Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2211-3770
  • E-ISSN: 2211-3789
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


This paper interrogates media representations of same-sex marriage debates in the UK using a combination of corpus linguistics tools and close reading, and drawing on Queer Linguistics. Following related work by Bachmann (2011) , Baker (2004) , and Love and Baker (2015) , we analyse a 1.3 million-word corpus of UK national newspaper texts compiled for the Discourses of Marriage Research Group. Our corpus stretches from September 2011 and the announcement of a government consultation on same-sex marriage, to April 2014 when the first same-sex marriages took place. Using a top-down approach we investigate the discourses drawn upon in same-sex marriage debates (as indexed by keywords and key semantic fields) and uncover the binary social categories used to normalise social structures and hold the same-sex marriage debate in place. We also consider which social actors are (not) given a voice and/or agency and discuss how (same-sex) marriage is constituted.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bachmann, Ingo
    2011 Civil partnership – “gay marriage in all but name”: A corpus-driven analysis of discourses of same-sex relationships in the UK parliament. Corpora6(1): 77–105.10.3366/cor.2011.0005
    https://doi.org/10.3366/cor.2011.0005 [Google Scholar]
  2. Baker, Paul
    2004 “Unnatural acts”: Discourses of homosexuality within the House of Lords debates on gay male law reform. Journal of Sociolinguistics8(1): 88–106.10.1111/j.1467‑9841.2004.00252.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2004.00252.x [Google Scholar]
  3. Barrett, Rusty
    2002 Is queer theory important for sociolinguistic theory?InLanguage and Sexuality: Contesting Meaning in Theory and Practice, Kathryn Campbell-Kibler , Robert J. Podesva , Sarah J. Roberts & Andrew Wong (eds), 25–43. Stanford: CSLI Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. BBC
    BBC 2017 Heterosexual couple lose civil partnership challenge. BBC News. www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39039146 (July 13, 2017)
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Butler, Judith
    1990Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. 1993Bodies that Matter. New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Findlay, Jamie
    2017 Unnatural acts lead to unconsummated marriages: Discourses of homosexuality within the House of Lords revisited. Journal of Language and Sexuality6(1): 30–60.10.1075/jls.6.1.02fin
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jls.6.1.02fin [Google Scholar]
  8. Jäkel, Olaf
    2014 Denotational boundary disputes in political discourse: Defining the definition of marriage. Journal of Language and Politics13(2): 336–363.10.1075/jlp.13.2.07jak
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlp.13.2.07jak [Google Scholar]
  9. Kilgarriff, Adam , Rychlý, Pavel , Smrž, Pavel & Tugwell, David
    2004 The Sketch Engine. Information Technology. www.sketchengine.co.uk (May 13, 2017)
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Koller, Veronika
    2009 Analysing collective identity in discourse: Social actors and contexts. InCritical Discourse Analysis I: Notions of Context and Social Actors, Adele Petitclerc & Philippe Schepens (eds), 69–95. Besançon–Cedex: Presses Universitaire de Franche–Comté.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Leap, William
    2013 Queering language and normativity. Discourse & Society24(5): 643–648.10.1177/0957926513490320
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926513490320 [Google Scholar]
  12. Love, Robbie & Baker, Paul
    2015 The hate that dare not speak its name?Journal of Language, Aggression and Conflict3(1): 57–86.10.1075/jlac.3.1.03lov
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlac.3.1.03lov [Google Scholar]
  13. Motschenbacher, Heiko & Stegu, Martin
    2013 Queer Linguistic approaches to discourse. Discourse & Society24(5): 519–535.10.1177/0957926513486069
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926513486069 [Google Scholar]
  14. OED
    OED 1989Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Rayson, Paul
    2009 Wmatrix: A web-based corpus processing environment. Computing Department, Lancaster University. ucrel.lancs.ac.uk/wmatrix/ (April 8, 2017)
  16. Scott, Mike
    2012WordSmith Tools version6. Liverpool: Lexical Analysis Software
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Thompson, Geoff
    2004Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Hodder Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Turner, Georgina , Mills, Sara , van der Bom, Isabelle , Coffey-Glover, Laura , Paterson, Laura L. & Jones, Lucy
    2018 Opposition as victimhood in media debates about same-sex marriage. Discourse & Society29(2): 180–197.10.1177/0957926517734422
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926517734422 [Google Scholar]
  19. van der Bom, Isabelle , Coffey-Glover, Laura , Jones, Lucy , Mills, Sara & Paterson, Laura L.
    2015 Implicit homophobic argument structure: Equal marriage discourse in The Moral Maze. Journal of Language and Sexuality4(1): 102–137.10.1075/jls.4.1.04mil
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jls.4.1.04mil [Google Scholar]
  20. van Leeuwen, Theo
    1996 The representation of social actors. InTexts and Practices: Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis, Carmen Rosa Caldas-Coulthard & Malcolm Coulthard (eds), 32–70. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. 2008Discourse and Practice: New Tools for Critical Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195323306.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195323306.001.0001 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error