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‘Killers’ and ‘Friendlies’: Names can hurt me

McHoul, A. (2007) ‘Killers’ and ‘Friendlies’: Names can hurt me. Social Identities, 13 (4). pp. 459-469.

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This paper concerns an incident in 2003 when two American fighter pilots mistakenly fired on a ‘friendly’ British convoy and on the reportage of that incident in the British press some four years later. It starts with a focus on the designation of the airmen as ‘killer pilots’ (by The Sun newspaper which broke the story), using some concepts from membership categorisation analysis as developed by Harvey Sacks. It is contended that such an approach can afford insights into the nature of quite specific social identities. Hence the paper goes on (via the transcript of the air-to-ground tape) to contrast how the press ascribes identities to the pilots with how they avow identities for themselves. This contrast, I argue, gives us some insights into the moral culpability or otherwise of the ‘killer pilots’.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Copyright: 2007 Taylor & Francis
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