“But what’s so bad about inequality?” Ideological positioning and argumentation in the representation of economic inequality in the British press


The aim of this chapter is to explore the discursive construction and representation of economic inequality in the British press in the period 2016-2019. For this purpose, the corpus consists of selected newspaper articles from three online newspapers The Guardian (liberal and left-leaning), The Telegraph and Daily Mail (traditionally conservative). A comparative analysis shows not only how the newspapers differ on the lexico-semantic and grammatical level in the discursive construction of key clusters around economic inequality, but also on the ideological argumentative level, in the way journalists position their ideas and engage their readers in order to defend and legitimize arguments. In their representation of economic inequality, the newspapers show through linguistic and argumentation analysis, whether they are aligned with the government, and as such broadly welcome greater wealth inequality, or whether, they actually resist current government policies. Hence, the main objective is to show how UK national newspapers have a double function in both reporting information, and also in construing an argument and aligning the reader to accept that argument. The methodological approach combines Corpus Linguistics (CL) with Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), informed by theories on epistemological and ideological positionings as forms of pragma-dialectical argumentation (van Eermeen 2017; White 2006).

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v42p77

Keywords: argumentation; concur-concede counter patterns; ideological positioning; wealth inequality


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