1st Edition

Power, Media and the Covid-19 Pandemic Framing Public Discourse

Edited By Stuart Price, Ben Harbisher Copyright 2022
    320 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    320 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This edited collection provides an in-depth, interdisciplinary critique of the acts of public communication disseminated during a major global crisis.

    Encompassing contributions from academics working in the fields of politics, environmentalism, citizens’ rights, state theory, cultural studies, journalism, and discourse/rhetoric, the book offers an original insight into the relationship between the various social forces that contributed to the ‘Covid narrative’. The subjects analysed here include: the performance of the ‘mainstream’ media, the quality of political ‘messaging’ and argumentation, the securitised state and racism in Brazil, the growth of ‘catastrophic management’ in UK universities, emergent journalistic practices in South Africa, homelessness and punitive dispossession, the pandemic and the history of eugenics, and the Chinese media’s attempt to disguise discriminatory practices. This is one of the first comparative studies of the various rationales offered for state/corporate intervention in public life. Delving beneath established political tropes and state rhetoric, it identifies the power relations exposed by an event that was described as unprecedented and unique, but was in fact comparable to other major global disruptions. As governments insisted on distinguishing their own propaganda from unregulated disinformation, their increasingly sceptical ‘publics’ pursued their own idiosyncratic solutions to the crisis, while the apparent sacrifice of a host of citizens – from the most dedicated to the most vulnerable – suggested that inequality and exploitation remained at the heart of the social order.

    Power, Media, and the Covid-19 Pandemic is essential reading for students, researchers and academics in media, communication and journalism studies, politics, environmental sciences, critical discourse analysis, cultural studies, and the sociology of health.

    Introduction: Power, Media, and the Covid-19 Pandemic: framing public discourse

    PART I: The Pandemic: historical, medical and racial configurations

    1 Killing Fields: Pandemics, Geopolitics and Environmental Emergency

    Graham Murdock

    2 Biopolitics, Eugenics and the New State Racism

    Ben Harbisher

    3 The Subsumption of Racial Discrimination: the representation of Chinese mainstream media of the maltreatment of African nationals in Guangzhou during the Covid-19 Pandemic

    Zhou Yang and Na Yuqi

    PART II: Power, Crisis and Repression

    4 The Cultural Politics of Crisis in the UK

    Ben Whitham

    5 UK Universities during Covid-19: catastrophic management, ‘business continuity’, and education workers

    Stuart Price

    6 Covid-19, Police Brutality and the systematic targeting of the black and disadvantaged population in Brazil

    Fernanda Amaral

    PART III: Journalism, Information and Structures of Argument during Covid-19

    7 Just Following the Science: fact-checking journalism and the Government’s lockdown argumentation

    Jen Birks

    8 The burden of responsibility: Investigative journalism in South Africa during the Covid-19 crisis

    Allen Munoriyarwa

    9 "It's just a little flu": Covid, institutional crisis and information wars in Brazilian journalism - the Folha de São Paulo newspaper

    Thaiane Oliveira, Rodrigo Quinan, Juliana Gagliardi, and Afonso de Albuquerque

    PART IV: British Political Discourse during the Pandemic

    10 The BBC and Covid-19: the Politicisation of a Pandemic?

    Sumaya Alnahed

    11 How the UK Government ‘turned on a sixpence’ to change its story: a discourse analysis of the No.10 daily coronavirus news conferences

    Ruth Garland

    12 Mortality, Blame Avoidance and the State: constructing Boris Johnson’s exit strategy

    Leighton Andrews

    PART V: Homelessness and Dispossession during the Pandemic

    13 Has homeless rough sleeping in the UK and Europe been solved in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic?

    Jo Richardson

    14 Leper Islands: Coronavirus and the Homeless ‘Other’

    Simon Stevens


    Stuart Price is Professor of Media and Political Discourse, and Director of the Media Discourse Centre. He is the author of a number of monographs including Brute Reality (2010) and Worst-Case Scenario? (2011) and Editor (with Ruth Sanz Sabido) of The Legacy of Dissent (2015) and Sites of Protest (2016). Recent publications include Journalism, Power and Investigation (2019) and "8M and the Huelga General Feminista, 2019–2020" for The Routledge Companion to Political Journalism (2021).

    Ben Harbisher is Senior Lecturer in Teaching and Research at De Montfort University. He is Deputy Director of the Media Discourse Centre and Chair of the MeCCSA Practice Network. He has published in several academic journals and edited volumes, with lead articles in the Journal for the Study of British Cultures and Hard Times. Other published works appear in Surveillance and Society and Critical Discourse Analysis. Dr Harbisher is also Lead Academic on the international #SDGFilmfest, which is a collaborative research project between the UK and South East Asia.

    'Coterminous with the Covid-19 crisis has been a global "infodemic", as responses by governments, political actors and publics have met, meshed and competed in the multi-dimensional media spaces formed by mass self-communication. One of the many strengths of this volume is its multiple disciplinary lenses, deployed to ask a question of strategic importance: has the pandemic reinforced existing relations of power and dominance? The book will prove a significant asset for researchers in many fields as they meet the challenges bequeathed by events that have dominated news agendas over the past two years.. 

    Professor Jake Lynch, University of Sydney, and Leverhulme Visiting Professor, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, UK