Arab Media and Transitions to Democracy
Journalistic Practices in Communicating Conflicts in the Post–Arab Uprisings
The inquiry aspires to develop an innovative conceptual framework of journalistic practices and their impact on the outcomes of transitions following the Arab uprisings, especially on the pacification/resolution of conflicts. The analysis aims to depict the complexities of the media’s role as a political institution in violent transitions. It aims to investigate the ambivalent role of media as both a force for democratisation and also an engine for divisions and polarisation in a context of troubled transitions to democracy.
Despite its crucial influence, little research has been conducted on the important role played by Arab traditional media in shaping the uprisings’ outcomes. The research will contribute to filling this gap by providing an empirically rooted and nuanced analysis of journalistic practices as a major player in a system of power relations.
This project’s methodology will include comparative analysis that investigates similarities and differences across countries (i.e. Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia), and single case studies that explore specific contexts. It will adopt a novel approach by analysing journalistic practices shaped by competing, conflicting and intertwined factors: structures (regulations, ownership models, etc.); journalists’ agency and self-perception of identity; and external networks of influence exercised by other institutions (political, religious, business, etc.).
The research will immensely help in building our understanding of human and cultural contexts and the underlying dynamics that influence the paths of political change in the Arab world. By depicting the nuances of the media’s role in supporting or hindering change, the research will inform practices and policies aimed at contributing to sustainable governance and the processes of institution building in these countries while they go through tumultuous transitions with unpredictable and often violent outcomes.
The project is funded by the British Academy Sustainable Development Programme. It is based at the University of Essex’s Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies (LiFTS) and is in partnership with the Firoz Lalji Center for Africa at LSE, the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies at King's College London and ARTICLE 19.