Fear appeal construction in the Daily Mail Online: a critical discourse analysis of ‘Prime Minister Corbyn and the 1000 days that destroyed Britain’

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Abstract

The rhetorical fear appeal is a technique of political communication that seeks to elicit an emotional response in receivers with the intention of provoking them to political action desired by the rhetor. This paper examines a single example of fear appeal construction in the British press, the Mail Online’s ‘Prime Minister Corbyn and the 1000 days that Destroyed Britain’ (2015), through analysis of its use of two defining political myths, a conservative myth of declinism, and the utopia/anti-utopia binary myth. I firstly examine the origins and contemporary uses of fear appeals as techniques of political persuasion, before going on to examine how these are constructed. I then go on to analyse the Mail Online article’s use of these two powerful political myths, one, declinism, which I argue is utilised descriptively for the purposes of discourse construction, and the other, utopia/anti-utopia, which is utilised instructively. Finally, I propose a method of analysis combining recent approaches to the critical discourse analysis of myth with the cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotion drawn from social psychology, in order to show how the Mail Online article is constructed as a discursive fear appeal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-62
Number of pages18
JournalCritical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines (CADAAD)
Volume9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2017

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discourse analysis
minister
utopia
appeal
myth
anxiety
political communication
political action
social psychology
persuasion
emotion
recipient
discourse

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title = "Fear appeal construction in the Daily Mail Online: a critical discourse analysis of ‘Prime Minister Corbyn and the 1000 days that destroyed Britain’",
abstract = "The rhetorical fear appeal is a technique of political communication that seeks to elicit an emotional response in receivers with the intention of provoking them to political action desired by the rhetor. This paper examines a single example of fear appeal construction in the British press, the Mail Online’s ‘Prime Minister Corbyn and the 1000 days that Destroyed Britain’ (2015), through analysis of its use of two defining political myths, a conservative myth of declinism, and the utopia/anti-utopia binary myth. I firstly examine the origins and contemporary uses of fear appeals as techniques of political persuasion, before going on to examine how these are constructed. I then go on to analyse the Mail Online article’s use of these two powerful political myths, one, declinism, which I argue is utilised descriptively for the purposes of discourse construction, and the other, utopia/anti-utopia, which is utilised instructively. Finally, I propose a method of analysis combining recent approaches to the critical discourse analysis of myth with the cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotion drawn from social psychology, in order to show how the Mail Online article is constructed as a discursive fear appeal.",
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