DISCURSIVE CONSTRUCTION OF IDENTITY IN NIGERIAN NEWSPAPER REPORTS ON PIPELINE VANDALISM
Keywords:Discursive identity construction, pipeline vandalism, newspaper reports, media discourse, Niger Delta, conflict
Scholarly works on pipeline vandalism have paid extensive attention to empirical questions of causes and consequences. But there remains a dearth of studies on the representation of the acts of vandalism in newspapers, which is necessary for evaluating what message about the problem is being disseminated to the citizens and how that could contribute to resolving the problem or sustaining it. This paper examines the identity construction for critical social actors in Nigerian newspaper reports on pipeline vandalism. Sixteen –news samples were purposively selected from three newspapers: The Tide, New Waves, and The Guardian published between 2015 and 2019. Theoretically, the study is anchored on a combination of Fina’s (2011) identity process and van Dijk’s (1995, 2006a, 2006b) in-group/out-group description. The analysis involved accounting for the deployment of group self-schemata (van Dijk, 1995, 2005) and ideological strategies (van Dijk, 2006) in realising the three identity processes of indexing, positioning, and local occasioning established by Fina (2011). The study finds that through a combination of media identity ascription and social actors’ positive-self description in the news reports, each of the major stakeholders in the conflict assumes an identity of innocence and responsible entity while shifting the blame to others. It concludes therefore that this could be responsible for the difficulty in ending the conflict.
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