Pan-Arab satellite television phenomenon : a catalyst of democratisation and socio-political change

Abusalem, Ali (2007) Pan-Arab satellite television phenomenon : a catalyst of democratisation and socio-political change. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

In less than ten years, Aljazeera television has become the most popular satellite news service in the Arab world. Regimes around the region have regarded Aljazeera as a threat, while Aljazeera has consistently claimed that it is simply reporting the truth. Notwithstanding this, Aljazeera has successfully established its presence in the media world despite the controversies surrounding its professional approach and the hammering criticism that has been directed to it in both the Middle East and the West. This research explores the thesis that Aljazeera is a catalyst of democratisation and social and political change in the Arab world. As a recent media phenomenon, Aljazeera has been playing a critical role in changing the social and political values of societies in the Arab world and viewers’ perceptions of a range of social and cultural topics relating to human rights, equality, diversity, gender, employment and exploitation. It is said that through its persistent campaigns to raise the awareness of its increasingly broadening viewer base to these issues, Aljazeera has created a new public sphere in the Arab countries that are traditionally and historically non-democratic in the least and despotic and dictatorial in the extreme. It became “[the] arena within which debate occurs...” (Hartley, 2002, p.191) between viewers who share in the process of discourse to communicate and debate. In this context Aljazeera provided a public forum for Arab viewers to express their views and address a range of sensitive and controversial issues. Consequently, it is the perception of democracy that Aljazeera seems to be fostering in the Arab world, which is leading to a sense of empowerment at the individual level. The research sought to examine this phenomenon through a field study that garnered vital data from a representative sample of 600 viewers of Aljazeera, including 100 media professionals, in four Arab countries: Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, and amongst the Arab diaspora (with the Australian Arabs as a focus group). The data was analysed against a media model that was developed specifically for that purpose. The findings support the research hypothesis that Aljazeera is a catalyst of democratisation and socio-political change.

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ID Code: 18637
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Knight, Alan & Bowman, Leo
Keywords: pan-Arab satellite television, democratisation, socio-political change, transnational satellite media, mass media
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 11 Mar 2009 04:57
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:52

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