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I take full responsibility, I take some responsibility, Ill take half of it but no more than that: Princess Diana and the location of blame in the Panorama interview

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date08/1999
JournalDiscourse Studies
Journal number3
Volume1
Number of pages23
Pages297-319
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The focus of this article is the conversational management of blaming and accountability. In particular, we explore how involved speakers routinely allocate and avoid blame in everyday talk. In considering such a problematic notion of social interaction, we analyse the BBC interview between Princess Diana and Martin Bashir that was aired on British national television on 20 November 1995. In the analysis, we consider how different discursive strategies are employed by speakers in ways that work up credible and authentic accounts. More specifically, we argue that Diana attributes blame to external `others' within a negotiated context of routine description of past events. Categories such as `the media', `the royal household' and `Charles' are constructed and made relevant throughout the interview and the analytic interest is what is accomplished rhetorically for both Diana and Bashir. Of further interest is the overall script design of the interview and how devices such as script formulation, stake management, footing shifts and progressive narrative function in the negotiation of blame. We conclude that `doing blaming' is attended to and managed locally by participants in conversation and this `doing' can be accomplished in a number of ways.