Construction of meaning in discourses of death in Latvian society

Ilva Skulte, Normunds Kozlovs

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Death is often conceived as natural and material, and expressing essential relationships between (conscious) human being and his/her body. However, the meaning of death is constructed in the discourse that is based on relationships in any area of the social. The discourse of death can be described as a process of sense-making, as enculturation and / or domestication of death where death is becoming articulated in a contingent way. (Carpentier, Van Brussel, 2012). In our paper we would like to analyse the construction of meaning of death in the discourses of contemporary Latvian society in areas as different as subcultural street art of stencils, parliamentary debates and media during COVID-19 pandemic. Our objective is to provide insight on differences and similarities in three types of discourse trying to find out basic meaning(s) of death and attitudes toward death it provokes. Carpentier, N, Van Brussel, L. On the contingency of death: a discourse-theoretical perspective on the construction of death. Critical Discourse Studies 9.2 (2012): 99-115. Materials include collection street stencils of Riga, selection of expressions containing (all forms of) the words “death” and “die” from parliamentary corpus of Latvian Saeima and selection of articles of Latvian internet news portals from March to December, 2020. The method of analysis is discourse analysis (including multimodal discourse analysis for stencil analysis). Results are driven separately from all three materials of analysis and compared. Preliminary conclusions show that death is understood in a material way as a biological cease or (ex)termination of life, but also as the end (of everything). The notion of death often appears in metaphorical sense as well as in phraseological units. The texts analysed (especially, in stencils and parliamentary corpus) often refer to collective death (mankind, nature, nation). The texts in media are rather tended to hold to rationalistic discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021
EventRSU Research week 2021: Society. Health. Welfare - Rīga, Latvia
Duration: 24 Mar 202126 Mar 2021
Conference number: 8


ConferenceRSU Research week 2021: Society. Health. Welfare
Internet address

Field of Science*

  • 6.3 Philosophy, Ethics and Religion

Publication Type*

  • 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)


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