‘Wrap our arms around them here in Ireland’: social media campaigns in the Irish abortion referendum

Simon Statham, Helen Ringrow

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Abstract

The 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which codified a near-absolute ban on abortion in Ireland, was ratified in 1983 and removed after a high profile campaign to ‘Repeal the 8th’ in 2018. This article analyses the language of the pro-choice group Together for Yes and the anti-choice groups Love Both and Pro-Life Ireland that campaigned to ‘Save the 8th’. We combine an application of Martin and White’s (2005) Appraisal framework with an account of conceptual metaphor (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980; Charteris-Black, 2004) in a Critical Discourse Analysis of the language of both campaigns on the social network platform Twitter. Both sides of the ‘Repeal Referendum’ strategically utilised language across a wide range of semiotic modes. This article assesses the specific role of social media language in the Irish abortion referendum and connects these strategies to the wider campaign tactics of both sides.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539–557
Number of pages19
JournalDiscourse & Society
Volume33
Issue number4
Early online date27 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • 8th Amendment
  • abortion
  • social media
  • appraisal
  • metaphor

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