Linguistic violence in contemporary Russian public discourses

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While discourses of violence and discrimination have been given substantial scholarly attention, the specific discursive forms, in which a society deals with linguistic violence at a public level have been insufficiently questioned. Discussing a case study of the introduction in Russia of a law on protection of minors from ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’, the article focuses on cross-discursive flows in which the negotiation of linguistic violence takes place, as various groups of society respond to the initial hegemonic trigger. Its multimethodological approach combines Gay’s proposition that violence is subjective residing in receptive and interpretative structures, Butler’s view of violence as performative, and the discourse-analytical perspective. Discursive flows of interpretations of violence are mapped across the following fields of action: the hegemonic media, the global field, the hegemonic grassroots supporters, the governing field and the grassroots oppositional field. The article concludes that while discourses of counter-violence contained within the symbolic field, the hegemonic grassroots supporters resignified the original trigger as permission for physical attacks and murder. In other instances, as they perform the resignification of the violent code, discourses both in the hegemonic and the oppositional fields assume similar strategies and interpretative repertoires including citation, magnification and humour. It seems though that the society in which stigmatisation and repression increasingly becomes the norm, linguistic counter-violence while performing the role of a quasi-liberating gesture, fails to achieve a relief of a resolution, instead multiplying violence and aggression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalZeitschrift für Slawistik
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2016


  • Russian language
  • Russian sociolingusitics
  • violence
  • Discourse Analysis
  • anti-gay law
  • hate language


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