Equal marriage discourse in the Moral Maze

Journal article

With Isabelle van der Bom, Laura Coffey-Glover, Sara Mills & Laura L. Paterson (2015) Implicit homophobic argument structure: Equal marriage discourse in the Moral Maze. Journal of Language and Sexuality, 4(1): 103-18

Manuscript available here.

This article, written by the Discourses of Marriage research group, analyses the linguistic and discursive elements which contribute to the production of implicit homophobia. Explicit homophobia has been well documented and strategies for countering discriminatory language have been developed (Baker, 2014; Leap, 2012). However, our interest here is in documenting implicit homophobia, where homophobic beliefs are only hinted at, are disassociated from the speaker, or are embedded within discursive and argument structures. We decided to analyse the debate in the media around the introduction of equal or same-sex marriage legislation in the UK. We focused our analysis on a series of radio programmes on BBC Radio 4, The Moral Maze, where the issue of same-sex marriage was debated with a team of panellists and invited guests from a range of different organisations. Different perspectives on same sex marriage were discussed, in a seemingly objective and dispassionate way, where the interactants distanced themselves from homophobic beliefs and yet, implicitly subscribed to implicit homophobia. We used an analysis drawing on argumentation structure (Fairclough and Fairclough, 2012) and through focusing on stance, recontextualisation, imaginaries, and metaphor, we developed an analysis which made the way that implicit homophobia works more visible. In this way, we hope to foreground implicit homophobia, and develop a linguistic and discursive `toolkit’ which will enable it to be challenged and countered.

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