Recollections of September 11 in three English villages: identifications and self-narrations

Matthew Adams, P.J. Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the responses of adults of white ethnicity in three English villages to media coverage of the attacks of 11 September 2001. We analyse how news narratives set up particular kinds of identification with which audiences engage and/or disengage. We highlight the emotional, ambivalent and contradictory nature of identifications and dis-identifications which respondents make with the victims and perpetrators of the attacks. We explore their notions, expressed explicitly and implicitly, about Englishness, normality and niceness, perceptions of Islam and Muslims, and the joint American and British military action. Their accounts are shaped by, and form part of, ongoing negotiations of identity and subjectivity that are triggered by media consumption: they constitute forms of 'self narration'. In particular we examine the intertwining of emotional responses and modes of reasoning, discourses of ordinariness as a means of encompassing 'others' and questions of audience agency in relation to the regulation of social conduct. We argue that the strong perception among our informants that the British media and the Labour government are tightly constrained by discourses of political correctness is also reflected in their own accounts. We found a great deal of nervousness about what it is possible to say, and fear about openly expressing blatantly racist views. Thus what is not said--absences and pregnant pauses in their utterances--requires inferential analysis if we are to glean a fuller picture of our respondents' reactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983-1003
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2006


  • Emotion
  • Discourse
  • Identifications
  • Media Narratives
  • Political Correctness
  • Regulation of Social Conduct
  • Audience Agency
  • September 11


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