New Social Norms of the Pandemic Period: Specifics of Construction in the Russian Media Discourse

Evgeny V. Kablukov

PhD in Philology, Associate Professor at the Chair of Russian Language and Stylistics, Faculty of Journalism, Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia

e-mail: evgeny.kablukov@urfu.ru

Section: Modern Journalism: Subjects and Issues

The article is devoted to the analysis of modern Russian media discourse, which is critical in establishing new social norms during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as wearing protective masks, maintaining social distance, vaccination, and others. The aim of the study is to examine two opposing groups of discursive practices: promoting and preventing the approval of these norms. The research methodology is based on the principles of critical discourse analysis as interpreted by E.V. Chepkina. The material is the texts of Russian media for 2020–2021 indexed by the Yandex search engine and constructing the listed social norms. It is shown that the approval of new social norms during the COVID-19 pandemic is carried out through the following discursive practices: firstly, argumentation, including logical, factual, and psychological reasons (the last point acquires special relevance because medical topics involve appeals to experts’ opinions and the establishment of sanctions for violation of the relevant norms activates the use of threat arguments); secondly, the inclusion of the COVID-19 pandemic into the chronological order of discourse by constructing epidemics of the past, the overcoming of which was associated with the establishment of similar social norms (as a result, the current pandemic reality is perceived as something ordinary); and thirdly, a constant mention of new norms in media texts regardless of their topic, which demonstrates, on the one hand, the importance of the relevant norms, and on the other, their routine and legitimate nature. At the same time, the Russian media discourse involves discursive practices that prevent the adoption of new behavioral models declared by the media as normative: 1) an inclusion in the agenda of events related to criticism of new social norms and demonstration of their non-observance; 2) the use of headlines containing sensational information that contradicts the content of the text and legitimizes the anti-norm; 3) a construction of discourse characters who declare the new norms but do not set an example of complying with them.

Keywords: discourse, media discourse, discursive practice, social norm, pandemic, coronavirus, COVID-19
DOI: 10.30547/vestnik.journ.1.2022.2645

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