Other: Furious Commuters and Mobs

A Critical Discourse Analysis of Non-Protestors at an Extinction Rebellion Protest.

In this paper I conduct a Critical Discourse Analysis of the representation of non-protestors at an Extinction Rebellion protest. Whilst news reports are a well-researched text type in Critical Discourse Analysis, there are very few studies analysisng the representation of non-protestors at protest events. Using the frameworks of transitivity and social actor representation, I analyse two news reports of an Extinction Rebellion protest. I argue that analysing the representation of non-protestors can be an effective lens to uncover how reporters positively or negatively frame protest events and the protesting organisations.

The global Climate Emergency has led to environmental movements such as Extinction Rebellion receiving an increased media presence. Fowler (1991) argues that news outlets can use language to ‘reflect, and in return shape, the prevailing attitudes of a society’, so it is worth analysing the language used in news reports about Extinction Rebellion to see what attitudes are reflected and how these attitudes are realised linguistically. Moreover, Stamou (2001) suggests that readers can interpret protest events and the protesting organisations themselves through the lens of non-protestors, an area which has received little attention in critical discourse analysis.

I conduct a critical discourse analysis of the representation of non-protestors in two newspaper reports of an Extinction Rebellion protest. The two reports – from a right wing tabloid and left-wing broadsheet – were chosen to capture differences across newspaper genres and political affiliation. I used the frameworks of transitivity and social actor representation proposed by Halliday and Matthiessen (2013) and Van Leeuwen (2008) respectively to answer my research question: how does the representation of non-protestors affect the representation of Extinction Rebellion?

The representation of non-protestors in the right-wing tabloid serves to construe a dichotomy between protestors and non-protestors in violent material processes. This in turn creates a negative representation of Extinction Rebellion, perhaps in line with their right-wing affiliation. Contrastingly, this dichotomy is not construed in the left-wing broadsheet, where there are considerably fewer violent material processes, and thus representing Extinction Rebellion as a comparatively less violent organisation.


Fowler, R. (1991). Language in the News: Discourse and Ideology in the Press (1st ed.). London: Routledge.
Halliday, M., & Matthiessen, C. (2013). An Introduction to Functional Grammar (3rd ed.). London: Arnold.
Stamou, A. (2001). The Representation of Non-Protestors in a Student and Teacher Protest: A Critical Discourse Analysis of News Reporting in a Greek Newspaper. Discourse And Society, 12(5), 653-680.
Van Leeuwen, T. (2008). Discourse and Practice (1st ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.


Day: 2020-11-19
Start time: 12:15
Duration: 00:30
Room: Clotilde Tambroni
Track: Discourse Analysis
Language: en




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