Arab satellite broadcasting, identity and arab youth

Karam, I.N. (2007). Arab satellite broadcasting, identity and arab youth. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)

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Abstract

This thesis challenges a major theme found in Arab public discourse on youth, that the latter's consumption of television is passive in nature. Much discussion on Arab youth presupposes that the consequences of television for culture and identity are straight forward; that young people are merely passively absorbing materials that are offered. Contesting comments in Arab discourse on youth that to date have relied on unsystematic observation, this study adopts qualitative and quantitative research methods to produce more rigorous empirical data based on close contact with youths. The research recognises that youth (broadly between the ages of 16 and 27) constitutes the largest segment of society in the Arab world but equally, they experience particular disadvantages because of their position in a markedly patriarchal and traditional system. Despite forming such an important percentage of the population, Arab youths complain of low participation or representation in Arab public life, and few writings on Arab youth in Arabic offer insight into their lives, realities and aspirations. The thesis examines the relationship between media consumption and cultural identity, the theoretical framework of which is informed by the topics of concern that were most commonly raised in interviews, and which were ultimately focused on evaluating the satellite programming in relation to their own and others' youth identity. In doing so, the thesis aims to clarify the actual viewing patterns and reception amongst a broad sample of Arab youth. The fieldwork and its methodology, which was undertaken between 2004 and 2006 in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and the United Arab Emirates, represents one of the few studies within Arab youth that employs direct empirical evidence. The results expose actual youth opinions and concerns regarding satellite programming, how it caters for them, which programmes are the more successful for their needs, and how they perceive its impact on their culture and identity. The thesis also pays attention to the rather dichromatic discourses on the effects of globalization, and Westernization on Arab youth and nationalism, as these are the primary themes adopted by both critical and positive commentators. This research, however, demonstrates that the verbal warnings issued with regards to youth identity arc, in actual fact, rarely founded in reality. For example, it is not conditional that the consumption of entertainment on satellite broadcasting reduces national or religious identity amongst Arab youth. Eating at McDonald's, wearing jeans, or consuming Westcm-style TV programmes, does not necessarily make Arab youth any more pro- Western or Americanized nor less Arab or less nationalist.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Sociology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/8544

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