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Manifestations of moral panic in media images of the Act Amending the Marriage and Family Relations Act

The authors present a corpus-supported analysis of media discourse on the Act Amending the Marriage and Family Relations Act, that would implement a symbolic and legal equality of families of partners of same or different gender. We study a corpus of 69 texts from three online and printed media, Demokracija, Dnevnik and Mladina. Using a quantitative method, we extract the terminology of our corpus: the frequent noun phrases which are specific to our corpus in relation to the reference corpus of ‘general’ Slovene. For the ten top ranked automatically extracted two-word terms, we analyse their original contexts. A qualitative analysis of the selected corpus examples shows that discourses on the Act are related to the ‘natural’ family, ‘theory of gender’, signal the disintegration of values in the society, warn against the influences of the governing elites, and point to the endangerment of the human rights of dominant social groups and endangerment of the nation. The analysis shows that some terms (‘theory of gender’) and discourses significantly mark only the texts in one of the media (Demokracija). These discourses can be understood through the theory of moral panics, functioning as a symptom of tensions and culture wars in a context of wider social change and in the field of cultural and moral regulation. The extent of moral and sexual panics can also be recognised by the fact that it is not only present in the discourses of the texts in Demokracija, but also in the other two media; in Dnevnik we can find responses to the moral panic (or reporting on it), produced by other agents, and in Mladina, the authors very systematically attempt to neutralise the governing moral and sexual panic.


Article inside journal

Issue No. 266 - Social Psychopathology and Paranoia
Časopis za kritiko znanosti
2016 , volume volume 44 , issue issue 266
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