Cultural Models Shaping Stalking From a Content Analysis of Italian Newspapers


  • Andrea Caputo


The increasing spread of stalking in recent years has captured the community’s and media’s interest and highlighted complex legal, clinical and cultural issues. This phenomenon, far from being an individual problem, can be considered as a product of a growing culture that seems to reveal the crisis of current rules of social coexistence. This work aims at detecting the cultural repertoires that organise the stalking discourse, from an analysis of Italian newspaper articles, within a socio-constructivist paradigm. Emotional text analysis was conducted on a corpus of headlines and subheadings derived from 496 articles. These articles were published in major national newspapers and helped to identify four cultural repertoires (clusters) that characterise the social representation of stalking: gender violence and women’s social independence (Cluster 1), psychological violence and control as illusion of intimacy (Cluster 2), anomic violence and intolerant individualism (Cluster 3), domestic violence and women’s marital obligation (Cluster 4). These repertoires are conceived along three latent dimensions which respectively refer to the cultural functions of stalking (Factor 1), representations of the victim (Factor 2), and gender inequalities (Factor 3). The paper offers a key to a social contextualisation of stalking in Italy, in order to re-think work practices within institutional agencies that deal with this phenomenon.