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Title: The discursive representation of Islam and Muslims in British broadsheet newspapers
Author: Richardson, John Edward
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2002
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This thesis analyses the discursive representation of Islam and Muslims in British broadsheet newspapers. Here, discourse is defined as 'language in use', and therefore discourse analysis is the analysis of 'what people do with language'. By foregrounding the practical functions of language in such a way, this thesis' analysis of broadsheet newspapers illustrates that news discourse can function as action and not merely interaction. That is, broadsheet journalism is viewed not merely as reporting and re-presenting social relationships, but as a social practice instrumental in producing, reproducing and/or resisting (unequal) social relationships between Muslim and non-Muslim The thesis employs two methods of data collection and analysis. First, quantitative content analysis was used in order to provide an initial macro exploration of journalistic content across the sampled broadsheet newspaper reports. Second, Critical Discourse Analysis was used in order to explore meaning - and the social implications of such meaning - within these same journalistic texts. The results were considerably enriched by the combination of these research methods. The results show that broadsheet newspaper reporting is predominantly characterised by racist representations of Islam and Muslims. This dominant position is based on a two-fold process of 'division and rejection' typical in racist discourse which relies upon a negative other-presentation and a simultaneous positive self-presentation. 'Our' positivity is only explicitly stated when defending against accusations of intolerance and/or discrimination, but is implied throughout via an associative relationship between 'the West' and 'civility'. In contrast, 'Their' negativity is frequently asserted, with journalists drawing upon four archetypal prejudicial strategies which emphasise 'the Muslim threat': a military threat; the threat of extremism and terrorism; despotism and the threat to democracy; and the social threat of gender inequality. The specific articulation of these four prejudicial discourses varies between different reporting topics and across different national reporting contexts, which, I argue, illustrates the importance of adopting a context-sensitive position when analysing journalistic discourse.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: JISC Digital Islam
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Language; Journalistic content; Racism; Racist representation