The Representation of Muslims in the Media

Comparing the Priming and Framing of Muslims in Newspaper Coverage in the Aftermath of Terrorist Attacks


Master's Thesis, 2015

69 Pages, Grade: distinction (74)


Excerpt

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Acknowledgement

Abstract

List of Tables and Figures

Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Introduction
1.1.2 Purpose of the Study and Research Question
1.1.3 Rationale behind the Study
1.1.4 Background Information
1.1.5 A Stereotyped Image of Muslims?
1.1.6 Conceptual definition of Muslim(s)
1.2 Literature Review
1.2.1 Islamophobia
1.2.2 Media Representation of Muslims
1.2.3 Gap in the Literature
1.3 Sequence of the Study

Chapter 2: Theoretical Framework and the Media
2.1 Introduction
2.1.1 Priming and Agenda Setting Theory
2.1.2 High Priming Level of Muslims
2.2 Framing Theory
2.3 Utilization of the Social Theories
2.4 Conclusion

Chapter 3: Methodology
3.1 Introducing CDA
3.1.1 Rationale behind CDA
3.2 Data Collection
3.2.1 Selection of Terrorist Attacks
3.2.2 Rationale behind Newspapers
3.2.3 Selection of Newspapers
3.2.4 Unit of Analysis
3.2.5 Categorization and Coding of the Data
3.2.6 Time frame
3.3 CDA execution
3.4 Conclusion

Chapter 4: Priming of Muslims in Dutch and British Newspapers
4.1 Priming Triggers Stereotyped Images
4.2 Priming Implications for Dutch Newspapers
4.2.1 Priming Analysis of Muslims in Dutch Newspapers
4.3 Priming Implications for British newspapers
4.3.1 Priming Analysis of Muslims in Dutch Newspapers
4.4 Cross-National Conclusion

Chapter 5: Framing of Muslims in Dutch Newspapers
5.1 Stereotyping in Dutch Newspapers?
5.2 Domestic Attack Theo van Gogh
5.2.1 Article Selection
5.2.2 Priming of Muslims
5.2.3 Stereotyped Frames
5.2.4 Stereotyped Frames Dominant?
5.2.5 Differences or Similarities
5.2.6 Stereotypes in Non-Muslim Articles
5.3 7/7 and Charlie Hebdo Attacks
5.3.1 Article Selection
5.3.2 Priming of Muslims
5.3.3 Stereotyped Frames
5.3.4 Stereotyped Frames Dominant?
5.3.5 Differences or Similarities
5.3.6 Stereotypes in non-Muslim Articles
5.4 National Comparison and Conclusions

Chapter 6: Framing of Muslims in UK Newspapers
6.1 Domestic 7/7 Attacks
6.1.1 Article selection
6.1.2 Priming of Muslims
6.1.3 Stereotyped Frames
6.1.4 Stereotyped Frames Dominant?
6.1.5 Differences or Similarities
6.1.6 Stereotypes in Non-Muslim Articles
6.2 Van Gogh and Charlie Hebdo
6.2.1 Article Selection
6.2.2 Priming of Muslims
6.2.3 Stereotyped Frames
6.2.3 Stereotyped Frames Dominant?
6.2.4 Differences or Similarities
6.2.5 Stereotypes in Non-Muslim Articles
6.3 National Comparison
6.4 Cross National Comparison and Conclusion

Conclusion

Limitations

Dutch and British Context

Stereotyped Framing

Bibliography

List of Tables and Figures

Figure 1 Independent vs dependent variable

Figure 2 Selection of terrorist attacks

Figure 3 Newspaper selection Netherlands

Figure 4 Newspaper selection UK

Figure 5 Categorization of the data

Figure 6 Monitoring period of the terrorist attacks

Figure 7 Priming results Dutch newspapers

Figure 8 Priming results British newspapers

Figure 9 Framing results Netherlands

Figure 10 Framing results UK

Acknowledgement

The present study would have been more difficult without the assistance of my supervisor. At this point, it is an inspiration to express my gratitude to Dr. Andrew Mumford who has offered me: a guiding hand, critical constructive feedback, enthusiasm, and also stimulated me to aim for the highest of standards for my academic work. His much appreciated support and expertise helped me throughout the writing of this dissertation.

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to linguistically examine the creation of a stereotyped image of Muslims through priming and framing in the media. Hence, this study explores if a stereotyped image of Muslims is identified in Dutch and British mainstream newspapers –De Volkskrant, Trouw, NRC, De Telegraaf, The Guardian, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph and the Sun– in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Theo van Gogh in 2004, the 7/7 attacks in 2005 and the Charlie Hebdo attack 2015. The analysis of language in the newspapers is conducted from a Critical Discourse Analysis perspective and is done for both countries separately. The analysis of Dutch newspapers provides more evidence of stereotyped frames compared to the UK but there is not enough evidence to claim that any of the eight newspapers create a stereotyped image of Muslims in the aftermath of the studied terrorist attacks.

Chapter 1: Introduction

The first chapter will offer an overview of the research and states the main aim of the study. Additionally, background information will be provided together with the literature review and an explanation of the main concept.

1.1 Introduction

The media is a significant social agent setting the news agenda by putting emphasize on specific issues while having the potential to control the mind of the readers to some extent while it cannot control readers’ actions (van Dijk 2006: 359). Moreover, the media can problematize, marginalize, exclude or stereotype social groups. This is often done by writing or speaking negatively about other social groups through text or talk (van Dijk in Messer et. al 2012: 15; van Dijk 2000: 34; van Dijk 1995: 11). From this perspective, this study explores if a stereotyped image of Muslims is created in Dutch and British mainstream newspapers –De Volkskrant, Trouw, NRC, De Telegraaf, The Guardian, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph and the Sun– in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004, the 7/7 attacks in London 2005 and the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris 2015.

In this way, this study is primarily occupied with; (1) if a stereotyped image of Muslims is created through language; (2) the agenda setting of Muslims; (3) the language used by journalists to describe Muslims in response to terrorist attacks at home or abroad.

From the above established media perspective, it has been argued that journalists are subjective actors belonging to the power elite. This group has the power to manipulate information and to construct or reconstruct social realities by creating a context in which social matters or groups are classified in a certain way (Robinson 2007: 307). Together with journalists, the power elite encapsulates elite groups like prominent politicians, managers, scholars, or other professionals who have more or less controlled access to many different forms of discourses such as meetings, reports, press conferences, articles or press releases. This access is especially true with regards to media discourse (Van Dijk 1993: 12). Consequently, it has been echoed that journalists know their audiences very well and accordingly provide them with news in a particular type of language (van der Haak et. al 2012: 9). In this way, reporters and journalists have a strong and important role in tackling stereotypes about ethnicity and religion by writing or speaking in a professional way while providing an informed and factual opinion that allows the readers to make up their own mind and seek further information (Rupar 2012: 20). On the contrary, journalists can also shape reality through inclusion and exclusion of information (Entman 1993: 52). This has reportedly attributed to a negative attitude of the West against Muslims which is undeserved and not based on solid factual arguments provided by journalists (Shadid and van Koningsveld 2002: 174).

Following this logic, priming, as the concept focussing on the emphasis that mass media place on certain issues, and therefore regarded as an extension of the agenda setting theory, plus the framing theory, asserting that reality can be shaped through inclusion and exclusion of information, will be used as a theoretical framework in this study. Accordingly, van Dijk’s (1993) critical discourse analysis (CDA) will be employed as the methodological approach to linguistically examine if a stereotyped image of Muslims is created after the selected terrorist attacks. However, it is first necessary to establish the research question as a guideline throughout this study.

1.1.2 Purpose of the Study and Research Question

While investigating if a stereotyped image of Muslims is created in Dutch and British newspapers, the main impetus of this study is to acquire an understanding of the way in which newspapers and their reporters portray Muslims towards their target audience and how they do so in response to terrorist attacks either at home or abroad. Subsequently, the following research question has been established as a framework for this study:

- Do newspapers in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom create a stereotyped image of Muslims in the aftermath of the van Gogh, 7/7 and Charlie Hebdo attack(s)?

Additionally, the main question also encapsulates two sub-questions:

- Are there similarities between Dutch and British newspaper coverage in the aftermath of these terrorist attacks at home or abroad? If not, what are the differences?
- If a stereotyped image of Muslims is created, how does this relate to the agenda setting/priming of Muslims?

1.1.3 Rationale behind the Study

The rationale for this study is framed within the larger framework of Muslim representation in the Western media. Muslims, but also Islam, and their place in the wider Western world has been subject to plenty of scientific research over the last decades. According to many of these studies, there is an intense negative and stereotyped attitude in almost all Western media outlets towards Muslims (Shadid and van Koningsveld 2002: 174; Ameli et. al 2007: 8). Such claims provide a platform for this study to investigate if a stereotyped image of Muslims is also identified in the aftermath of the van Gogh, 7/7 and Charlie Hebdo attacks in Dutch and British newspapers. What is understood by a stereotyped image is explained later in this chapter. What follows first is brief background information to contextualize this study.

1.1.4 Background Information

To put this study into perspective, Shadid and van Koningsveld (2002: 174) have stated that the perceived danger of Muslims, as frequently reported in the media, can be traced back to the eighties and continues to the present day. Accordingly, it has often been claimed that the significant role of Western media can be held responsible for stimulating stereotyped perceptions and creating a distorted picture of Muslims (Alghamdi 2015: 198; Ameli et. al 2007: 13). On that account, common stereotypes often associated with Muslims are ‘extremists,’ ‘radicals,’ ‘terrorists,’ ‘jihadists’ ‘fanatics’ and ‘fundamentalists’ (Abdulla 2007: 1063; Schonemann 2013: 16; Ameli et. al 2007: 16; El-Farra 1996:1; Beck and Miner 2013: 3).

On the contrary, President Obama has been selecting his vocabulary very carefully when he touches upon alleged connections between religion and terrorism. Accordingly, President Obama and his advisors have aimed to avoid classifying acts of brutal violence by al-Qaeda, the so-called Islamic State, or lone wolf terrorists as ‘Muslim’ terrorism (Shane 2015). Although Obama’s verbal strategy has been subjected to on-going criticism, it implies that the Obama administration understands how mistakenly stereotyped images about Muslims have been reproduced in the media (Poorebrahim and Zarei 2012: 62). Unfortunately, some Western media outlets have not learned this lesson as yet and continue to create a stereotype image of Muslims in many ways (Alghamdi 2015: 199). Now that it has been established that Muslims tend to be stereotyped in Western media, stereotyping needs further clarification.

1.1.5 A Stereotyped Image of Muslims?

Stereotyping is often traced back to Walter Lippmann and refers to the typical thought that comes to mind when thinking about a particular social group. In other words, stereotypes are often misleading or wrong generalizations about social groups since stereotypes are most often negative but could also be positive (Blum 2004: 251; Gonzalez 2008: 669). Hence, stereotypes could shape the perceptions of people who stereotype others in such a way that they see stereotypical characteristics even when they are not present (Blum 2004: 251; El Farra 1996: 1).

In this way, stereotyping of Muslims in the media can occur in several ways since journalists can use various sorts of language to portray common beliefs about Muslims (Hamza 2009: 19). Since the media has the power to influence the mind-set of people, social relationships are often driven by stereotypes and prejudice (Shadid and van Koningsveld 2002: 174).

For the purpose of this research, a stereotyped image of Muslims is classified as the direct combination of ‘Muslim(s)’ with one of the commonly identified stereotype(s); ‘terrorist(s),’ ’extremist(s)’ ’fanatic(s),’ ‘jihadist(s),’ ‘radicals(s) and ‘fundamentalist(s).’ This means that combinations like; ’Muslim extremists,’ ‘Muslim jihadists,’ ’radical Muslims’ and so on for the other stereotypes will be searched for in this study. It has been regarded as important to select multiple stereotypes since several concepts are used in media coverage to describe Muslim extremists (Poole 2011: 52). However, just the combination of one of these stereotypes with ‘Muslim(s)’ is not sufficient to create a stereotyped image of Muslims. Additionally, the articles have to neglect the moderate masses of Muslims or as Mamdani put it; the distinction between terrorists and civilians (Mamdani 2002: 766). This could for example be visible when articles refuse to clarify that Muslims are the first victims of terrorism or that the majority of Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism (Horobin and Thomas 2015).

This approach relates to the use of spins and indexical meanings in text which infer that concepts are presented in a way to trigger a positive or negative judgement in order to create an inherent prejudice or stereotype by definition (Scheufele 2007: 105; Kelsey 2013: 5). When the common stereotypes are identified in the newspapers but are not directly combined with Muslim(s), this paper perceives these as a non-direct combination and is therefore not considered. What follows is the conceptual definition of Muslims for this study.

1.1.6 Conceptual definition of Muslim(s)

Within the literature, there has been difficulty to agree on who is a Muslim, and what it even entails to be one (Manger 2001: 137). Since plenty of terrorists have been committing acts of terrorism in the name of Islam amongst other religions (Arslan 2015: 3), reporters have to reject the notion that lone-wolf terrorists or religious extremist groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda represent a unified interpretation of what Muslims are. Thus, it is important to distinguish between terrorists and the moderate masses of Muslims. Although terrorists and moderate Muslims could both adhere to Islam, it can be stated that the terrorists, committing acts of terrorism in the name of Islam, hijack religious texts in support of unjustifiable violence (Pizzuto 2007: 48).

Through this lens, this study defines a Muslim according to criteria derived from a study undertaken by Dalia Mogahed. Accordingly, Muslims are labelled as the ones who adhere to Islam but do not claim that terrorist attacks are justified (Mogahed 2006: 1). From this point, the next section will provide an overview of the existing literature on the media representation of Muslims.

1.2 Literature Review

The main impetus of this literature review is to illustrate how the presented research is situated within more established discourses on Muslim representation in the media. Since the representation of Muslims in the media and Islamophobia, referred to as anti-Muslim feelings, are often linked to each other (Frost 2008: 574), this literature review will be divided in two sections; (1) Islamophobia and (2) Media representation of Muslims. Finally, the gap in the literature will be addressed.

1.2.1 Islamophobia

In earlier research, much has been investigated about Muslims, Islam and especially their place in the wider Western world. Plenty of these studies have touched upon perceptions rooted in Edward Said’s book Orientalism (Said 1979: 8; Kumar 2010). Hence, how the West has come to perceive Muslims nowadays is largely derived from Orientalism, the Western perception of non-Western cultures as ’other’; distant, irrational and passive (Moore et. al 2008: 3). Regarding Muslims, this ‘other’ perception has evolved into anti-Muslim feelings and violence based on race and/or religion, commonly referred to as Islamophobia (Faliq 2010: 6; Frost 2008: 564; Bleich 2011: 1582).

Nonetheless, Islamophobia as a concept has been fiercely contested. While it has been reported that Islamophobia is prominent in Europe, although one’s perspective remains subjective to disagreement, it is also echoed that the Islamophobia approach towards Muslims is empiricist, historicist and impoverishes the diversity of their religion by creating one single caricature of Muslims (Richardson, 2004: 5; Allan in Conway 1997: 145). While others have claimed that Islamophobia should be classified as racism (Rana 2007: 158), through another lens, it has been stated that ideological tensions should not be confused with cultural differences (Taras 2013: 422). Moreover, it has been echoed that Islamophobia has to be tackled within the political environment since new or existing jurisdiction often targets and disempowers Muslims (Kumar 2012; Bonino 2012: 15). Beyond these claims, it has even been argued that Islamophobia is not a valid concept since it does not exist (Hasan 2009; Sayyid 2014: 12). All in all, the general presented picture suggests that the politics of Islamophobia is a debate between the proponents and criticasters of the concept. What Islamophobia therefore means is related to the discourse on Muslim representation which has had more negative than positive connotations when contemplating the primarily negative representation of Muslims in the Western media (Poorebrahim and Zarei 2013: 45).

1.2.2 Media Representation of Muslims

From the perspective established above, an extensive part of the existing literature dealing with Muslim representation in the Western media employs quantitative analyses. Generally, the presented picture is that Western media generalize values ascribed to Muslims with terrorism, fundamentalism or violence (Baker et. al 2012; Awass 1996; Dunn 2001; Poole in Hafez 2000). Moreover, several studies concerning Muslim representation in the UK have focussed on the changes in media coverage of Muslims and also Islam in televised and printed media (Smith 2013; Moore 2008; Baker et. al 2010). Most results present a clear pattern of increased coverage concerning anti-Muslim attitudes. Accordingly, Muslims tend to be described as a security threat and as a threat to British values especially since 9/11 (Poole 2011: 59).

Looking at the Netherlands, the general presented picture illustrates that Dutch Muslims are subject to stereotyped language and manipulated media coverage (ECRI 2008: 38). In line with some of the British studies, Dutch reports have stressed that almost irrespective of the actual level of violent incidents, Muslims seem to be associated with violence (Veldhuis and Bakker 2009: 3). Furthermore, there is Dutch literature that has aimed to study attitudes towards Muslims but these studies have not focussed on media coverage (Gonzalez et. al 2008). Nonetheless, plenty of existing literature has not only depicted that the coverage of Muslims has been on the rise, Muslims are also often portrayed through the orientalist lens of the clash of civilizations (Zriba 2013: 80).

Although the representation of Muslims within the wider layers of Western media outlets has often been negative due to the significant usage of stereotypical language (Zriba 2013: 80), there are also opposing voices. Critics have challenged the negative representation of Muslim discourse on the grounds that there are alternative representations within the Western media. This view has been grounded in cross-country studies indicating that the representation of Muslims in post 9/11 media coverage was primarily positive while stereotyping of Muslims was not identified (Kodama et. al 2007). Besides, other studies have tried to stand up for Muslims while indicating that claims concerning Muslims are more generalizing compared to other ethnic groups (Feddersen 2015: 291). Additionally, reports have stated that and the portrayal of ‘Muslims as terrorist’ is slowly fading away in the media (Tutt 2011: 1). Such media representations are therefore not in line with claims that media reporting with regards to Muslims is always done in a single caricature and negative way (Richardson 2004: 5). Although several studies have presented a counter narrative against the negative representation of Muslims in Western media, the general portrayal of Muslims is said to focus on stereotypes and discriminatory language which consequently presents Muslims through a more negative than positive lens (Alghamdi 2015: 203).

Leaving general media representation of Muslims aside, several British studies have also investigated the representation of Muslims after terrorist attacks and especially after 9/11 (Ameli et. al 2007; Moore et. al 2008; Allen 2012; Croft 2012). Besides 9/11, the general presented picture also relates to other terrorist events like the Madrid and 7/7 bombings in 2004 and 2005 but also the Norway attacks in 2011. Accordingly, it has become evident that the coupling of words such as ‘extremist’, ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘terrorist’ with Islam or Muslim has been visible in both printed and broadcasted Western media (Alghamdi 2015; Smith 2013; Ameli et. al 2007; Allen and Neilsen 2002; Shaw 2012). However, a gap in the existing literature has been identified.

1.2.3 Gap in the Literature

Following the above established literature review, the gap in the literature constitutes the fact that no scientific study has examined if a stereotyped image of Muslims has been created in newspapers concerning the aftermath of the van Gogh, 7/7 and Charlie Hebdo attacks in a comparative study between the Netherlands and the UK. Contrasting newspaper coverage in two Western countries, regarding the same terrorist attacks, this study offers a unique comparison and not only aims to contribute to the wider existing literature on media representation of Muslims, it also aims to address the identified gap in the literature. How the rest of this study is structured is what follows next.

1.3 Sequence of the Study

Following this first introductory chapter, the theoretical framework will be elaborated on in Chapter 2 and will primarily discuss how media outlets set the agenda of news, how they are capable of constructing reality through the selection of language, and how this could lead to a stereotyped image of Muslims.

The methodology will be explained in Chapter 3 and will emphasize on Critical Discourse Analysis offering a platform to investigate if a stereotyped image of Muslims is created. More importantly, the third chapter explains the process of data collection, the applied time frames and the unit of analysis for this study.

Chapter 4 will offer the analysis with regards to how media set the news agenda concerning Muslims (priming) and how this triggers stereotyped images of Muslims. These figures will be presented for both the Netherlands and the UK.

Chapter 5 will analyse the data retrieved from the Dutch newspaper databases and will examine the language employed (framing) to describe Muslims and if this creates stereotyped image. Finally, a comparison will be made between domestic and international coverage of the studied attacks.

Chapter 6 will be structured along the same lines and will offer the results for the UK. However, as opposed to chapter 5 this chapter will also offer a cross-national comparison. In order to present results, both chapter 5 and 6 also rely on the information stated in the previous chapters. Finally, this research provides a summary of the study, answers the research question and related sub-questions while also touching upon the limitations of the study.

Chapter 2: Theoretical Framework and the Media

The second chapter will establish the theoretical framework for this study and has drawn some inspiration from an earlier study undertaken concerning the priming and framing of Muslims in Argentina (Ahlin and Carler 2011). Besides an explanation of priming as an extension of the agenda setting theory, the framing theory will be familiarized. Finally, this chapter explains how the social theories will be used.

2.1 Introduction

The theoretical basis of this study is rooted in the psychological framework established by theorists like John Anderson, Robert Entman, Dietram Scheufele, and Allan Collins amongst others and relates to priming as an extension of the agenda setting theory and the framing theory (Anderson 1983; Collins and Loftus 1975; Entman 1993). Taken together, both theories provide a framework to analyse how stereotyped images of Muslims can be created through media discourse. However, this also means that the outcome of these two theories is not set in stone as journalists can change the use of language to describe Muslims amongst other concepts over time.

From this point, priming as an extension of the agenda setting theory will emphasize on the role of word repetition, while the framing theory will explain how issues are presented in the media through the use of language, also referred to as ‘frames’ (Entman 1993: 52; Kinoshita 1995: 569). From this point, the next sections will elaborate on the social theories for this study.

2.1.1 Priming and Agenda Setting Theory

To begin with priming, psychologists Collins and Loftus amongst other scholars have established that when an issue is primed in the media, target audiences acquire memory traces which mean that an issue is frequently reported and therefore becomes more accessible in the audiences’ mind (Scheufele and Tewksbury 2007: 11; Kinoshita 1995: 569; Collins and Loftus 1975: 409). In this way, priming is often perceived as an extension of the agenda setting theory which also asserts that there is a link between the amount of media coverage on issues and the importance attributed to these issues by its audiences (McCombs and Shaw 1972: 177; Tewksbury and Scheufele 2007: 11). As such, this study will use priming and agenda setting interchangeably while referring to the frequency of articles on Muslims.

Consequently, the repeated usage of the same issue in the media would make it more prominent in relation to the context in which the issue is primed (Scheufele and Iyengar 2011: 8; McKoon and Ratcliff 1992: 1155). In other words, according to these memory-based models, judgments and attitudes are directly linked with the frequency in which issues are brought to the target audiences (Scheufele 2009: 299).

In this way, van Dijk has clarified that the media is a very powerful actor in the sense that the media has the potential to control the minds of their target audiences through language (Van Dijk 1995: 11). Since the media can therefore affect perceptions by setting the news agenda, it indirectly also affects the socio-cultural context in which individuals interact with each other (Grossberg et. al 2005: 4).

All in all, priming as an extension of the agenda setting theory will be adequate for this study since the priming of Muslims determines not so much what people will think, but rather what they will think about Muslims (McCombs and Shaw 1972: 177; Scheufele and Tewksbury 2007: 14). Hence, whether and what people think about Muslims, in turn, becomes an important factor that triggers stereotyped images when high priming levels of Muslims are seen in the context of terrorist attacks (Iyengar and Kinder in Das et. al 2009: 454). This leaves the discussion what is perceived as a high priming level of Muslims.

2.1.2 High Priming Level of Muslims

Looking at the role of the media, issues are constantly presented in a way to suggest what individuals in the mass should think about, know about, and have feelings about (McCombs and Shaw 1972: 177). In this way, the priming level of Muslims is an indicator of how Muslims could come to be perceived within the society (Scheufele and Tewksbury 2007: 11).

Putting priming into a practical perspective, a scientific study has shown that newspaper discourse related to terrorism, in the aftermath of the attack against Theo van Gogh led to an increase of stereotyped attitudes against Arabs in the Netherlands (Das et. al 2009: 455). Hence, it signifies that a high priming level of Muslims triggers stereotyped images since terrorism has frequently been associated with Muslims by most of the international media (Yusof et. al 2013: 104). As such, the repeated usage of the word ‘Muslim’ in this context could trigger a stereotype of Muslims as ’terrorists’ which then could become a common belief across different layers of society (van Dijk 2006: 117).

In this way, this study asserts that a high priming level of Muslims not only triggers stereotyped perceptions in the aftermath of the van Gogh attack, as illustrated by Das, but also in the aftermath of the 7/7 and Charlie Hebdo attacks. From this perspective, a priming-analysis is of great importance to understand the impact of framing of which the results will be presented in Chapter five and six. Since it is expected that plenty of articles will mention Muslims in the aftermath of the studied attacks, as all three attacks are committed by Islamic perpetrator(s), a high priming level of Muslims in this study is perceived as 50 articles mentioning Muslim(s) or more per newspaper and per attack. Since no scientific studies have been found that set a benchmark for high priming figures this study has set its own threshold at 50 articles. Nonetheless, in order to understand this agenda setting of Muslims and if this also leads to a stereotyped image, the framing theory will be the primary employed theory.

2.2 Framing Theory

In order to understand priming, the framing theory and differs significantly from the aforementioned priming and agenda setting accessibility-based models. Rather, the framing theory is built on the premise that how an issue is characterized can feed stereotyped images (Scheufele and Tewksbury 2007: 11). According to Entman, media create and shape reality through inclusion and exclusion of information. In other words, frames could include language that highlights certain elements of a perceived reality in order to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation (Entman 1993: 52).

From this point, it signifies that the language used in newspapers can create a stereotyped image of Muslims. In this regard, the most prominent framing technique for this study is spins. Spins refer to the stereotyped frame as established in Chapter one and are used with reference to the manipulation of information to create an inherent prejudice or stereotype by definition (Jowett and Donnell 2005: 3). In this sense, the framing theory helps to identify these spins when Muslims are stereotyped as terrorists, extremists, fundamentalists, radicals or jihadists while the vast majority of them actually are not.

Hence, different media outlets could frame Muslims in a different way depending on type of language used by their reporters (Entman 1993: 57). Consequently, the framing theory is not concerned with the question what is being communicated by the media, but rather with how news is being framed through language (Scheufele and Lyengar 2011:1). However, in order to understand media frames for the purpose of this study, it has to be distinguished between frame building and frame setting (Scheufele 1999: 15). As such, frame building refers to the way in which language is organized in a text whereas frame setting deals with the effect of the media frames on public perception (De Vreese 2005: 51). Although this research does not aim to measure public perception, it can eventually still be argued how the readers of newspaper articles come to perceive Muslims following the analysis of the articles. Nonetheless, this study focuses on frame building.

From this perspective, people are actually not allowed to know what is not published since framing asserts that news is presented by means of selection, emphasis and exclusion of information (Eadie 2009:10). Therefore, it has been established that the persuasive power lies with the media since it has the potential to control the mind of the readers to some extent while it cannot control readers’ actions (van Dijk 2006: 359). Although stereotypes can be shaped by various social actors belonging to the power elite, it is widely acknowledged that mass media are the primary way through which people obtain their information (Alghamdi 2015: 198; McCombs and Shaw 1972: 176; van Dijk 2000: 34).

All in all, the framing theory is classified as the main theory in this study since it provides a consistent roadmap to illustrate the power of language in newspapers and text in general. As such, frame building analysis provides the exact way in which influence over people’s mind-set is expressed through the usage of language from one location such as a speech, news reports or newspapers, to target audiences (Entman 1993: 51). In this way, the framing theory will prove adequate to identify if a stereotyped image of Muslims is identified. How the social theories in this study will be used is explained in the next section.

2.3 Utilization of the Social Theories

Now that it has been established which theoretical framework will be employed and what kind of stereotyped frame will be looked for in this study, it has to be explained how priming and framing will be used. A priming analysis will be executed first in order to examine how the media set the news agenda concerning Muslims by examining how many articles mention Muslims which could trigger stereotypes in the context of terrorist attacks. Afterwards, in order to understand the priming results, the framing theory will be used and has established that the media control information which could breed stereotyped perceptions of Muslims through the use of language. Hence, it will be examined if the stereotyped images of Muslims, as described in Chapter 1, are produced in the selected British and Dutch newspapers. In this way, the independent variable in this study is newspaper coverage while public perception is the dependent variable. Although priming and framing are related to public perception (De Vreese 2005: 51), this study does not aim to measure the effects of newspaper coverage on public perception but rather acknowledges that priming and framing are based on the idea that mass media has potentially strong cognitive effects (Scheufele and Tewksbury 2007: 11; Entman 1993: 51). Hence, the only investigated variable in this study is the independent variable as stated in figure 1.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1 Independent vs dependent variable

2.4 Conclusion

In summary, the second chapter has presented the theoretical framework for this research. Accordingly, it has been established that priming and framing focus on media discourse and therefore especially media framing analysis has the explanatory power to explain how stereotyped images can be created through the framing of Muslims. This will be examined by studying the independent variable in this study; newspaper coverage. The next chapter will discuss the methodology chosen for this research.

Chapter 3: Methodology

The third chapter will elaborate on the method chosen for this study. In order to find if a stereotyped image of Muslims is created in Dutch and British newspapers, this study employs Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as its primary quantitative technique (McNamara 2011: 2). However, before applying CDA, an introduction of CDA will be provided which will be linked to the research question and the established theoretical framework. Afterwards, this chapter goes on to elaborate on the selection of newspapers, the unit of analysis, the data collection process and the chosen timeframes.

3.1 Introducing CDA

CDA can be traced back to Van Dijk’s journal Discourse and Society (1990) and examines how social or ethnic groups are represented through the role of language in text and talk (van Dijk 1995: 18). Subsequently, CDA emphasizes on the manipulation of content by the media. Through the manipulation and exclusion of information, the cognitive process of target audiences could be influenced which in turn could lead to political, cultural, class, ethnic, racial or gender inequality (van Dijk, 1995:250; van Dijk 1995: 18). Building upon the established relationship between the media, powerful social actors belonging to the power elite, and the cognitive manipulation of target audiences, CDA implies that the media are a means between the power elite and their audiences.

From this perspective, Blommaert and Bulcaen have reinforced van Dijk’s emphasize on language as a key component of CDA and argued that the framing of individuals or social groups in the contemporary social and political environment has acquired significant attention (Blommaert and Bulcaen 2000: 458-459). Consequently, van Dijk has stressed that the connection between the media, language and the representation of social groups is of particular importance (van Dijk 1993: 249-250). In this way, CDA offers an understanding of how news is brought into the minds of the readers. This is better known as cognitive structure; the way in which the framing of a text aims to influence the cognitive process of the readers (van Dijk 1995: 254). Thus, CDA relates nicely to how language is employed in textual structures concerning priming and framing and how this could create a stereotyped image.

On this account, the analysis of language, and how this language is brought into the minds of individuals, is significant because stereotyped images created through newspaper discourse could be adopted by its readers. As such, a stereotyped image of Muslims in Dutch and British newspapers could come to be regarded as an obvious belief or common sense by target audiences (van Dijk 2006: 117).

Since CDA aims to address the process that tries to manipulate the mind of the readers through language and textual framing, Blommaert and Bulcaen have also stressed that it is not sufficient to highlight the way in which social groups are represented in the media. Hence, CDA also aims to; empower the powerless, expose power abuse and discourse manipulation by power elites, and finally, trigger people to condemn social wrongs (Blommaert and Bulcaen 2000: 449). This is further strengthened by Toolan who has claimed that CDA should eventually provide proposals for amendments or suggest corrections to particular discourses (Toolan in Blommaert and Bulcaen 2000: 449). Thus, eventual recommendations given at the end of this study should then be seen in the light of the social-cultural context. In the next section of this research, the rationale behind CDA will briefly be explained.

3.1.1 Rationale behind CDA

In critique of CDA, and in spite of the fact that it is often argued that CDA is neither a qualitative nor a quantitative research method, but a way of challenging the basic assumptions of quantitative and qualitative methods, it has been claimed that quantitative research only measures certain things and not everything. In other words, Berger has stated that CDA as a quantitative method is narrow minded and lacks the explanatory power to explain relations between an event and society (Berger 2000: 13).

In response to such criticism, this study has acknowledged that media frames have the potential to affect public perception. Notwithstanding, this research does not aim to measure the direct implications of media frames within the society. Rather, CDA enables this study to examine the possible motivations behind a text (Daniel 2011: 55). In this way, CDA is adequate for the interpretation of news and therefore to measure if a stereotyped image of Muslims is created in the aftermath of the van Gogh, 7/7 and Charlie Hebdo attacks. In the next section it is explained how the data will be collected.

3.2 Data Collection

Following CDA as the methodological approach in this study, the data collection procedure will now start with the selection of terrorist attacks.

[...]

Excerpt out of 69 pages

Details

Title
The Representation of Muslims in the Media
Subtitle
Comparing the Priming and Framing of Muslims in Newspaper Coverage in the Aftermath of Terrorist Attacks
College
University of Nottingham
Course
MA International Relations
Grade
distinction (74)
Author
Year
2015
Pages
69
Catalog Number
V316255
ISBN (eBook)
9783668202788
ISBN (Book)
9783946458609
File size
446 KB
Language
English
Tags
representation, muslims, media, comparing, priming, framing, newspaper, coverage, aftermath, terrorist, attacks
Quote paper
MA International Relations Daniel Wijnans (Author), 2015, The Representation of Muslims in the Media, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/316255

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