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Understanding a liminal condition: comparing emerging representations of the “vegetative state”

Zulato, Edoardo, Montali, Lorenzo and Bauer, Martin W. (2021) Understanding a liminal condition: comparing emerging representations of the “vegetative state”. European Journal of Social Psychology, 51 (6). pp. 936-950. ISSN 0046-2772

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Identification Number: 10.1002/ejsp.2794


Our research explored the social representations of the ‘vegetative state’ across different cultural (India, Italy, and the UK) and social milieus (left-leaning, right-leaning, and religious/tabloid newspapers). The aim was to discover how public discourse engages liminality between life and death. Qualitative and quantitative text analyses were conducted on news headlines and full-texts from British (n = 300), Indian (n = 300), and Italian (n = 300) newspapers published between January 1990 and June 2019. Our study shows three results: (a) the vegetative state is a potentially global issue that remains discussed with local timing and characteristics; (b) it is commonly represented in eight frames of different resonance across cultural milieus; (c) the news flows are organised on different dimensions (quality, political, and ideological). Results shed light on how liminality is discursively managed by the interplay of cultural resources and social positionings. In particular, this suggests a hitherto unrecognised function of the objectification process: personification as position-taking.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2022 10:45
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2022 23:00

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