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A qualitative appraisal of the construal and inculcation of shared frames of (p)reference in Australian media commentaries about China

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posted on 2022-10-05, 01:28 authored by Alan W. Aves

This exploratory study is driven by two research questions, (1) how do Australian newspapers construe preferred stances about China? And (2) is there a generalisable taxonomy of frames used by Australian newspapers to (re)frame preferred media construals about China? To answer these questions, the study analyses forty broadly representative samples of print media commentaries drawn from two Australian newspapers, The Daily Telegraph, and The Age. The samples cover two three-month periods, a year apart, from 2019 and 2020 respectively. 

The study, which is largely positioned within a social constructivist framework, argues Australian newspaper commentaries not only inform, but are also informed by ideological, economic, political, and social expectations, and that they routinely position themselves with respect to alternative voices using rhetorically persuasive framings of issues and events to promote their preferred views about China. 

To test this argument, and also contribute to existing media research, the study adopts a Critical Discourse Studies approach employing two distinct methodologies, the Appraisal Framework (Martin & White, 2005) and Frame Semantics (Fillmore, 1982/2006). The study, taking a relatively broad approach, explores the mechanisms newspapers apply to adjust value positions, and negotiate attitudes and the interplay of different perspectives to infer, articulate and repeatedly direct readers’ attention towards making sense of and adopting shared representations about China. 

The findings reveal that although the total number of newspaper articles referring to China was 104% higher in 2020 than for the same period in 2019, the distribution of preferred framings about issues and events remained more or less consistent for the forty analysed samples. The appraisal framework analysis uncovered almost 68% of the articles restricted the number of dialogistically alternative voices and positions allowed, and the frame semantics analysis discovered all articles drew on a taxonomy of only nine frames to construe their stances about China. 


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction -- Chapter 2 Literature review -- Chapter 3 Methodology -- Chapter 4 Results -- Chapter 5 Discussion -- Chapter 6 Conclusion -- References -- Appendix A – Glossary of terms, concepts and clarifications -- Appendix B – Collected data catalogue -- Appendix C – The Daily Telegraph media bias/fact check -- Appendix D – The Age media bias/fact check -- Appendix E – Analysis results summary -- Appendix F – The Daily Telegraph articles -- Appendix G – The Age articles -- Appendix H – Representative sample of AF analysed articles -- Appendix I – Representative sample of FS analysed articles


This thesis is presented as a partial fulfilment to the requirements for the degree of Master of Research

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics, 2020

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jill Murray

Additional Supervisor 1

Annabelle Lukin


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