Reacting to Black Lives Matter: The discursive construction of racism in UK newspapers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May 2020, and the international uprisings which followed, racism moved to the forefront of public discourse. Yet, racism has no fixed interpretation and is a term used by different individuals and organisations for various functional and ideological purposes. This study provides an analysis of the ways that racism is discussed in four UK newspapers using a mixed-methods framework incorporating critical race theory, corpus linguistics, and the discourse-historical approach. It is argued that, as the protests were taking place, systemic racism began to be foregrounded over individualised forms of racism in newspaper discourse. However, journalists continued to use strategies of positive self-presentation to place racism outside of themselves and within racist ‘others’, leading them to stand against racism in the abstract, while potentially diminishing possibilities for structural change.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date25 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2022


  • UK
  • discourse
  • news media
  • racism
  • systemic racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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