Domestic Violence in the Hungarian Media 2002-2013: the Mediation of Suffering and the Role of the Media as a Moral Agent for Social Change
I am exploring the portrayal of domestic violence (DV) in the Hungarian media between 2002 and 2013 and the ways in which these portrayals are discursively constructed and engage their audience emotionally and morally, and also the implications of these portrayals for the power inequalities and the practices for social intervention with regard to domestic violence. With this, I aim to generate corrections and completions to three research fields, so far generally treated as separated, that is the mainly Anglo-Saxon dominated field of DV media portrayal, the previous literature on Central-Eastern European (CEE) feminist anti-violence activism that currently tends to overlook the role of the media in the development of CEE anti-violence state policies and legislation, and also the study of the democratising role of the newly introduced CEE media systems where previous literature did not treat gender as an analytical category. The period between 2002 and 2013, where the starting and closing dates are marked by two fundamental cases in the history of the Hungarian DV media portrayal seems to be capable to shake some taken-for-granted underlying assumptions of each of the above-mentioned research fields, moreover, also the assumption that these fields can be studied completely separated from one another in CEE countries.
I take domestic violence as discursively constructed, in the Foucauldian sense of discourse, and employ a theoretical framework that combines theories on mediated suffering by Lilie Chouliaraki and Luc Boltanski with literature (connected to the Affective Turn) that studies the ways in which socially constructed emotions in public texts can contribute to the formation of social and political identities and also practices of social intervention. Moreover, I also rely on previous feminist literature on DV media portrayal and gender representations in the news media in general. As to my methodology, I employ Faircloughian critical discourse analysis and multiple case study applied in a historically comparative way. I explore and analyse altogether four domestic violence cases that achieved outstandingly high media visibility in Hungary between 2002 and 2013, and which, due to their high visibility, can be considered important elements of the historical process that started with the mere “discovery” of DV by the Hungarian media in 2002 and ended in a change of the legislative system, namely the Law on Intimate Partner Violence entering in force in 2013.