Linguistic representations of agency in discourse on the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Reid, Samuel Vincent (2019). Linguistic representations of agency in discourse on the Fukushima nuclear disaster. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This Modular PhD thesis argues for a more detailed treatment of agency than has previously been employed in critical linguistics. I present a framework for analysing four aspects of the linguistic representation of agency. The framework classifies the strengths of the different possible representations of agency in each of these four aspects. This framework is then applied to three areas of discourse concerning the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. First, I compare domestic and foreign reporting of the disaster, and argue the less critical stance of domestic reporting is due to a greater emphasis on technological rather than human agency. I then examine representations of responsibility in three official reports into the causes of the Fukushima disaster, and argue that each report diffuses responsibility in different ways, according to their institutional aims. Finally, I look at the kinds of agency attributed to Fukushima in pro and anti-nuclear media opinion pieces, and argue these reflect an interpretation of the disaster as a unique event in pro- nuclear arguments, and as evidence of the inherent danger of nuclear power in anti- nuclear arguments.

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 American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Language and Linguistics
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English


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