A corpus assisted discourse study of political and media discourse in the lead up to the Brexit referendum

Glaas, Sharon L ORCID: 0000-0002-2148-8928 (2022). A corpus assisted discourse study of political and media discourse in the lead up to the Brexit referendum. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

Text - Accepted Version
Available under License All rights reserved.

Download (7MB) | Preview


This thesis focuses on media and elite political discourse in the six months leading up to the Brexit referendum of 2016. The overall aim of the study was to shed light on the result of that referendum. It takes a corpus-assisted discourse study (CADS) approach to examine representation of the EU in the pro-Union Guardian newspaper and compares this to discourses of EU elites during the same time frame, in order to contextualise findings and assess what is absent from Guardian discourse. Three corpora were compiled for the study. The 4.4-million-word Guardian Pre-Referendum corpus (GPRC) contains 4269 articles published by the Guardian between 1 January 2016 and 23 June 2016. The Guardian Financial Crisis corpus (GuFCC) is a small sub-corpus containing 100 articles focuses on the EU and economic crisis. The EU Financial Crisis Corpus (EUFCC) is a corpus of EU press releases and speech transcripts released on that same topic during the same time period.

The study finds that pro-EU discourse present in the Guardian is significantly undermined by negative subtext relating to three key themes: conflict between EU member states, disparity in the experiences of EU citizens, and risk to the UK of continued membership. At the same time there was an almost total absence of elite EU voices in the Guardian. The EU elites, on the other hand, focussed on justification of policy and promoting the success of past policies. Nevertheless, traces of the negative themes found in the Guardian were also found in EU discourse.

This thesis argues that theories of News Values and newsworthiness have good explanatory value for the Guardian discourse but that the notion of the mediatisation of politics is unconvincing based on the EU data. A novel Political Values analytical framework is presented, based on the notion ‘voteworthiness’ and drawing Aristotle’s modes of persuasion. Ultimately this thesis proposes that News Values and Political Values are somewhat incompatible and as a result, coverage of the EU is limited, and this may have affected the way people voted in the referendum.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of English Language and Linguistics
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12977


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year