published on September 8, 2017
Victims, Martyrs, Crusaders
Archetypal Figures in News Stories about Falun Gong
This research explores the characterisation of individuals and groups in Falun Gong news stories through a lens of archetype analysis. Longitudinal data was used to reveal changes to people’s identities. Practitioners are depicted primarily as victims and martyrs and secondarily as crusaders, warriors, and avengers. However, the 2006 allegations of organ harvesting mark a turning point in the narrative where members’ identities are infantalised. While the depictions benefit Western advocates and a minority of zealous practitioners, everyday practitioners do not benefit. They are cast in the role of helpless, wounded, constantly embattled, crusading and avenging victims who have to be rescued by the superior Western world. To transform the narrative, protagonists could bring forward another archetype—one that does not depend on dualisms of good and evil or superiority and inferiority.