'Curvy, hunky, kinky': Using corpora as tools for critical analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article, an expanded version of an oral presentation in 1999, uses corpus methodology as a research tool to investigate how social actors are classified in the public discourse of the media, with lexis as our point of entry. Our main focus is the nature of the labels which provide categorization, especially of gender relations. Our main claim is that uses of premodification associated with the two types of newspapers in Britain and their lexical choices produce differential judgmental stances that have social effects. In the first of two complementary studies, we discuss the adjective lexicon of the tabloid press in comparison with quality newspapers, with curvy, hunky and kinky as exemplars with respect to sexualization and the construction of gender. In our second study, we discuss adjectival premodification of man, woman, girl and boy in tabloids and broadsheets: our findings show that the media categorizes people through very specific points of view and values not always apparent to a non-critical reader. Collocational patterns undoubtedly reveal societal and sociolectal attitudes, especially in terms of stereotypes of gender, sexualization, age and behaviour. Our main aim, therefore, is to show that corpus studies can help to deconstruct hidden meanings and the asymmetrical ways people are represented in the press.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-133
Number of pages35
JournalDiscourse and Society
Volume21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010

Keywords

  • journalism, social actors, adjectives, ideology, sexualization, gender, corpus linguistics, media representation, categorization