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Post mortem: death-related media rituals

Morse, Tal (2014) Post mortem: death-related media rituals. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The purpose of this thesis is to study whether and how death-related media rituals construct and reconstruct a global cosmopolitan community. The performance of the media at the occurrence of mass death events, may cultivate expressions of grief aimed at reinforcing a certain understanding of the social order. These rituals facilitate a sense of unity and solidarity between members of an imagined community. What kind of community does the enactment of death-related media rituals construct? What is the sense of solidarity they foster? By focusing on the performance of transnational media organisations following mass death events, the thesis studies the ways in which these ritualistic performances function as a social mechanism that informs the audience of the boundaries of care and belonging to an imagined community. Drawing on theories from sociology, media anthropology and moral philosophy, the thesis develops the analytics of mediatised grievability as an analytical tool. It aims to capture the ways in which news about death construct grievable death, and articulate the relational ties between spectators and sufferers. The thesis puts the analytics of mediatised grievability in play and employs it in a comparative manner to study and analyse the coverage of three different case studies by two transnational news networks. This comparative research design captures the complexity of the mediatisation of death in terms of geopolitics, cultural proximity, legitimacy of violence and the morality of witnessing death. The analysis of the three case studies by the two transnational news networks enables to account for different propositions that two of the networks make for their audiences in comprehending remote mass death. These propositions contain different ethical solicitations, each articulating a different understanding of the relational ties between spectators and distant others – some promote a cosmopolitan outlook, and others maintain a communitarian outlook.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Tal Morse
Library of Congress subject classification: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Supervisor: Orgad, Shani and Chouliaraki, Lilie

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