A sociological analysis of print media representations of the likely impact of Brexit on European Court of Human rights freedoms
Print media engages in a variety of discourses in accordance with their editorial stance. In this research, the narratives utilized by both the Guardian and Daily Mail around the likely impact on human rights post Brexit are analysed using a rigorous constructivist Grounded theory methodology, to discern and analyse these different perspectives. Articles from both newspapers between April and July 2016 were analysed. Sixty-three articles from the Daily Mail and twenty-nine from the Guardian which discussed the issues of human rights and the European Court of Human rights in the context of Brexit were identified. This Grounded theory analysis led to the creation of three codes: The Principles of Law and Morality, the Implications for Rights and Individual Freedoms and The Politics of ‘Othering’: Us Versus Them. It was discovered that the Guardian’s primary focus was trying to invoke feelings of sympathy toward groups likely to suffer in a post Brexit society, such as the disabled, homosexuals and migrants. To achieve this, the Guardian would make use of sympathetic language and present these groups as being vulnerable to future discrimination, whereas the Daily Mail’s narrative leaned toward a more negative view of these aforementioned groups and by extension the European Court of Human Rights, addressing the differences between immigrants and native-born citizens and associating the former with crime or financial loss to the latter. These three conceptual codes share some common elements and as such can be enveloped into a core concept which helps to explain all three codes: Print media representations of the European Union referendum are characterised by discourses of fear, threat and contested entitlement to human rights.