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Fear Control in Media Discourse

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This article deals with how fear is misused in media discourse. Pursuing the claim that it is impossible to eliminate fear from the public sphere, this paper argues that fear control is a technique widely used by certain interest groups to generate and spread uncertainty among people in order to create an atmosphere in which their goals are easily reachable. This paper will discuss the concepts of discourse, hegemony, and power relations in order to show how public language (both written and spoken) in media discourse reflects, creates, and maintains power relations. In this sense, fear, which is a crucial “energizing fuel” of such public language, could be considered and further elaborated as both a contextual variable and as a tool for facilitating power relations by applying various techniques. Aiming to show how media use and control the nature and level of fear in public discourse, I will discuss two techniques – the commercialization of fear and the method of “othering.” While commercialization implies the mass (re)production and (re)appropriation of fear in a public space, “othering” has been applied when the object of reporting is an out-group individual or community and self-group is using the media as a tool for their negative portrayal, thus creating boundaries and provoking discrimination and violence. The case of Serbia will be used to indicate how techniques of “othering,” linked with the regime’s propaganda, may contribute to the creation of an atmosphere of fear, and make a people seek protection and become easy prey for manipulation.

Affiliations: 1: University of Belgrade Center for Social Research ANALITIKA, Sarajevo

10.1163/18763332-03702005
/content/journals/10.1163/18763332-03702005
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/content/journals/10.1163/18763332-03702005
2013-01-01
2016-12-02

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