Tragic heroes, moral guides and activists: Representations of maternal grief, child death and tragedy in Australian newspapers

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Journal Article
Health Sociology Review, 2012, 21 (4), pp. 432 - 440
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Newspapers are a highly infl uential media that refl ect and powerfully infl uence the views and cultural practices of individuals and societies. Study of phenomena using the media as a lens can provide new insights and understandings into how a phenomenon is culturally constructed and understood. This current study sought to explore media coverage of maternal grief following child death and loss. Articles published in major Australian newspapers over three months were gathered and analysed using a thematic approach. Findings showed that the tragic mother, a noble victim of suffering, is a powerful maternal image in the media. There were two key ways women as mothers were represented in their grief: as tragic heroes, and; as moral guides and activists. Using an interdisciplinary approach that references classical and modern interpretations of tragedy, this study interrogates how our culture imbues child death with dignity because of the quality of maternal grief. © eContent Management Pty Ltd.
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