Mad Cows & British Politicians: The Role of Scientific and National Identities in Managing Blame for the BSE Crisis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Adopting a discursive psychological approach, this article considers how identity ascription, warranted through rhetorically loaded descriptions of events, objects, places, and people, plays a fundamental role in locating blame for BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) within British House of Commons debates. The parliamentary debates at the 'peak' of the BSE crisis occurred between 20 and 25 March 1996. Within this time span the European Union ban upon the import and export of British beef was imposed. Whilst many theorists have noted that the introduction of the EU ban led to a change in emphasis within media reports, from health and science to national identity, there has been no work that considers how or why this was accomplished in the political debates themselves. At the heart of the parliamentary debates about BSE lies the question of blame. Arguments concerning whose fault the BSE crisis was and the legitimacy of particular kinds of information and action were highly contentious issues during 1996. It is argued that this attribution and avoidance of blame is linked to the construction and invocation of scientific and national identities within political debates.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)173-198
    Number of pages25
    JournalWord and Text
    Volume22
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2002

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