“This is not a riot, it is a protest”: A discourse analysis of prison violence in New Zealand news media
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15392
This thesis examines the discourses of prison violence in the New Zealand news media. Prison violence is a pressing social issue that harms those involved and has permeating consequences for the institution. Prison riots, specifically, involve serious instances of disorder and violence that incur physical, psychological, social and economic harm. Despite prisons being private institutions, prison riots are public events that amass large social responses through news media coverage. The public often use news media to co-construct their perceptions of social phenomena, and policymakers use both public opinion and the news media to guide their decisions when shaping policy. Subsequently, the ways in which the news media discursively construct prison riots will have direct consequences for public attitudes and policy relating to prison violence, a phenomenon that exists outside of the public eye. However, there is currently no research that has examined discourses of prison violence and, further, what the consequences of these discourses may be. Therefore, using a Foucauldian approach to discourse analysis, this study examined the discourses in the news media representations of the large-scale prison violence at the Spring Hill Corrections Facility (2013) and Waikeria Prison (2020-2021). The results uncovered three discourses: the riot discourse, the gang discourse, and the protest discourse. The riot discourse was identified as dominant and constructed prison violence as an individualised issue perpetrated by inherently violent prisoners. The gang discourse worked in conjunction with the riot discourse, constructing prison violence as an individualised issue perpetrated by gang members. The protest discourse was identified as a counter-discourse and constructed the unrest at both facilities as protests against living conditions and inhumane treatment. Each discourse has consequences for public attitudes and in turn, penal policy and practice.
The University of Waikato
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- Masters Degree Theses