‘No ordinary crowd’: Foregrounding a ‘hooligan schema’ in the construction of witness narratives following the Hillsborough football stadium disaster

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This article examines the linguistic appropriation and deflection of blame in the witness testimonies and evidence-gathering processes of the South Yorkshire Police (SYP) following the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster. It specifically focuses on patterns of stylistic features, such as negation and syntactic foregrounding, which, it is argued, function to encode alternative institutionally congruent stories. It employs schema theory to explore how a ‘hooligan’ narrative was readily invoked and accepted by the SYP. Moreover, it addresses instances of both self-incrimination and the upgrading of police efficacy within statements produced by the South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service (SYMAS), and offers a linguistic analysis that points to police involvement in the construction of the SYMAS testimonies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-255
JournalDiscourse and Society
Issue number3
Early online date17 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes

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