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Syllabus Media and Discourse in Political Conflict - 50518
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Last update 10-09-2017
HU Credits: 2

Degree/Cycle: 2nd degree (Master)

Responsible Department: communication & journalism

Semester: 2nd Semester

Teaching Languages: English

Campus: Mt. Scopus

Course/Module Coordinator: Dr. Christian Baden

Coordinator Email:

Coordinator Office Hours: Wednesday 16-18

Teaching Staff:
Dr. Christian Baden

Course/Module description:
Communication plays a critical role for mobilizing mass support in violent conflict. Shaping and synchronizing the conflict perceptions of large and diverse groups, conflict discourse has been one of the prevalent venues of research, which has tried to unravel possible incendiary dynamics and protracted structures. In this class, we engage the rich scholarship on the discursive construction of conflict, focusing on the role of cultural beliefs, group identities, and their recurrent recreation in seemingly natural, everyday communications: How are in- and outgroups portrayed in the conflict? What are common ways for explaining violent events, and how do these relate to wider, commonly shared identities and belief systems? Focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we use discourse analytic strategies to identify relevant ideas in current conflict discourse, and assess their prevalence in different contexts, including other contemporary conflicts, in a comparative fashion. The class aims to advance participants’ understandings of the cultural and discursive underpinnings of conflict and violence.

Course/Module aims:
To study how discursive constructions shape our understanding of conflict, conflict-related events and behavior, and the involved conflict parties; to discuss the particular roles of everyday talk, media discourse, and specific deliberate constructions for justifying violence or facilitating non-violent conflict management; to develop small-scale research projects that investigate specific aspects of conflict discourse in an empirical fashion; to convey a basic understanding of discourse analytic research strategies and the use of automated text analysis tools for detecting meaningful patterns in language use.

Learning outcomes - On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
- Understand the intricate interactions between the manifest world, its discursive representation, and the resulting social reality
- Distinguish different kinds of discursive constructions and their role for shaping perceptions of conflict
- Contextualize present constructions against alternative possibilities, and understand the implications of choosing either variant
- Critically evaluate present discourse on conflict and recognize underlying agendas and distortions
- Perform basic discourse-analytic research, and use software tools to aid the investigation
- Design and conduct small-scale research projects based on the class content

Attendance requirements(%):

Teaching arrangement and method of instruction: lecture, class discussion, group projects, personal tutoring

Course/Module Content:
19.03.18 What you say is what you get? The social life of language
26.03.18 Tales of us and them: How discourse shapes conflict
09.04.18 This means war: The discourse of violence and escalation
16.04.18 Je suis Charlie: The discourse of unity
23.04.18 A new chapter: The discourse of rapprochement
30.04.18 Live from the current crisis: Journalistic conflict discourse
07.05.18 I’m all for peace, but…: The everyday discourse of conflict
21.05.18 Researching discourse I: Introduction to Discourse Analysis
28.05.18 Researching discourse II: JAmCAT & the INFOCORE corpus
04.06.18 The sane and the crazy: Discourse polarization
11.06.18 Hang ‘em: The discourse of radicalization
18.06.18 Presentation of projects I
25.06.18 Presentation of projects II

Required Reading:
Gavriely-Nuri, D. (2008). The ‘metaphorical annihilation’ of the Second Lebanon War (2006) from the Israeli political discourse. Discourse & Society, 19(1), 5-20.
Leudar, I., Marsland, V. & Nekvapil, J. (2004). On membership categorization: ‘Us’, ‘them’, and ‘doing violence’ in political discourse. Discourse & Society, 15(2-3), 243-266.
Steuter, E., & Wills, D. (2010). ‘The vermin have struck again’: dehumanizing the enemy in post 9/11 media representations. Media, War & Conflict, 3(2), 152-167.
Finlay, W. M. L. (2007). The propaganda of extreme hostility: Denunciation and the regulation of the group. British Journal of Social Psychology, 46(2), 323-341.
Cameron, L. J. (2007). Patterns of metaphor use in reconciliation talk. Discourse & Society, 18(2), 197-222.
Liebes, T. & Kampf, Z. (2009). Black and white and shades of gray: Palestinians in the Israeli media during the 2nd Intifada. International Journal of Press/Politics, 14(4), 434-453.
Potter, J. & Reicher, S. (1987). Discourses of community and conflict: The organization of social categories in accounts of a ‘riot’. British Journal of Social Psychology, 26, 25-40.
Wetherell, M., & Potter, J. (1988). Discourse Analysis and the identification of interpretative repertoires. In C. Antaki (Ed.), Analysing everyday explanation: A casebook of methods (pp. 168-183).
Baden, C. & Stalpouskaya, K. (2010). Common methodological framework - Content Analysis: A mixed-methods strategy for comparatively, diachronically analyzing conflict discourse. INFOCORE Working Paper 2015/10. Sage.
McCaffrey, D., & Keys, J. (2000). Competitive framing processes in the abortion debate: Polarization-vilification, frame saving, and frame debunking. The Sociological Quarterly, 41(1), 41-61.
van Stekelenburg, J., Oegema, D., & Klandermans, B. (2010). No radicalization without identification: How ethnic Dutch and Dutch Muslim web forums radicalize over time. In A. E. Azzi, X. Chryssouchoou, B. Klandermans, & B. Simon (Eds.), Identity and participation in culturally diverse societies. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Additional Reading Material:
Will be specified in a more detailed syllabus handed out to class registrants.

Course/Module evaluation:
End of year written/oral examination 0 %
Presentation 0 %
Participation in Tutorials 0 %
Project work 25 %
Assignments 0 %
Reports 0 %
Research project 50 %
Quizzes 0 %
Other 25 %
Participation in class discussion

Additional information:
Students needing academic accommodations based on a disability should contact the Center for Diagnosis and Support of Students with Learning Disabilities, or the Office for Students with Disabilities, as early as possible, to discuss and coordinate accommodations, based on relevant documentation.
For further information, please visit the site of the Dean of Students Office.