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Representations of Muslim Women in the Quebec News Print Media

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Representations of Muslim Women in the Quebec News Print Media

Pichette, Amanda (2012) Representations of Muslim Women in the Quebec News Print Media. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Between 2006-2007 in Quebec the passage of a controversial code of conduct in the rural municipality of Hérouxville cast the debate over Reasonable Accommodation into the media spotlight. The question of integrating minorities and immigrants into pluralistic Quebec society has provoked discussions over the fragility of Quebec identity. A social crisis has been linked to the delicate majority status that Quebecois now enjoy in the province. Some Quebecois conceive that Muslim beliefs and practices threaten the social cohesion of their society based on fundamental values such as gender equality, secularism and tolerance. This social discourse effectively reinforces their identity of a tolerant superior group vis-à-vis the “Other” which must be either tolerated or “civilized” in order to accept and learn the contemporary way of life in Quebec society. Taken together, Quebec is engaging in a deep soul-searching as claims of racism, xenophobia and intolerance rise to the surface of the ongoing debate over the accommodation of difference.
The role of the media was central in turning the Reasonable Accommodation debate into a social crisis. The strategies and framing employed by the print media along with the selective coverage of certain issues caused polarization between minority and majority groups My inquiry asks: does a critical textual analysis of the news print media’s representations of Muslim women reveal a subtle racialized discourse? I invoke an Orientalist lens to show how racializing discourses manifest in a guarded subtext over the preservation of Quebec identity which effectually reinforces hierarchical relations between a dominant group and subordinate group. My methodology employs a critical textual analysis of 12 Gazette and La Presse news print articles in order to uncover the deeper and more nuanced implied meaning of negative dichotomization (Us-Them), inferiorization and demonization of the Other, the desire to expel the Other, along with feeling of victimization and generalization about an entire group. Identified as discursive mechanisms, this research situates and anchors the implied meaning of the representations of Muslim women in the particular historical experience of Quebecois and their distinct language and culture. My analysis reveals instances of a subtle, hidden, new form of racism which is less explicit than traditional forms of racism once were. Some of the media processes and framing which are identified allowed the reasonable accommodation debates to degenerate into a state of “moral panic” . I demonstrate that Muslim women are marginalized and discriminated against on the basis of their race, gender and cultural identity. Essentially, the news print media creates damaging portrayals of Muslim women in an effort to insulate a protectionist nature in Quebec that buttresses a conviction that these representations are universal which are in fact stereotypical and mythical.
In order to counter these negative portrayals students must be taught how to think critically about the media and develop the appropriate media literacy tools so that they can understand what social equity means among varying ethnocultural groups. In an effort to decentre the dominant, white identity, developing a critical pedagogy within an anti-racism framework enables students to recognize stereotypical imagery and discrimination and at the same time it educates students about the normativity of whiteness and its powerful entrenchment in schools.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Pichette, Amanda
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Educational Studies
Date:December 2012
Thesis Supervisor(s):Barakett, Joyce
ID Code:974063
Deposited By:AMANDA PICHETTE
Deposited On:19 Jun 2012 14:27
Last Modified:19 Jun 2012 14:27
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