Constructing the myth of protest masculinity in Chinese English language news media
a critical discourse analysis of the representation of ‘leftover men’
Keywords:leftover men, protest masculinity, media representations, critical discourse analysis
Although the Chinese media’s construction of unmarried citizens as ‘leftover’ has incited much controversy, little research attention has been given to the ways ‘leftover men’ are represented in discourse. To fill this gap, this study performs a critical discourse analysis of 65 English language news reports in Chinese media to investigate the predominant gendered discourses underlying representations of leftover men and the discursive strategies used to construct their identities. The findings show that the media perpetuate a myth of ‘protest masculinity’ by suggesting that poor, single men may become a threat to social harmony due to the shortage of marriageable women in China. Leftover men are represented as poor men, troublemakers and victims via discursive processes that include referential, predicational and aggregation strategies as well as metaphor. This study sheds light on the issues and concerns of a marginalised group whose predicament has not been given much attention in the literature.
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