Islamic veiling in Western Societies: A critical framing analysis of the role of online German newspaper comments in the (re)production or challenge of Islamophobia

Feifel, Anna Dorothee (2016-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Islamic veils are often interpreted as a visible sign of Islam and especially as symbol for some assumed characteristics of the religion, such as oppression of women, fundamentalism or backwardness (Maconald 2006: 8). Thus, the debate about Islamic veiling habits appears suitable to gain insight into the ways that German Media discourses perceive, discuss and approach Islam and Muslims. For this purpose, this thesis investigated, from a critical discourse analytical perspective, the linguistic construction of Islamic veiling in debates among ordinary individuals on online comment sections of Germany’s leading news website www.spiegel-online.de The critical analysis of this discourse sought to identify trends and patterns in the discussions about Islamic veiling practices by assessing which frames occur in what frequency (quantitative analysis) and how these frames are presented and applied in the comments (qualitative analysis). Based on a quantitative and qualitative frame analysis, the study compared common master frames extracted from the international media discourse to frames and arguments which are invoked in comments posted underneath online articles discussing the discourse on Islamic veiling habits in Western and Islamic societies. This analysis showed that comments that (re)constructed negative views of Islamic veiling typically reflected the master frames of “intolerance”, “fundamentalism”, “oppression of women” and “backwardness”. In contrast, comments that (re)constructed tolerant views of Islamic veiling did not counterframe such master frames – rather, they drew on the German or Western values they invoke as guiding principles for the social coexistence in Europe, thus constructing their tolerance as a reluctant consequence of their democratic values rather than a recognition of the value of cultural pluralism. Understanding the dynamics of this discourse can be of great value because Germany and other European countries are facing social challenges in terms of integration and its long-term ramifications (Bade 1997: 9; Bommes 1997: 249), not just since the current refugee crisis has occurred. The success of this endeavor is highly dependent on whether and how Germans Stellenbosch welcome and interact with other cultures and religions, especially Muslims, because this will shape the communal life and the public space in Germany.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Die analiese het gewys dat komentaar wat negatiewe sieninge van Islamitiese bedekking (her)produseer tipies gebruik maak van die meesterraamwerke (master frames) wat in die media gebruik word, insluitend “onverdraagsaamheid”, “onderdrukking van vroue”, en “agterlikheid”. In kontras hiermee het aanlyn komentaar wat verdraagsame sieninge van Islamitiese bedekking (her)produseer nie sulke raamwerke teestaan (“counterframe”) nie – hulle het eerder verwys na Duitse of Westerse waardes wat hulle raadpleeg as leidende beginsels vir sosiale naasbestaan in Europa, dus konstrueer hulle hulle verdraagsaamheid is ‘n onwillige gevolg van hul demokratiese waardes eerder as ‘n erkenning van die waarde in kulturele pluralisme. Verstand van die dinamieka van hierdie diskoers kan van groot waarde wees omdat Duitsland en ander Europese lande sosiale uitdagings ervaar in terme van integrasion en die langtermyn gevolge daarvan, nie net sedert die huidige vlugtelingkrisis nie. Die sukses van hierdie poging is hoogs afhanklik op of en hoe Duitsers interakteer met ander kulture en gelowe en hulle verwelkom, vir al Moslems, omdat dit die kommunale lewe en publieke spasie in Duitsland sal beinvloed.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98854
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