Hierarchies of wounding: Media framings of ‘combat’ and ‘non-combat’ injury

Research paper by Nick Caddick, Linda Cooper, Lauren Godier-McBard, Matt Fossey

Indexed on: 31 Jan '20Published on: 13 Jan '20Published in: Media, War & Conflict


Media, War & Conflict, Ahead of Print. In this article, we examine the representational practices of British newspapers in relation to forms of military injury. Using critical discourse analysis, we studied the reporting of injuries sustained by military personnel during the height of the UK’s war in Afghanistan in 2009 – and a comparison period five years later – and concluded that representations of injured personnel differed substantially between articles reporting on ‘combat’ and ‘non-combat’ injuries. We argue that the different reporting frames work to construct a moral separation of injuries into ‘heroic’ (combat) and ‘non-heroic’ (non-combat) forms. The consequences of this hierarchization of injury, we suggest, include the reification of ‘combat’ as an idealized form of masculine violence, the privileging of some soldiers and veterans over others as exemplars of national heroism, and elision of the day-to-day realities of military injury from public consciousness. Findings are discussed in relation to broader consequences for understanding heroism and the military.