The Narrative Framework of Sex Abuse Scandals

By: Anneke Meyer  

This paper offers a comparative analysis of two major sex abuse scandals of recent times – the British Coronation Street scandal in 2014 and the international Harvey Weinstein scandal in 2017 – to investigate the relative powers of mass vs. social media in the formation of dominant discourses and narrative frameworks. The two scandals share a number of significant features which make them comparable – e.g. enormous publicity, rape allegations, multiple victims making allegations, allegations spanning several years, the media industry setting, celebrity involvement – but the outcomes were very different; as the Coronation Street scandal ended in public victim-blaming, the Weinstein scandal sparked off the #MeToo campaign and set in motion a cultural shift towards victim-believing. This paper traces the mass and social media histories of these two scandals; analysing newspaper coverage, celebrity Twitter accounts and hashtag campaigns, this paper reveals a complex, enmeshed media landscape in which narrative changes (Gamson 2001), winning discourses, and the very activation of scandals (Greer and McLaughlin 2013) are far from inevitable and contingent upon a range of interacting factors.

Sex abuse scandals; Media power; Digital; Cultural Representations; Discourse; Narrative
Media Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Anneke Meyer

Principal Lecturer in Sociology, Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University

I am a principal lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University (UK). My research fields include media, power, reprsentation, culture, gender, and sexual violence. I have written two academic books - 'The Child at Risk' (2007) and 'Gender and Popular Culture' (2011) - and published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. My current research interest is particularly foucsed on the role of the social media in the formation of dominant cultural discourses and the way in which digital culture has complicated (undermined?) key sociological and cultural concepts theorising media power. I am currently writing and editing the four-volume compendium 'Routledge Major Works: Gender and Popular Culture' with my colleague Dr Katie Milestone.