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Negotiating Group Identities in a Multicultural Society. Case: The Role of Mainstream Media, Discourse Relations and Political Alliances in Germany

Book - Dissertation

This research on media portrayals of (ethnic/religious) minorities encompasses the fields of media sociology, media effects, political communication, multiculturalism, populism in the media and politicized uses of collective identities. It compares the political discourse (Bundestag plenary protocols) with the mainstream discourse (mainstream press) in Germany over the sample period of 2009-2015, and scrutinizes a multi-layered debate from different perspectives by combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Moreover, this study intends to detect, analyze and connect the dots between recurrent themes, news stories, actors, events and ideologies within the delicate debate on minorities in Germany's multicultural society. The mixed-methods approach includes content analysis, template analysis, relational discourse analysis, latent class cluster analysis and multinomial logistic regression. The interdisciplinary approach of this research project presents various aspects of social sciences, such as media and communication studies (agenda-setting theory), social psychology (social-identity theory), media sociology (discursive power), political science (right-wing populism) and anthropology (race and ethnicity).Chapter 3 detects Thilo Sarrazin's viewpoints, perspectives and arguments concerning the debate on immigration, integration and multiculturalism in 2009-2010. Moreover, main themes, topics and debate actors are identified by means of a qualitative template analysis. Sarrazin's book provides evidence for various concepts of social identity theory, such as social categorization (in-group vs. out-group), stereotyping of out-group (Muslims), in-group favoritism and objectification of Muslims based on their economic benefit.Chapter 4 examines mass media representations (German mainstream press) of the German multiculturalism debate across the years 2009-2014, by using the agenda-setting theory (attribute agenda) and applying a quantitative content Analysis. These findings are consistent with the main topics from Sarrazin's book: a high prevalence of topics related to integration, immigration and populism across all newspaper alignments can be found. Moreover, mostly right-leaning newspapers portray Muslims as different from German culture (culturalism and pragmatism discourse) and associate them with problems and threat (culturalism).Chapter 5 analyzes the German press (mainstream discourse) and plenary protocols of the German parliament (political discourse) and identifies their potential gaps and overlaps across the years 2010-2014. Based on agenda-setting theory, news values and social identity theory, a quantitative content analysis, latent class cluster analysis (LCA) and multinomial logistic regression (MLR) are combined as methods to provide a mixed-methods approach. Hence, qualitative methods, such as interpretative analysis, are applied to contextualize quantitative results with concrete news headlines and to provide depth to these abstract results. Within both discourses (mainstream and political) a high prevalence of the themes refugees, immigration and integration (high co-occurrence in the largest LCA cluster in newspapers) is found. Moreover, various minorities (foreigners, Muslims and Turks) are emergent and continuously mentioned across the years, and actors with conservative stances towards multiculturalism outweigh. Despite the contextualization of newspaper discourse results substantiating our previous analyses, the journalistic spectrum remains fuzzy as further relevant news events might be hidden within both the national and regional coverage not included in this study.Chapter 6 includes a case-study and the evaluation of the mainstream press coverage on most recent German right-wing populist movements (Pegida and AfD) and their impact on the overall integration discourse across the years 2013-2015. A quantitative content analysis is combined with a relational discourse analysis (RDA) by using following measures: consonance power describes the capacity to articulate a discourse others (readers, collaborators, followers) have agreed with, and articulation power describes the capacity of an actor to make an intervention because of his/her relevancy or authority. Accordingly, AfD and Pegida (including their leaderships) and New Right movement score much higher in articulation power and much lower in consonance power than a Merkel-led cabinet. Among minorities only refugees receive a significant level of positive responses, whereas Muslims score very low in consonance power. Muslims and refugees display zero influence within the German media debate on AfD and Pegida. In contrast, the significance of refugees within this debate is indicated by their third highest score in-degree centrality, which refers to the number of ties directed towards this group.It can be concluded that the distinct emphasis of each discourse is based on their different functions, because mainstream newspapers are mainly driven by news values, while Bundestag plenary sessions follow a political agenda. Nevertheless, this apparent lack of correspondence between the two discourses is regarded as dysfunctional in the long run. The main public discourse on integration and immigration topics is drifting away from that of the governmental institutions, such as the German Bundestag, as it is increasingly held within mainstream press only. This development constitutes an imperilment for the general political process and its growth, because it evokes a disconnection between politics, media and society.
Number of pages: 263
Publication year:2017