"Fox tots attack shock": Urban foxes, mass media and boundary-breaching
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version of the article is available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
On June 7, 2010, UK media outlets reported that 9-month-old twins living in East London had been rushed to hospital following a "suspected fox attack": the babies had been seriously injured. This story received sustained coverage for several months, and became the focus of debate over the behavior of urban foxes, and how they and humans should coexist. Using textual analysis to unravel the various discourses surrounding this moment, this paper discusses how the incident became such a prominent "media event." Alongside the contexts of the "silly season" and a period of political transition, we argue that this incident breached a series of spatial boundaries that many societies draw between people and the "natural world," from the "safest space" of a child's cot, to the categorizations made about animals themselves. We discuss the consequences of such boundary breaches, pointing to a deep confusion over the assignment of responsibility for, and expertise about, the figure of the "urban fox." © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
The authors would like to thank members of the ‘Popular Culture and Environmental Politics’ workshop at the Nordic Environmental Social Science Conference 2011 for helpful discussions of an earlier draft of this paper; and the referees for their comments. One author (Cassidy) acknowledges the support of an Interdisciplinary Early Career Fellowship from the UK Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (ESRC grant no. RES-229-27-0007-A).
Vol. 6, no.4, pp. 494-511