"I saw what really happened": The discursive construction of victims and perpetrators in first-hand accounts of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland

GEOFFREY BEATTIE, Kathy Doherty

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20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this article, the authors demonstrate how discursive psychology may be applied to the analysis of eyewitness accounts ofparamilitary-related violence in North Belfast, Ireland. Eyewitnesses are in apowerful position to construct reality for others in their community, but such accounts can easily be dismissed as partisan characterisations of events. The authors therefore demonstrate some ofthe ways in which these accounts are made difficult to undermine, how they are rhetorically designed to undermine alternative versions of events, and how blamings and mitigations may be achieved through the construction of the social identities of the individuals in the events as blameless victims or as ruthless perpetrators. They further consider how it is made discursively possible for "blameless" victims to exist alongside "professional" hitmen through the construction of assailants as professional but also personally flawed, and this therefore compromises their claim to rational, political motivations for violence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408
Number of pages433
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Volume14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1995

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Northern Ireland
Violence
violence
Social Identification
event
Ireland
Motivation
Psychology
compromise
psychology
community
Discursive Construction
Paramilitaries
Perpetrators
Eyewitness

Cite this

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