchs in defining issues and reproducing social structures that maintain exclusionary systems of power and privilege is now more important than ever. I argue that gaining a better understanding of how and why identity is being exploited by elite actors is essential in enabling productive citizenship and maintaining democratic systems of governance.