What’s in a Frame? Cosmopolitan Morality, the Media and Interventionism
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This thesis examines the media-foreign policy nexus through a specific focus on the moral framing of conflict and interventionism within British media and policy discourses. While morality has been identified as a frequently used frame through which we may understand issues, there has been little extant discussion of the nature of morality embedded within media texts, or how it may shape understanding and policy-making. This research contributes to this void through forwarding cosmopolitan morality framing as a new theoretical framework. Consideration is given to how appeals to a cosmopolitan moral consciousness can resonate and build support for or legitimise particular foreign policies. The thesis further explores how cosmopolitan morality framing may work simultaneously to perpetuate uneven relations through constructed ‘othering’. Ontologically, the research adopts a social constructivist foundation and hermeneutical methodology, utilising frame analysis from the broader interpretivist tradition of discourse analysis as well as a holistic conceptualisation of the media. Data collection is spread across both traditional ‘mainstream’ and ‘new’ media, comprising print, online and social media sources. The sources examined include the British daily newspapers, The Guardian and The Times, the digital news site BBC News Online, and the global social media outlet Twitter. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) provides a regional focus to the research, with three recent conflicts in Libya, Syria and Iraq utilised as empirical case studies. The research focuses on specific ten day periods within each conflict to produce a snapshot of media frames and policy reaction. These periods include; the advance of pro-Gaddafi forces on Benghazi, Libya (9-19 March 2011), the chemical weapons attack on Ghouta, Syria (21-31 August 2013), and the siege of Sinjar by Islamic State forces in Iraq (3-13 August 2014). The research finds that notions of cosmopolitan morality are embedded within media/policy discourses to varying degrees, but are extremely significant when coupled with the cognitive and temporal capacity to impede crisis escalation.
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