British Islam : media representations and social meanings
2014-12-15T10:40:20Z (GMT) by
This thesis examines meanings circulating about British Muslims in both sections of the British press and its audience. It addresses theoretical questions that have been raised which suggest that in the current political epoch, with its New World Order, Islam has been constructed as the necessary enemy of 'the West'. Consequently, Islam has been demonised in the Western media. This study attempts to verify these arguments and address criticisms of them, specifically the homogenisation of Islam, the West and its media, by concentrating on a specific genre within a specific context: the British national press. The first part of the study entails a quantitative analysis of 800 texts from two British broadsheets, The Times and The Guardian , providing their 'news frameworks' with regards to British Islam. This provides the context for the second part of the research, a qualitative discourse analysis of 159 texts, including two tabloid papers, The Mail and The Sun. Having established the 'preferred' meanings of Islam in a range of papers, reception analysis was included to establish the range of audience meanings, recognising that meanings are not fixed in texts. Particular attention was paid to the variable of cultural proximity, based on the hypothesis that contact with Muslims would work to counter media constructions. Three types of groups were used, Muslims, and non-Muslims with regular, and no contact with Muslims. The findings of this study shows that there is a consistent and limited 'news framework' with some differences between papers in terms of news values, style, presentation and in particular, political orientations. The non-Muslim audience shares their discursive construction of 'Islam within' as a cultural, ideological threat. Contact with Muslims appears to make little difference in understandings of Islam, as race is the dominant signifier. This thesis provides a detailed analysis of the meanings of British Islam circulating within a specific context, in all their forms and variations.