Death becomes her. Journalistic portrayals of murdered women and their bodies as subject, object and abject in Swedish high profile murder cases

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för mediestudier

Abstract: This thesis concerns how murdered women and their bodies are represented through written and visual language in tabloid crime journalism. Two Swedish high profile murders were chosen through a purposeful sampling, and 436 articles from Sweden's two largest tabloid newspapers, Aftonbladet and Expressen, were thematized through Thematic Analysis. After that, a smaller sample was analyzed in depth through Critical Discourse Analysis and Multimodal Visual Analysis. The results show that murdered women and their bodies are represented as both subjects, objects and abject. However, when constructed as a social subject through personal traits and agency, the personalities of the murdered women were also used to establish a normative objectification of how women ought and ought not to behave. Furthermore, the material body as an object was visually absent from the material but made visible through detailed and repetitive descriptions of violence and interdiscursive connections to popular culture. Consequently, the abject body produced fear within society, but also provided an arena for a shared identity and the restoration of social order, through extensive portrayals of public grief and thorough media coverage of the legal process.             These results contribute both new knowledge and the suggestion of a suitable theoretical framework for further academic research. Hopefully, these findings will also result in an academic, as well as a professional, discussion regarding the current mediated discourse within crime journalism.

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