Representations of People with Disabilities in an Indonesian Newspaper: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Neng Priyanti


In a contemporary society where language plays a significant role in shaping social reality, discourse is not value-free. In other words, language can be used as a powerful tool to establish and maintain particular sets of ideas or ideologies. Values and beliefs, as many have argued (Corker & Shakespeare, 2002; Harpur, 2012; Rapley, 2004) are the products of social constructions and are shared, maintained and reproduced through discourse. Given the powerful function of language to establish and maintain ideologies, this paper examines how disability is socially constructed, represented and maintained through the media discourse, particularly in The Jakarta Post's articles published and circulated in January 2013 to April 2014. This paper opens with a brief historical, empirical and theoretical review of disability. It then continues with a discussion of the findings of the study and implications of the representation of people with disabilities in the mass media. This study has revealed that people with disabilities, in an Indonesia mass media discourse, are discursively constructed with a thematic role of a patient/beneficiary which is evident through the syntactic construction and the extensive use of ableist terminologies. This subtle representation indicates that the contemporary Indonesian media mass discourse maintains the medical and charity models of disability.


Critical discourse analysis; power-relation; disability; social construction

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