The discourse of liberation: the portrayal of the gay liberation movement in South African news media from 1982 to 2006

Mongie, Lauren Danger (2013-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation reports on a study that straddles the applied linguistic fields of discourse analysis, critical discourse analysis and a sociolinguistic field recently referred to as “queer linguistics”. The study investigated the linguistic construction of gay mobilisation in South African media discourses across a period of almost 30 years. It aimed to identify characteristics of the Discourse that topicalised the gay liberation movement, considering specifically the linguistic means used in articulating on the one hand the need and the right to gay liberation, and on the other hand the public opposition to acknowledging gay rights. It invoked a social theory identified as ‘framing theory’ in analysing the different kinds of views, attitudes, social positions and arguments motivating for or agitating against the institution and protection of gay rights in post-apartheid South Africa. The project takes Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), particularly its applications in considering features and functions of media discourses, as its primary theoretical framework. First, following the insistence of the Discourse-historical approach put forward by Wodak (1990), it gives an overview of the social and historical context against which the recognition of gay rights in South Africa developed. It follows the analytic methodology suggested by van Dijk (1985) in considering issues of ‘language and power’, and the ways in which the access of elites to media attention is drawn on to support and give credence to particular ideologies. Supplementary to the application of CDA methods, an analytic approach from the fields of Social Movement Theory and Collective Action Framing is introduced to make sense of the discursive strategies implemented in the Discourse thematically tied to the South African gay liberation movement, particularly from the early 1980s up to 2006. This period was marked by the movement’s pursuit of social mobilization. Attention went to the ways in which arguments for and against gay rights were instantiated in the media using a variety of different frames. Such analysis could disclose the extent to which the "anti-apartheid" master frame was utilised by actors of the gay liberation movement. Based on their circulation demographics, two local South African weekly newspapers, City Press and Mail & Guardian, were screened in order to identify articles and letters to the editor relevant to the gay liberation discourse. The full complement of published items topicalising homosexuality directly and indirectly were collected as two corpora in order to assess the ways in which they contributed to public discourses of gay liberation. Two analytic exercises were done: first, the content of the full data-set was “tagged” and categorised according to the textual nature of the newspaper item, and the kinds of frames used in its presentation; second, a number of articles and letters were selected from the corpora for detailed analysis that would illustrate the use of the various strategies and frames found to characterise the Discourse. The first more quantitative analysis provided an overview of patterns, trends and editorial practices typically used in the media representations. The second more qualitative analysis provided insight into the finer details of media presention of ideas aimed at affecting the knowledge and attitudes of the intended and imagined readers. The findings of these analyses were presented in terms of quantifiable results as well as detailed descriptions. In broad strokes, the quantifiable findings showed that the Mail & Guardian corpus was significantly more outspoken in advocating for gay rights than the City Press corpus, and that both publications frequently framed homosexuality in terms of “tolerance”, “religion” and “rights”. The quantifiable findings also showed that in their discourses of gay tolerance and gay rights, both the City Press and the Mail & Guardian made significant use of frames typically and widely used by the media in the discourse of political change at the time. The detailed analyses investigated the textual reproduction of the authors’ ideologies, drawing attention to their regular reliance on certain types of arguments used for and against gay rights in the selected newspapers.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif lewer verslag oor ‘n studie wat die toegepaste taalwetenskapterreine van diskoersanalise en kritiese diskoersanalise asook ‘n sosiolinguistiese terrein wat sedert onlangs “queer-taalwetenskap” genoem word, betrek. In die studie word daar ondersoek ingestel na die linguistiese konstruksie van gaymobilisering in Suid-Afrikaanse mediadiskoerse wat oor ‘n tydperk van bykans 30 jaar strek. Die doel van die studie was om eienskappe van die Diskoers wat die gaybevrydingsbeweging topikaliseer te identifiseer, met inagname van spesifiek die taalkundige middele gebruik tydens die artikulering van die behoefte aan en die reg tot gaybevryding aan die een kant en die openbare weerstand teen die erkenning van gayregte aan die ander kant. Die analises van die verskillende standpunte, gesindhede, sosiale posisies en argumente ten gunste van of teen die instelling en beskerming van gayregte in post-apartheid Suid-Afrika beroep hulself op ‘n sosiale teorie wat as “ramingsteorie” (Engels: framing theory) geïdentifiseer is. Die projek neem kritiese diskoersanalise as hoof teoretiese raamwerk aan, veral kritiese diskoersanalise se toepassings in die oorweging van kenmerke en funksies van mediadiskoerse. Eerstens, deur die aandrang van die Diskoers-historiese benadering voorgestel deur Wodak (1990) te volg, word daar ‘n oorsig oor die sosiale en historiese konteks gegee waarin die erkenning van gayregte in Suid-Afrika ontwikkel het. Die analitiese metodologie voorgestel deur van Dijk (1985) word gebruik tydens die oorweging van kwessies rakende “taal en mag” asook wyses waarop sogenaamde “elites” se toegang tot media-aandag betrek word om geloofwaardigheid aan bepaalde ideologieë te verleen. Aanvullend tot die toepassing van kritiese diskoersanalise-metodes word ‘n analitiese benadering uit die terreine van Sosiale Bewegingsteorie en Kollektiewe Ramingsteorie betrek om sin te maak uit die diskursiewe strategieë wat (spesifiek van die vroeë 1980s tot 2006) geïmplementeer is in die Diskoers wat tematies aan die Suid-Afrikaanse gaybevrydingsbeweging verbind is. Hierdie tydperk is gekenmerk deur die beweging se nastrewing van sosiale mobilisering. Aandag is verleen aan die wyses waarop argumente ten guste van en teen gayregte geïnstansieer is in die media deur gebruik te maak van ‘n verskeidenheid rame. Só ‘n analise kan die mate waarin die “anti-apartheid” meesterraam deur spelers in die gaybevrydingsbeweging gebruik is, onthul. Gebaseer op hul oplaagdemografie is bydraes in twee Suid-Afrikaanse weeklikse koerante, City Press en Mail & Guardian gesif om artikels en briewe aan die redakteur relevant tot die gaybevrydingsdiskoers te identifiseer. Die vol getal gepubliseerde items wat homoseksualiteit direk en/of indirek topikaliseer, is as twee korpusse versamel om sodoende die wyses te ondersoek waarop hulle bydra tot openbare diskoerse van gaybevryding. Twee analitiese oefeninge is uitgevoer: eerstens is die inhoud van die volledige datastel geëtiketteer en gekategoriseer op grond van die teks-aard van die koerantitem en die tipe rame wat in die item se aanbieding gebruik is; tweedens is ‘n aantal artikels en briewe uit die korpusse geselekteer vir gedetailleerde analise wat die gebruik van verskeie strategieë en rame sou illustreer wat bevind is om kenmerkend van die Diskoers te wees. Die eerste, meer kwantitatiewe analise het ‘n oorsig gegee oor patrone, tendense en redaksionele praktyke wat tipies in die mediavoorstellings gebruik is. Die tweede, meer kwalitatiewe analise het insig gegee in die fyner besonderhede van mediavoorstelling van idees wat daarop gemik is om die kennis en gesindhede van die bedoelde en denkbeeldige lesers te affekteer. Die bevindinge van hierdie analises is in terme van kwantifiseerbare resultate asook gedetailleerde beskrywings aangebied. In breë trekke het die kwantifiseerbare bevindinge daarop gedui dat die Mail & Guardian-korpus beduidend meer uitgesproke as die City Press-korpus was in die bepleiting van gayregte, en dat beide koerante gereeld homoseksualiteit in terme van “toleransie”, “godsdiens” en “regte” geraam het. Die kwantifiseerbare bevindinge het ook aangetoon dat beide City Press en Mail & Guardian beduidend van rame gebruik gemaak het wat tipies en wyd in daardie stadium deur die media gebruik is in die diskoers van politieke verandering. Die gedetailleerde analises het ondersoek ingestel na die tekstuele reproduksie van die skrywers se ideologieë, en spesifiek die aandag gevestig op hul gereelde staatmaking op sekere tipes argumente wat in die geselekteerde koerante vir en teen gayregte gebruik is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85802
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