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Ideology in Disguise: Place Name Metonyms and the Discourse of Newspaper Headlines

Lewin-Jones, Jenny and Webb, Michael (2013) Ideology in Disguise: Place Name Metonyms and the Discourse of Newspaper Headlines. Sociological Research online, 4 (18). ISSN 1360-7804

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Abstract

'Place metonyms' are figures of speech which use place names as shortcuts, for example Whitehall to mean the British civil service, or Europe for the institutions of the European Union. The paper examines place metonyms in the headlines of two British newspapers, the Sun and the Guardian. Using evidence from a 12-month period in 2011–12, a headline-by-headline linguistic analysis is used to work out the denotations and wider connotations of each metonym. This critical discourse approach suggests that such place metonyms in headlines have three problematic effects: firstly they may conceal agency and responsibility within some public bodies, secondly for some social institutions, they give an exaggerated impression of unity and homogeneity, and finally for a further list of institutions, they offer relentless pejorative evaluative colouring. These effects are found not only in the right-of-centre Sun but also to some extent in the more progressive newspaper, the Guardian. The authors speculate that it may be difficult for readers of newspapers to think critically about place metonyms in headlines. In particular, place metonyms may subtly reinforce any impression that public institutions are fixed entities, not susceptible to challenge, and may facilitate the polarised value-judgments that are characteristic of 'headlinese'. Such social constructions support some of the central tenets of neo-liberal, capitalist ideology, and so subtly add to the news media's distorting representations of public matters.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Keywords: metonyms, place names, metaphor, media, headlines, language, discourse, ideology, nationalism
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts
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Depositing User: Jenny Lewin-Jones
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2014 13:52
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2014 13:52
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/3388

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