Lisa Staniforth

Lisa Staniforth

The 'Home-grown Terrorist': A Social Representations analysis of UK newsprint media coverage of the 7th July London bombings.

Discipline/professional area


Outline of research project

Prior to the 9th September attacks in the United States in 2001, suicide bombers and aeroplane hijackers were far removed from the Western public agenda. However, subsequent to these events and the West’s response to them, there has been a rise in the number of individuals born, raised and educated in the West committing acts of terrorism in their home countries. Notions of this ‘new terrorism’ underpin shared Western understandings of contemporary terrorism, with the notion of 'home-grown terrorism' reinforcing deeply problematic conceptions of 'Islamic Terrorism'.

Grounded in Discursive Psychology, this large corpus media analysis draws on Rhetorical Social Psychology and Social Representations Theory. It is argued that emerging social representations of contemporary terrorism and the 'Terrorist' identity in UK newsprint media coverage of the 7th July, 2005, London bombings are embedded in well-established notions of Islamic 'Otherness'.

Key references

Billig, M. (2006). Prejudice, categorization and particularization: From a perceptual to a rhetorical approach. European Journal of Social psychology, 15(1), 79-103.

Featherstone, M., Holohan, S., and Poole, E. (2010). Discourses of the War on Terror: Constructions of the Islamic other after 7/7. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 6(2), 169-186.

Howarth, C. (2006). A social representation is not a quiet thing: Exploring the critical potential of social representations theory. British Journal of Social Psychology, 45, 65-86.

Jackson, R. (2007). Constructing Enemies: 'Islamic Terrorism' in political and academic discourse. Government and Opposition, 42 (3), 394 - 426.

Moscovici, S. (1984). The phenomenon of social representations. In. R. M. Farr & S. Moscovici (Eds.), Social representations, (pp. 3-69). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Said, E. W. (1981). Covering Islam. UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.

Director of Studies
Dr Emma Vine

Dr Sonja Ellis

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