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Title: Hounding the urban fox : a Critical Discourse Analysis of a moral panic with an animal folk devil
Author: Groling, Jessica Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 6060 4703
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2016
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In June 2010 an urban fox (Vulpes vulpes) attacked twin baby girls in their bedroom in Hackney, East London. The story made national newspaper headlines for weeks to follow and elicited commentary from concerned city-dwellers, pest controllers, foxhunters, politicians, scientists and animal protectionists. Many considered urban foxes a growing menace, branding them overabundant, out of place and more aggressive than their rural counterparts. Hunters pointed to the ban on hunting with dogs as a possible cause of a supposed explosion in the urban fox population and as a manifestation of urban ignorance regarding wildlife management. Others defended the foxes' place in the city and warned against knee-jerk reactions to one-off incidents. However, the response from many public and political figures to media reports of fox attacks was to call for urgent action on what is ostensibly a problem of animal behaviour. This thesis examines the urban fox attack phenomenon as a form of moral panic. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of a large sample of tabloid and broadsheet national newspaper articles, as well as a selection of television documentaries, pest control industry publications and lobby group materials spanning five years (2009–2014), is used to track the emergence and development of this moral panic and to examine how it is tied to anxieties surrounding not only human/animal relations in urban space, but also human social conflict more widely. In so doing, the thesis contributes a new perspective to the study of moral panics by reflecting on the implications for moral panic theory of ‘bringing animals in’.
Supervisor: Pleasants, Nigel ; Hurn, Samantha Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: urban fox ; moral panic ; critical discourse analysis