Arms, Aviation, and Apologies: mapping the Boeing social media response to the 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crash

Jester, Natalie ORCID: 0000-0002-7995-3028 and Dolan, Emma (2024) Arms, Aviation, and Apologies: mapping the Boeing social media response to the 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crash. Critical Studies on Security, 12 (1). pp. 2-17. doi:10.1080/21624887.2023.2267328

[img] Text
13240 Jester, Dolan (2023) Arms, aviation and apologies - mapping the Boeing social media response to the 2019 Ethopian Airlines crash.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 31 June 2025. (Publisher Embargo).
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.

Download (318kB)


Boeing is famous for aviation but also produces arms, making $29.2billion from the latter in 2018. The role of the arms trade in facilitating death can be considered a “public secret” - that which is known, but socially unacknowledged. This allows Boeing to represent its role as one of “neutral” technological advancement, obscuring the violence engendered by certain products. This paper builds on works on public secrecy, which investigate how (lack of) acknowledgement obscures everyday security arrangements. How can we know the public secret? We argue that public apology and scandal function as boundary-delineating practices, locating certain issues within the public secret and rendering others knowable and sayable. We examine Boeing’s Twitter response to the March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crash. The content: 1) produced the crash as a tragedy, positioning Boeing as “sorry” and capable of grief, 2) allowed Boeing to “take responsibility”, positioning safe operation of their products as a moral obligation. Within the wider political context of the arms trade on the one hand and responsibility for safety in commercial aviation on the other, we position Boeing’s Twitter navigation of apology/scandal not as simply corporate face-saving, but as a practice of (re)confirming the public secret, positioning aviation deaths as knowable and grievable, and those lost to the arms industry as neither.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Society and Learning
Depositing User: Nat Jester
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2023 12:11
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2024 15:45

University Staff: Request a correction | Repository Editors: Update this record

University Of Gloucestershire

Bookmark and Share

Find Us On Social Media:

Social Media Icons Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube Pinterest Linkedin

Other University Web Sites

University of Gloucestershire, The Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 2RH. Telephone +44 (0)844 8010001.