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“Marriage is a societal construct”: stance and argumentation in online news article comments on the topic of same-sex marriage in the UK

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

  • Amanda Potts
Publication date06/2014
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventThe Seventh Inter-Varietal Applied Corpus Studies International Conference (IVACS7) - Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 19/06/201421/06/2014


ConferenceThe Seventh Inter-Varietal Applied Corpus Studies International Conference (IVACS7)
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


In this paper, I investigate frequency of various argumentation strategies and methods of expressing support for, or disagreement with, the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the UK.

Research questions include: 1) In three UK online newspapers, are popular (‘up-voted’) comments in support of or opposition to same sex marriage more frequent? 2) What strategies do users frequently employ to argue their position? 3) Is there evidence some of these strategies are more effective than others? Analysis is based on a custom-compiled, three million-word corpus of comments posted onto online articles from the websites of The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and The Daily Mail.

Qualitative analysis finds that the most frequent argument for same-sex marriage equates lack of support with bigotry, while those arguing against same-sex marriage often declare same-sex acts as ‘disgusting’. In quantitative analysis, the semantic field of politics was key in the Daily Mail, the fields of moralism and religion were key in the Telegraph, and the fields of legality and argumentation were key in the Guardian.

Results indicate differences in ‘popular’ ideologies between publication readerships that are sometimes counterintuitive. Triangulation is found to be a viable method of both quantifying patterns and exposing hidden meanings in discourse.