Social change and discourse-semantic shifts in The Times (London): The 'at risk' construct in historical perspective

Jens Zinn

CASS, Lancaster University

This presentation reports results from an interdisciplinary research project which utilises corpus linguistics tools to examine long term social changes in the print news media in the UK and Germany. It uses 'risk words' as an entry point to analyse the changing meaning of risk. The presentation focuses on the occurrence and discourse-semantic shifts of the 'at the risk', 'at risk' and 'at-risk' construct in the news coverage of the London Times during the late 19C to early 21C. Building on a number of text corpora of the London Times (all articles published in the volumes from 1870 until today) which are available at the Corpus Approaches to Social Sciences (CASS) research centre, it shows how 'at the risk', 'at risk' and 'at-risk' has become part of the cultural repertoire used in the print news media. The presentation explores how the construct developed in the context of broader social changes. It starts with the notion of 'at the risk' which was originally bound to particular technical issues in relation to shipping and trading until the early 19th Century. It became increasingly overtaken by the 'at risk' construct which during the 20C became linked to economics and in the later decades was used to characterise particular social groups as vulnerable such as babies, children, youth and women. It is now common to describe or scandalise when decision makers 'put others at risk' rather than burdening the possible negative outcomes themselves.

Week 3 2017/2018

Thursday 26th October 2017

Management school LT9