Journalism at the borders : the constitution of nationalist closure in news decoding
Sammanfattning: This dissertation is a contribution to the social analysis of nationalism. Its disciplinary context comprises the field of empirical studies that explore how forms of mediated quasi interaction can function in processes of reproduction and transformation of nationality. The study poses the question of how news journalism can establish national frames of reference within which social reality is made meaningful by citizens.The research design facilitates a novel contribution to a field of research that is largely dominated by analyses of media output. Two distinct but intertwined domains are empirically studied: news as a form of discourse and the moment of news decoding as a form of social interaction between readers and texts.The results from the empirical studies show that phenomena deemed undesirable by the prevailing moral order tend to be symbolically expelled from the national community that news audiences recognize as their own. As a conclusion, two sets of structures and mechanisms are identified as generative of this logic. Their joint articulation in news decoding can establish nationalist closure of meaning by connecting morality to nationality.First, certain established interpretive repertoires can be brought into play in the moment of decoding. These function ideationally to depict other nations and ethnic minorities pejoratively. Thus they indirectly give meaningful content to the nation and its majority population. The invocation of such frameworks of meaning tends to employ discursive resources from the news domain itself. This is a feature that ultimately reveals the subordination of news reception to elite news journalism as a knowledgeable institution.Second, as a textual system, news discourse can function interpersonally to establish a configuration of identities and relations between itself, the news consumer and other institutions and actors in society. In accordance with this configuration, the audience can incorporate the position of being citizens (in a moral sense) and national members (in a geopolitical or an ethnic sense). The character of these identities and relations is an effect of news journalism being an inherently national institution, and of the normative presuppositions built into the structure of news values itself.
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