J. Peter Burgess
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22 July 2011
Event, meaning and affect
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This chapter analyses the hour-by-hour reactions to the attacks of 22 July 2011. Focussing primarily on television news coverage, it documents, puts into context then examines the events through the eyes of political and social leaders who dominate the public discourse. The chapter also analyses the way that news media interpreted what the public reactions were, how they should be interpreted in context and what the more general politial impact of these experiences might be. It begins with coverage of the very first hours after the attack when confusion and uncertainty reigned. It continues with an analysis of the first official press conference by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice. The chapter then develops a larger reflection on the role of values in shaping what the facts of the event were understood to be, and reflects on the political nature of any analysis of the threat or danger, and the role that values play in shaping politics. The chapter then turns to the rise and fall of the collective spirit in the Norwegian self-understanding and the role played by the royal family in maintaining that spirit. It concludes with an analysis of the famous Rose March, a unique enactment of solidarity that structured the threats realised on 22 July as threats to the national ‘we’.

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