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Understanding perceptions of Muslims in the news

This book considers how the coverage of Islam and Muslims in the press informs the thoughts and actions of non-Muslims. As media plays an important role in society, analysing its influence(s) on a person’s ideas and conceptualisations of people with another religious persuasion is important. News reports commonly feature stories discussing terrorism, violence, the lack of integration and compatibility, or other unwelcome or irrational behaviour by Muslims and Islam. Yet there is little research on how non-Muslims actually engage with, and are affected by, such reports. To address this gap, a content and discourse analysis of news stories was undertaken; verbal narratives or thoughts and actions of participants were then elicited using interviews and focus groups. The participant accounts point towards the normativity of news stories and their negotiated reception patterns. Individual orientations towards the media as an 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 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 and participant responses. This research clearly shows that participant responses are (re)productions of local and personal contextuality, where the consequences of socially constructed depictions of Islam and Muslims engage rather than influence individual human thoughts and actions.

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Laurens de Rooij

The book starts by detailing the theoretical and methodological background to the work, and how this informs the work itself. It then goes on to explain the significance of each individual chapter to the study as a whole, as well as the field in general.

in Islam in British media discourses
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British media as a discursive system
Laurens de Rooij

This chapter employs Foucault’s understanding of discourse, as suggested in the introduction, to analyse how media in Britain as a system of knowledge, engages with Islam. The British press is understood here as one method for managing and producing Muslims, in a political, sociological, ideological, and imaginative manner. As a consequence, these statements constitute how Muslims and Islam are perceived and can transform their audience’s understanding of Muslims and Islam in accordance with the presupposed system of knowledge.

in Islam in British media discourses
Laurens de Rooij

This chapter discusses how the media practices of a media institution relate to the practices of individuals. By exploring the thoughts and actions of non-Muslims’ media behaviour, it is possible to ascertain in what ways a mediacratic society informs and structures behaviour. This will provide a natural follow-on from chapters 1 and 2, and informs the reader as to how media as an institution relates to socio-political practices.

in Islam in British media discourses
Laurens de Rooij

This chapter explores how current portrayals of Islam and Muslims influence society. It does so by putting research data gathered using focus groups and interviews with non-Muslim participants in dialogue with one another. This then leads to a discussion about how this affects socio-political engagement, with a particular reference to the spreading of ideologies, discourses, and political capital. This will be explored by looking at how media communication and public debate affect community relations on the ground, through participant voices.

in Islam in British media discourses
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Laurens de Rooij

This chapter analyses how the findings of the research relate to current topical issues. It does this by examining the data in light of recent events. This leads to a discussion on how socio-political events are informed by media discourse, and how those discourses continue to inform the thoughts and actions of non-Muslims on an everyday basis.

in Islam in British media discourses
Laurens de Rooij

This chapter covers the representations of Muslims and Islam, exploring the dominant ideas that contribute to the construction of Muslim identities in the press. It provides an in-depth insight into the context of such debates and themes and will offer an assessment of the symbols used in contemporary media. It reveals the manner in which discourses surrounding Muslims circulate, and considers broader issues of integration, multiculturalism, and accommodation debates and experiences.

in Islam in British media discourses