The discourse of assisted dying in the British vs Italian news media


This paper proposes an investigation into the discourse that surrounds and informs the communication of medically assisted death. The aim is to produce an analysis of assisted dying discourse in the British vs Italian news media to investigate how they construct this type of discourse in terms of actors, ideologies, and cultural aspects. This has been done by collecting a corpus of texts on the topic from English and Italian speaking online quality newspapers. The collection was analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods. The perspective adopted for the qualitative interpretation was that of Critical Discourse Analysis for the socially relevant issues that the topic addresses. Results show how the language used by the media to deal with this bioethical issue reflects that a) in both corpora, actors tend to be the same, including doctors, patients, courts and parliament, especially in the UK, where a law on assisted dying has not been passed yet; b) in both countries, powerful ideologies are at play, principally in the form of Christian views and especially Catholic ones in Italy; c) some cultural differences emerge, especially as regards the diverse legal systems and the specific cases of British or Italian citizens whose stories have contributed to raising awareness on the issue and to influencing the political debate about it in the respective countries.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v29p445

Keywords: assisted dying; euthanasia; health discourse; discourse analysis; science popularisation


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