Macquarie University
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Discourse and the framing of risk

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posted on 2022-03-28, 18:52 authored by Arthur Stuart Firkins
This thesis applies frame analysis (Goffman, 1974; Gumperz, 1982) to the understanding of how risk situations are framed through discourse. It focuses on four professional research sites predominately concerned with risk communication. The thesis develops an understanding of contextualist (social-cultural) theories of risk and pairs this with discourse - interactional approaches to explore how situations of risk are framed though the written accounts of institutional members. Frame analysis is further developed as a method for systematically making sense of discourse complexity, and utilized to understand how the institutional member has aligned situational and cultural frames to construct the account. The thesis both identifies and focuses its analysis on critical moments in the communication of risk, drawing on written as opposed to spoken accounts. Specifically, the thesis suggests that institutional members use the resources of discourse to render visible the 'risk situation at hand' and in so doing frame a particular view of risk which aims to steer action in particular directions. In addition, the thesis argues that institutional members foreground particular 'framing devices' that serve to both attenuate or amplify risk aspects of situations The study of written accounts of risk, it is argued, offers risk communicators insights into how institutional members construe risk within given contexts of situation as they seek to both anchor and align the situation to influence the actions of community members.


Table of Contents

1. Discourse and the framing of risk -- 2. Contextualist approaches to understanding risk -- 3. A phenomenology of risk: methodology I -- 4. Framing the risk situation: methodology II -- 5. Texts of social significance: error, blame and reflexive change -- 6. Framing the child at risk -- 7. Mandatory reporting: framing the space of professional accountability -- 8. Framing the stigmatised situation: travel warnings and the risk society -- 9. H5N1: the precautionary principle framing of the hidden situation -- 10. Rhetorical panic -- Conclusion: framing the risk situation.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 437-520) "30th July 2011".

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Christopher Candlin

Additional Supervisor 1

Anne Burns


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Arthur Stuart Firkins 2012.




1 online resource (xiii, 520 pages) illustrations

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