Carolina Pérez-Arredondo e-mail(Login required)

Main Article Content


Carolina Pérez-Arredondo e-mail(Login required)


The student movement has always been at the centre of political change in Chile, which has resulted in tensions with the heavily monopolized media. These tensions have forced the student movement to resort to more alternative media outlets to both disseminate their information and to challenge the criminalization of their movement. In this context, this article sets to explore the attributions of motive in the representation of the Chilean student movement during a three-year period (2011-2013) in the mainstream and alternative press. Throughout this article, motive is understood as the implicit and/or explicit manifestation of an individual and/or collective’s drive or wish to do (or not do) something in a particular context. The corpus comprises over 3,000 news articles, which were analysed in the light of Harré’s (2010, 2015) Social Actor Positioning and van Leeuwen’s (2000, 2008) legitimation and purpose frameworks. Results show the use of specific ideological narratives that legitimize these actors’ motives in the media representation of this conflict. Similarly, the attribution of motives depends on the actors’ role in society and the kind of press analysed. Finally, there are irreconcilable ideological differences in the government’s understanding of the students’ right and duties and vice versa, which are heavily grounded in the aftermath of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.


Motive, Positioning theory, Chilean student movement, Mainstream press, Alternative press, Media representation, Narrative accounts


Achugar, M. (2016). Discursive Processes of Intergenerational Transmission of Recent History: (Re)making Our Past. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Austin, J. L. (2011). How to do things with words. In D. Archer & P. Grundy (Eds.), The Pragmatics reader (pp. 19-26). London: Routledge.

Burke, K. (1935). Permanence and change: An anatomy of purpose. New York: New Republic, Inc.

Burke, K. (1969). A grammar of motives. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Buttny, R. & Morris, G. H. (2001). Accounting. In P. Robinson & H. Giles (Eds.), The New Handbook of Language and Social Psychology (pp. 285-301). West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Buttny, R. (2008). Accounting Research. In W. Donsbach (Ed.), The International Encyclopaedia of Communication (pp. 20-21). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Cohen, S. (2011). Folk devils and moral panics: The creation of the Mods and Rockers. London: Routledge.

De Fina, A. (2009). Narratives in interview – the case of accounts. Narrative Inquiry, 19(2), 233- 258.

Edwards, D. & Potter, J. (1992). Discursive Psychology. London: SAGE Publications.

Edwards, D. & Potter, J. (1993). Language and Causation: A Discursive Action Model of Description and Attribution. Psychological Review, 100(1), 23-41.

Edwards, D. (2008). Intentionality and mens rea in police interrogations: The production of actions as crimes. Intercultural Pragmatics, 5(2), 177-199.

García, A. (2013). Construing experience in Spanish: Revisiting a Systemic Functional Description of Spanish Nuclear Transitivity. Revista Signos, 46(81), 29–55.

Gumucio-Dagron, A. (2012). Comunicación para el cambio social: clave del desarrollo participativo. Signo y Pensamiento, 30(58), 26–39. Retrieved from

Harlow, S. & Harp, D. (2013). Alternative media in a digital era: Comparing news and information use among activists in the United States and Latin America. Communication & Society, 26(4), 25–51. Retrieved from

Harlow, S. & Johnson, T. J. (2011). Overthrowing the Protest Paradigm? How The New York Times, Global Voices and Twitter covered the Egyptian Revolution. International Journal of Communication, 5, 1359–1374. Retrieved from

Harré, R. (2010). Positioning as a Metagrammar for Discursive Story Lines. In D. Schiffrin, A. De Fina & A. Nylund (Eds.), Telling Stories: Language, Narrative, and Social Life (pp. 51-55). Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.

Harré, R. (2015). Positioning Theory. In K. Tracy, T. Sandel & C. Ilie (Eds.), The International Encyclopaedia of Language and Social Interaction.

Harré, R., Moghaddam, F. M., Pilkerton Cairnie, T., Rothbart, D. & Sabat, S. (2009). Recent Advances in Positioning Theory. Theory & Psychology, 19(1), 5-31.

Harré, R. & Slocum, N. (2003). Disputes as complex social events: On the uses of positioning theory. Common Knowledge, 9(1), 110-118.

Housley, W. & Fitzgerald, R. (2003). Moral discrepancy and political discourse: Accountability and the allocation of blame in a political news interview. Sociological Research Online, 8(2), 1-9.

Kennis, A. (2016). An unworthy social movement? An evaluation of the media dependence model and the news media performance of New York Times on Vieques. Communication, Culture & Critique, 9, 438–457.

Lavid, J., Arús, J. & Zamorano-Mansilla, J. R. (2010). Systemic Functional Grammar of Spanish: A contrastive study with English. London: Continuum.

Lugo-Ocando, J. (2008). Media in Latin America. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Marin, F. (2014). Las batallas por la Alameda: Arteria del Chile demoliberal. Santiago: Ceibo.

McEnery, A., Xiao, R. & Tono, Y. (2006). Corpus-based language studies: an advanced resource book. London: Routledge.

McLeod, D. (2007). News Coverage and Social Protest: How the Media’s Protest Paradigm Exacerbates Social Conflict. Journal of Dispute Resolution, 1, 185–194. Retrieved from

Moghaddam, F. M., Harré, R. & Lee N. (Eds.) (2008). Global conflict resolution through positioning analysis. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Monckeberg, M. O. (2008). Los magnates de la prensa: Concentración de los medios de Comunicación en Chile. Santiago: Debate.

Morison, T. & Macleod, C. (2014). When veiled silences speak: reflexivity, trouble and repair as methodological tools for interpreting the unspoken in discourse-based data. Qualitative Research, 14(6), 694–711.

Myers, G. & Macnaghten, P. (1998). Rhetorics of environmental sustainability: commonplaces and places. Environment and Planning, 30, 333-353.

Pérez, C. (2012). The Chilean student movement and the media: A comparative analysis on the linguistic representation of the 04 August, 2011 manifestation in right-wing and leftwing newspapers. Logos: Revista de Lingüística, Filosofía y Literatura, 22(2), 4-26. Retrieved from

Pérez, C. (2016). La representación visual del movimiento estudiantil chileno en la prensa establecida y alternativa nacional: Un análisis multimodal. Revista Austral de Ciencias Sociales 30, 5–26. Retrieved from

Pérez, C. (2018). The discursive construction and attributions of motive in relation to the Chilean student movement (2011-2013) in the national news genre (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Lancaster University, Lancaster, England.

Pérez, C. & Cárdenas, C. (2018). The Hooded Student as a Metaphor: Multimodal Recontextualizations of the Chilean Student Movement in a Broadcast News Report. In E. Esposito, C. Pérez-Arredondo & J. M. Ferreiro (Eds.), Discourses from Latin America and the Caribbean: Current Concepts and Challenges (pp. 107–138). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Pérez, C. & Cárdenas, C. (2019). Space and legitimation: The multimodal representation of public space in news broadcast reports on hooded rioters. Discourse & Communication, 13(3), 279-302.

Reisigl, M. & Wodak, R. (2001). Discourse and discrimination: Rhetorics of racism and antisemitism. London: Routledge.

Ross, D. G. (2013). Common topics and commonplaces of environmental rhetoric. Written Communication, 30(1), 91-131.

Sacks, H. (1972a). An initial investigation of the usability of conversational data for doing Sociology. In D. N. Sudnow (Ed.), Studies in social interaction (pp. 31–74). New York: Free Press.

Sacks, H. (1972b). On the analyzability of stories by children. In J. J. Gumperz & D. Hymes (Eds.), Directions in Sociolinguistics: The ethnography of communication (pp. 325–345). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Sapiezynska, E. (2014). Los no aparecidos: La protesta social invisible en los grandes medios en Chile y las políticas mediáticas del disenso. Comunicación y Medios, 29, 156–170.

Searle, J. R. (1969). Speech acts. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Seguin, C. (2016). Cascades of coverage: Dynamics of media attention to social movement organizations. Social Forces, 94, 997–1020.

Shoemaker, P. J., Vos, T. P. & Reese, S. D. (2009). Journalists as gatekeepers. In K. Wahl- Jorgensen & T. Hanitzsch (Eds.), The Handbook of Journalism Studies (pp. 93-107). London: Routledge.

Sierra Caballero, F. & Gravante, T. (2016). Ciudadanía digital y acción colectiva en América Latina. Crítica de la mediación y apropiación social por los nuevos movimientos sociales. La Trama de la Comunicación, 20(1), 163–175. Retrieved from

Slocum, N. & van Langenhove, L. (2003). Integration Speak: Introducing Positioning Theory in Regional Integration Studies. In R. Harré & F. Moghaddam (Eds), The self and others: Positioning individuals and groups in personal, political, and cultural contexts (pp. 219–234). Westport, CT: Praeger.

Stokoe, E. (2010). ‘I’m not gonna hit a lady’: Conversation analysis, membership categorization and men’s denials of violence towards women. Discourse & Society, 21(1), 59–82. https:/

Stokoe, E. (2012). Moving forward with membership categorization analysis: Methods for systematic analysis. Discourse Studies, 14(3), 277–303.

Stokoe, E. & Edwards, D. (2008). ‘Did you have permission to smash your neighbour’s door?’ Silly questions and their answers in police-suspect interrogations. Discourse Studies, 10(1), 89–111.

Thomas, J. (1995). Meaning in interaction: An introduction to Pragmatics. London: Longman.

Valida (2018). Boletín de circulación y lectura diarios: Primer semestre 2018. Valida Chile. Retrieved from

Van Dijk, T. (1988). News analysis: Case studies of international and national news in the press. London: Routledge.

Van Dijk, T. (1991). Racism and the press. London: Routledge.

Van Leeuwen, T. (2000). The Construction of Purpose in Discourse. In S. Sarangi & M. Coulthard (Eds.), Discourse and Social Life (pp. 62-82). London: Longman.

Van Leeuwen, T. (2008). Discourse and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Weber, M. (1947). The theory of social and economic organization. London: Collier-MacMillan Ltd.

Wodak, R. (2015). The politics of fear: What right-wing populist discourses mean. London: Sage.


Search GoogleScholar


Article Details

Special Issue: Articles: Activism, Communication and Social Change in the Digital Age