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Title: Engaging representations : the interpretation of Islam and Muslims in the News by a non-Muslim audience
Author: De-Rooij, Laurens Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 6058 6410
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2017
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Inspired by the apparent overtly negative coverage of Islam and Muslims by the mainstream press, this thesis asks the research question: In what ways do depictions of Muslims and Islam in the News inform the thoughts and actions of non-Muslims in England? As the media plays an important role in society, the analysis of the influences of the media on a person’s ideas and conceptualisations of people of another religious persuasion is an important social issue. News reports about Islam and Muslims commonly relate stories that discuss terrorism, violence or other unwelcome or irrational behaviour, or the lack of integration and compatibility of Muslims and Islam with western values and society. Yet there is little research on how non-Muslims in England engage with and are affected by media reports about Islam and Muslims. To address this gap of knowledge, a content and discourse analysis of news stories was undertaken and then verbal narratives or thoughts and actions of participants were elicited through fieldwork using focus groups. The data reveals personal stories that point towards the normativity of news stories and their negotiated reception patterns. Individual orientations towards the media as a primary information source proved to be a significant factor behind the importance of news reports, with individually negotiated personal encounters with Muslims or Islam further affecting the meaning-making process. Participants negotiated media reports to fit their existing outlook on Islam and Muslims. This existing outlook was constructed through, and simultaneously supported by, news reports about Muslims and Islam. The findings suggest a co-dependency and co-productivity between news reports about Islam and Muslims, and participant responses. This research clearly shows: The utility of focus groups in religious studies, the usefulness of a hermeneutical framework in the field of media studies, and demonstrates that participant responses are (re) productions of local and personal contextuality. These conclusions point to a need for further research into the consequences of socially constructed depictions of Islam and Muslims and their influence on human thoughts and actions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available