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Title: Covering Muslim women : a corpus-based critical discourse analysis of the BBC and Arab news
Author: Al-Hejin , Bandar
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2012
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Despite a proliferation of research on Islam and Muslims in the media, very little work has focused on Muslim women, a much-debated social group that clearly merits special consideration. More specifically, no studies have approached the topic with any comprehensive methodologies, certainly not from a critical linguistic perspective. The overall aim of this thesis is therefore to investigate how Muslim women are represented in the BBe News compared to Arab News, as major 'Western' and 'Muslim' news sources respectively. The textual analyses are based on two purpose-built corpora, the BBCC (1.9 million words in 3,269 articles) and the ANC (2.2 million words in 3,111 articles), comprising all available articles mentioning Muslim women in the two news organisations' web sites from 2001 to 2007. Drawing on theory from critical discourse studies, the research employs analytical tools and concepts from the Dialectical-relational, Socio-cognitive, Discourse-historical, and Sociosemantic approaches to critical discourse analysis. These are combined with corpusbased methodologies to investigate linguistic patterns associated with Muslim women across thousands of texts in each corpus. The analysis therefore stands apart from previous studies in two respects. The first is its exhaustive approach to identifying a wide range of salient as well as underreported issues related to Muslim women in news discourse. The second is demonstrating a more integrated approach to conducting the quantitative and qualitative analyses that uniquely enhances the synergy between critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics. Findings suggest that Muslim women's representations are largely restricted in terms of regional coverage. Semantic macro structures related to conflict and crime are more prevalent in the BBC than Arab News. Muslim women in Arab News also appear in a wider range of contexts reporting their achievements and concerns in areas such as education, business and employment. Another contrast manifests itself in the way the two news sources construct the religion of Islam, especially in the context of women's rights where religious and cultural practices are often conflated. The hijab is a nodal discourse surrounding Muslim women in both news sources, but it was statistically more prominent in the BBe and its discourse prosody was more negative than in Arab News. The function of the hijab as a descriptive feature in some texts is often unclear, raising serious questions about its relevance. Overall, the representations of Muslim women are often problematic. Western 'liberal' narratives supported by 'evidence' from 'moderate' Muslim voices tend to be preferred in the BBe's reporting, especially with regard to the hijab. This results in a marginalisation of a majority of female Muslim voices. A number of recommendations are made for journalists to avoid recurrent misrepresentations of the experiences, hopes and concerns of different Muslim women. Keywords: critical discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, Muslim women, BBe, Arab News, media, newspapers, online news
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available