A1 Journal article (refereed)
‘Our words are stronger’ : re-enforcing boundaries through ritual work in a terrorist news event (2020)

Sumiala, J., & Räisä, T. (2020). ‘Our words are stronger’ : re-enforcing boundaries through ritual work in a terrorist news event. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 23(3), 422-438. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367877919895992

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Sumiala, Johanna; Räisä, Tiina

Journal or series: International Journal of Cultural Studies

ISSN: 1367-8779

eISSN: 1460-356X

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 23

Issue number: 3

Pages range: 422-438

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1367877919895992

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/74569


This article investigates the ritual work in terrorist news events, using the Berlin truck attack as a case in point. The article connects with the larger cluster of anthropologically inspired communication research on media events as public rituals in news media and applies digital media ethnography as its method. Fieldwork is conducted in 15 online news sites. The article identifies three key phases through which the ritual work was carried out: the rupture in the news event (ritualised as the strike), the liminal phase (ritualised as the manhunt) and the reconstitution of order following the attack (ritualised as the mourning). The article concludes with an interpretation of the broader social implications of the ritual work and related naturalisation of ‘friends’ and ‘foes’ and suggests that this type of ritual work contributes to a collective mythologisation of terrorism in news media and society at large.

Keywords: mass media; media anthropology; media; news; terror attacks; terrorism

Free keywords: Berlin truck attack; digital media ethnography; media anthropology; media event; online news; othering; ritual work; terror

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2021-07-07 at 21:32