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“Being Muslim” and “doing Muslim things”: How journalists implicate religion in their accounts of Muslim subjects

Munnik, Michael ORCID: 2016. “Being Muslim” and “doing Muslim things”: How journalists implicate religion in their accounts of Muslim subjects. Presented at: Society of Religion Study Group of the British Sociological Association, Lancaster, 12-14 July 2016.

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The news media comprise a key venue for anti-Muslim sentiment, sometimes called Islamophobia. Scholars attribute this trend to the language journalists use in news content on Muslims. A common complaint is that Islam is identified egregiously, in ways and to an extent that other religions are not. In this paper, I turn from news content to the producers of these texts, asking news workers when and how they identify sources and stories as Muslim. This analysis is based on micro-sociological qualitative field research examining relationships between journalists and Muslim sources in Glasgow, Scotland. Here, I focus on responses from journalists to the question of what, for them, counts as a Muslim source or story. Journalists showed a flexible use of the term ‘Muslim’, sometimes applying it in social and ethnic contexts rather than restricting its implication to religious contexts. Participants also used the term differently with regards to sources (people) and stories (events or issues): Muslim sources were less frequently connected to religious contexts than Muslim stories were. I account for this difference by distinguishing the public quality of news texts from the more private act of answering questions in a research interview. These findings give us a more fine-grained understanding of how journalists introduce religion to the public sphere in news coverage. They nuance the blanket assumptions of journalistic practice which are sometimes made in content analysis and equip scholars of religion to make a deeper investigation into reporting on religion and, specifically, Islam.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2022 09:59

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