Analytical procedures: deriving the topics of headlines

The derivation of the topics from the headlines follows certain procedures and is predicated upon the importance to summarise information ‘at the expense of the trivia’ (Brown and Day, 1983, p. 2). For this reason, only ‘generalisation’ and ‘zero rule’ are employed in this chapter. The derivation of the topics can differ among different readers since different people may produce different macro-propositions to arrive at the macro-structure of a text (Van Dijk, 1980, p. 230), thus rendering it subjective in nature.

CDA application II: Van Leeuwen’s socio-semantic inventory

The second part of the methodological framework systematically employs Van Leeuwen’s (2008, pp. 23-25) socio-semantic inventory to demonstrate how the social actors are represented in the headlines of the four Western newsmagazines. Although the socio-semantic inventory presented by Van Leeuwen (2008) has 22 representational categories, this chapter employs only five representational categories to examine the linguistic features and discursive practices implied in the headlines of the 80 articles due to their suitability, relevance, and applicability to the examination of the representation of the social actors in the corpus.

Inclusion and exclusion

Exclusion has two subcategories: radical and less radical. Radical exclusion means the complete suppression of the ‘social actors and their activities’ from the text, as ‘they leave no traces in the representation’ (Van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 29). Regarding less radical exclusion, although there are no indications that the excluded social actors are related to a specific action, they are mentioned elsewhere in the text (p. 29). There are four methods that can be employed to realise suppression or backgrounding: passive agent deletion, non-finite clauses, nominalisation, and process nouns and adjectives (pp. 28-32).

Role allocation

In essence, social actors are distinguished in terms of the grammatical participant role they are allocated: activated or passivated. Social actors that are allocated activated roles are represented as active and dynamic in the activities indicated in the texts (Van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 33). Activation can be realised in three ways: (i) participation (the social actors in question are in the subject position of a clause), (ii) circumstantialisation (the social actors concerned are modified with prepositions such as ‘by’ or ‘from’), and (iii) possessivation (the social actors in question are modified with the preposition ‘of’ or the possessive apostrophe). Social actors can also be given passivated roles. By contrast, passivation can be realised in two ways: (i) subjection and (ii) beneficialisation.

Functionalisation, identification, and appraisement

Functionalisation refers to the activities, occupations, or roles of the social actors. According to Van Leeuwen (2008, p. 42), functionalisation can be realised in two ways: (i) by a noun formed from a verb through suffixes, such as -ie, -er, -ant, -ent, or -ian and (ii) by the compounding of nouns denoting places or tools closely associated with an activity. Identification is defined in terms of what social actors ‘more or less permanently, or unavoidably are’ (p. 42). Finally, appraisement can be applied on social actors by means of a set of adjectives, nouns, and idioms that evaluate the social actors as either ‘good or bad, loved or hated, admired or pitied’ (p. 45).

Association and dissociation

According to Van Leeuwen (2008, p. 38), association refers to groups that are formed in relation to a specific activity. Dissociation is thus the antonym of association. Both association and dissociation can be realised in three ways: (i) parataxis, (ii) possessive pronouns and possessive attributive clauses with verbs such as ‘have’ and ‘belong’, and (iii) the circumstances of accompaniment, a concept presented by Halliday and Matthiessen (1999, p. 174), who asserted that it corresponds to an extension of the participant itself.

Personalisation and impersonalisation

In personalisation, social actors are represented as human beings through the use of personal or possessive pronouns, proper names, or nouns whose semantic meaning includes the feature ‘human’ (Van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 46). Such a humanisation strategy has the effect of drawing the social actors closer to the reader. In contrast to personalisation, impersonalisation removes the ‘human’ quality of the social actors. There are two ways to realise impersonalisation: (i) abstraction and (ii) objectivation. For the former, social actors are depicted by means of a ‘quality assigned to them by and in the representation’ (p. 46).

Analytical procedures: representation of social actors

The examination of the representation of the social actors in the headlines of the 80 news articles follows certain procedures. In each of the five representational categories, namely, (i) inclusion and exclusion, (ii) role allocation,

(iii) functionalisation, identification, and appraisement, (iv) association and dissociation, and (v) personalisation and impersonalisation, the quantitative approach is first applied, before the qualitative analysis takes place. It is important to highlight that we can only realise the other representational categories when the social actors are included in the text under analysis.

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