Gender and Language, Vol 7, No 3 (2013)

Domestic violence and public participation in the media: The case of citizen journalism

Patricia Bou-Franch


Recent research suggests that as a social public problem, domestic violence is sustained in a number of social contexts that naturalize violence against women through gendered discourses and ideologies of male violence. This paper examines domestic violence vis-à-vis public participation in the media. In doing so, it seeks to explore the social public aspects of domestic violence and to investigate whether the gendered discourse of male violence is also sustained through the new electronic spaces of public participation. To this end, a corpus of unsolicited digital comments – a form of ‘citizen journalism’ – to a British online newspaper was compiled and analysed. This paper draws from research on gender, pragmatics and critical/computer-mediated discourse analysis. The analysis reveals that some citizen journalists resorted to abuse-sustaining discourses; these were challenged by others who questioned the gendered ideologies of male violence against women.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/genl.v7i3.275


Adams, P. J., Towns, A. and Gavey, N. (1995) Dominance and entitlement: The rhetoric men use to discuss their violence towards women. Discourse & Society 6: 387–406.
Allan, S. and Thorsen, E. (2009) Introduction. In S. Allan and E. Thorsen (eds) Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives 1–16. New York: Peter Lang.
Anderson, K. L. and Umberson, D. (2001) Gendering violence: Masculinity and power in men’s accounts of domestic violence. Gender & Society 15(3): 358–80. http://dx.
Bengoechea, M. (2006) ‘Rompo tus miembros uno a uno’ (Pablo Neruda): de la reificación a la destrucción en los discursos masculinos sobre la mujer. Cuadernos de Trabajo Social 19: 25–41. Retrieved on October 2011 from
Bengoechea, M. (2010) El lenguaje y la cultura como mecanismos de producción y legitimación de la violencia de género. Paper presented at the International Conference on Gender Violence: Contexts, Discourses and Representations, Valencia, November 2010.
Boonzaier, F. (2008) ‘If the man says so you must sit, then you must sit’: The relational construction of woman abuse: Gender, subjectivity and violence. Feminism and Psychology 18(2): 183–206.
Bostock, J., Plumpton, M. and Pratt, R. (2009) Domestic violence against women: Understanding social processes and women’s experiences. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology 19: 95–110.
Bou-Franch, P., Lorenzo-Dus, N. and Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, P. (2010) The discursive construction of domestic violence in YouTube. Paper presented at the International Conference on Gender Violence: Contexts, Discourses and Representations, Valencia, November 2010.
Bou-Franch, P., Lorenzo-Dus, N. and Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, P. (2012) Social interaction in YouTube text-based polylogues: A study of coherence. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 17(4): 50–521.
Bruns, A. (2005) Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production. New York: Peter Lang.
Chouliaraki, L. (2010). Introduction. Self-mediation: New media and citizenship. Critical Discourse Studies 7(4): 227–232.
Christie, C. (1998) Rewriting rights: A relevance theoretical analysis of press constructions of sexual harassment and the responses of readers. Language and Literature 7(3): 214–234.
Christie, C. (2000) Gender and Language: Towards a Feminist Pragmatics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Coates, L. and Wade, A. (2004) ‘Telling it like it isn’t’: Obscuring perpetrator responsibility for violent crime. Discourse & Society 15: 499–526.
Domingo, D., Quandt, T., Heinonen, A., Paulussen, S., Singer J. B. and Vujnovic, M. (2008) Participatory journalism practices in the media and beyond. Journalism Practice 2(3): 326–342.
Drew, P. and Heritage, J. (1992) Analyzing talk at work: An introduction. In P. Drew and J. Heritage (eds) Talk at Work: Interaction in Institutional Settings 3–65. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ehrlich, S. (2008) Sexual assault trials, discursive identities and institutional change. In R. Dolón and J. Todolí (eds) Analysing Identities in Discourse 159–177. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Eisikovits, Z. and Buchbinder, E. (1997) Talking violent: A phenomenological study of metaphors battering men use. Violence against Women 3(5): 482–498.
Fairclough, N. (2003) Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. London: Routledge.
Fernández Díaz, N. (2004) La violencia sexual y su representación en la prensa. Barcelona: Anthropos.
Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, P. (2010) The YouTubification of politics, impoliteness and polarization. In R. Taiwo (ed.) Handbook of Research on Discourse Behavior and Digital Communication: Language Structures and Social Interaction 540–563. New York: IGI Global.
Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, P., Bou-Franch, P. and Lorenzo-Dus, N. (2013a) Identity and impoliteness: The expert in the talent show Idol. Journal of Politeness Research 9(1): 97–120.
Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, P., Lorenzo-Dus, N. and Bou-Franch, P. (2013b) Relational work in anonymous, asynchronous communication: A study of (dis)affiliation in YouTube. In I. Kecskes and J. Romero-Trillo (eds) Linguistic Aspects of Intercultural Pragmatics 343–365. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Hermida, A. and Thurman, N. (2008) A clash of cultures: The integration of user-generated content within professional journalistic frameworks at British newspaper websites. Journalism Practice 2(3): 343–356.
Herring, S. C. (2010) Computer-mediated conversation: Introduction and overview. Language@Internet 7.
Home Office (2000) Domestic violence: Break the Chain Multi-agency Guidance for Addressing Domestic Violence. Retrieved from
Hydén, M. (1999) ‘The world of the Fearful’: Battered women’s narratives of leaving abusive husbands. Feminism & Psychology 9(4): 449–69.
Hydén, M. (2005) ‘I must have been an idiot to let it go on’: Agency and positioning in battered women’s narratives of leaving. Feminism & Psychology 15(2): 169–88.
Ihlström, C. and Lundberg, J. (2002) The online news genre through the user perspective. In Proceedings of the 36th Hawaii Internacional Conference on System Sciences. IEEE Computer Society Press. Retrieved on 11 December 2011 from
Jackson, S. (2001) ‘Happily never after’: Young women’s stories of abuse in hetero-sexual love relationships. Feminism & Psychology 11(3): 305–21.
Jones, J. and Peccei, J. S. (2004) Language and politics. In L. Thomas, S. Wareing, I. Singh, J. S. Peccei, J. Thornbarrow and J. Jones (eds) Language, Society and Power 35–54. London: Routledge.
Kerbrat-Orecchioni, C. (2004) Introducing polylogue. Journal of Pragmatics 36: 1–24.
Livingstone, S. and Lunt, P. (1994) Talk on Television: Audience Participation and Public Debate. London: Routledge.
Lledó, E. (2010) La representación de la violencia de género en los medios de comunicación. Paper presented at the International Conference on Gender Violence: Contexts, Discourses and Representations, Valencia, November 2010.
Lorenzo-Dus, N. and Bryan, A. (2011) Recontextualizing participatory journalists’ mobile media in British television news: A case study of the live coverage and commemorations of the 2005 London bombings. Discourse & Communication 5(1): 23–40.
Lorenzo-Dus, N., Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, P. and Bou-Franch, P. (2011) On-line polylogues and impoliteness: The case of postings sent in response to the Obama Reggaeton YouTube video. Journal of Pragmatics 43: 2578–93.
Lundberg, J. (2001) On-line newspapers and genre development on the world wide web. In S. Bjørnestad, R. E. Moe, A. I. Morch and A. L. Opdahl (eds) Proceedings of the 24th Information Systems Research Seminar in Scandinavia 505–518. Bergen: University of Bergen, Norway.
Mildorf, J. (2002) ‘Opening up a can of worms’: Physician’s narrative construction of knowledge about domestic violence. Narrative Inquiry 12(2): 233–260.
Mills, S. (2008) Language and Sexism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Morris, A. (2009) Gendered dynamics of abuse and violence in families: Considering the abusive household gender regime. Child Abuse Review 18: 414–427.
Muehlenhard, C. L. and Kimes, L. A. (1999) The social construction of violence: The case of sexual and domestic violence. Personality and Social Psychology Review 3(3): 234–245.
Neurauter-Kessels, M. (2011) Im/polite reader responses on British online news sites. Journal of Politeness Research 7: 187–214.
O’Connor, P. (1995) Discourse of violence: Introduction. Discourse & Society 6: 309–318.
Patrona, M. (2005) Speaking authoritatively: On the modality and factuality of expert talk in Greek television studio discussion programs. Text 25(2): 233–267.
Santaemilia, J. and Maruenda, S. (2013) Semantic prosodies and discourse constellations in (de)legitimising naming practices in newspaper discourse. In I. Kecskes and J. Romero Trillo (eds) Applied Intercultural Pragmatics 439–457. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Santaemilia, J., Maruenda, S. and Clavel, B. (2010) ¿Violencia de género, doméstica o machista? Violencia contra la mujer y diversidad discursiva. Paper presented at the International Conference on Gender Violence: Contexts, Discourses and Representations, Valencia, November 2010.
Schegloff, E.A. (1992) On talk and its institutional occasions. In P. Drew and J. Heritage (eds) Talk at Work: Interaction in Institutional Settings 10–134. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sonwalkar, P. (2009) Citizen journalism in India: The politics of recognition. In S. Allan and E. Thorsen (eds) Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives 75–84. New York: Peter Lang.
Stokoe, E. (2010) ‘I’m not gonna hit a lady’: Conversation analysis, membership categorization and men’s denials of violence towards women. Discourse & Society 21(1): 59–82.
Thurman, N. (2008) Forums for citizen journalism? Adoption of user generated content initiatives by online news media. New Media & Society 10: 139–157.
Towns, A. and Adams, P. (2000) ‘If I really loved him enough, he would be okay’: Women’s accounts of male partner violence. Violence Against Women 6(6): 558–85.
Trinch, S. (2007) Deconstructing the ‘stakes’ in high stakes gatekeeping interviews: Battered women and narration. Journal of Pragmatics 39: 1895–1918.
Turner, G. (2010) Ordinary People and the Media: The Demotic Turn. London: Sage.
Upadhyay, S. R. (2010) Identity and impoliteness in computer-mediated reader responses. Journal of Politeness Research 6: 105–127.
van Dijk, T. A. (1995) The violence of text and talk: Editorial. Discourse & Society 6: 307–308.
van Dijk, T. A. (1998) Opinions and ideologies in the press. In P. Garrett and A. Bell (eds) Approaches to Media Discourse 21–63. Blackwell: Oxford.
van Dijk, T. A. (2006) Ideology and discourse analysis. Journal of Political Ideologies 11(2): 115–140.
Van Leeuwen, T. (1996) The representation of social actors. In R. Caldas-Coulthard and M. Coulthard (eds) Texts and Practices: Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge.
Van Leeuwen, T. and Wodak, R. (1999) Legitimazing immigration control: A discourse-historical analysis. Discourse Studies 1(1): 83–118.
Wheeler, D. (2009) Violent images? The representation of gender violence in contemporary British and American cinema. Plenary Speech for the Gentext Meeting, Valencia 2009.
Wood, J. T. (2001) The normalization of violence in heterosexual romantic relationships: Women’s narratives of love and violence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 18(2): 239–62.
Wood, J. T. (2004) Monsters and victims: Male felons’ accounts of intimate partner violence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 21(5): 555–76.
Zaragoza, M. G. and Vázquez, S. (2010) El ciberescape a la violencia de género: Los foros como espacios narrativos de liberación. Paper presented at the International Conference on Gender Violence: Contexts, Discourses and Representations, Valencia, November 2010.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: