Denying racism: Discursive strategies used by the south african media

Kevin Durrheim, Michael Quayle, Kevin Whitehead, Anita Kriel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


In 1999 the South African media was the subject of a South African Human Rights Commission inquiry into racism. This article explores the discursive practices deployed by mainstream newspapers in response to these accusations of racism. It shows how several interlocking strategies of denial were used to remodel the field of racist practices and representations into a terrain suited to preserving white privilege. Specifically, the media used strategies of splitting, (dis)locating, relativising, trivialising, de-racialising and, ultimately, reversing racism. By constructing the terrain of racism in this way, the South African media were able to sidestep criticism by developing ‘acceptable’ arguments for reasonable prejudice that marginalise black experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-186
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Arts
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Denial
  • Discourse
  • News media
  • Racism
  • Rhetoric
  • South africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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