Politicized Collective Identity of Muslims and Arabs in American Media.

  • Abstract:

    The media are in the unique position to influence public opinion and create and modify the image of in-groups and out-groups within a society as well as between societies. Collective identities may become politicized (Thompson 1995) and it seems that the media have more power to politicize certain groups than any other institution. Today, stigmatization of Muslims and Arabs can be found in the media across many countries. However, the United States seems to be in the centre of politicizing these communities. Alazzany (2012) argues that at the beginning of the 1990s Islam replaced the Soviet Union in American culture and became ‘the other’ for Americans, because every in-group becomes stronger if it can relate to at least one out-group (Stangor 2000). The present study involves a critical discourse analysis of the language used in reference to the Muslim and Arab communities in the programming of two American television stations, CNN and Fox News. As statistical background for the qualitative analysis, a corpus study representing semantic prosody of the tokens ‘Muslim’, ‘Islam’ and ‘Arab’ is added. It categorises the collocates of the tokens and explains in what type of reports they are most frequently used. The results of the study indicate that the discourse of American media politicizes and dehumanizes the two aforementioned communities. Linguistic strategies such as repetition, conceptual metaphor creation and generalization are used to politicize the identity and ideology of Muslims and Arabs. The outcome of the study is identifies discursive strategies used in American media and establishes a pattern for the misrepresentation of minorities within a cosmopolitan society.