Booing or cheering? Ambiguity in the construction of victimhood in the case of Maria Colwell

Ian Butler, Mark Drakeford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper presents a microanalysis of the media representation of victimhood in key public narratives. It builds on Peelo's account of the 'mediated witness' as part of the struggle for control of the crime agenda. To extend Peelo's analysis to other areas of public policy making, the paper uses the example of an iconic welfare 'scandal' (the Maria Colwell case) and focuses particularly on the role of victims themselves in the struggle to own and exploit victimhood. The paper argues that ambiguity in the ascription of victimhood can reveal points of unresolved tension in the emerging public narrative that the scandal (or crime) is meant to signify, explain and incorporate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-385
Number of pages19
JournalCrime Media Culture
Volume4
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

Keywords

  • emotionality
  • scandal
  • child abuse
  • mediated witness
  • victimhood
  • welfare policy

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