A. van Heelsum
- The relationship between media discourses and experiences of belonging
- Dutch Somali perspectives
- Volume | Issue number
- 16 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This article explores the relationship between media discourses and experiences of belonging. Studies on Muslims and the media have suggested that there is a largely negative discourse about Muslims in Western countries. As a result, the ‘othering’ processes that occur in the media may impact how Muslim citizens experience their individual attachments to society. We use excerpts from focus group interviews with Somalis in the Netherlands1 to investigate how they look upon, counter or internalize media discourses that seem to depict them in a negative way, particularly because they are Muslims. The findings indicate that discriminative discourses create a plurality of outcomes for our participants. Whereas all perceive a negative debate, some discursively ‘join’ a global Muslim community as a result, while others try their best to avoid association with a worldwide Muslim alliance and emphasize within-group variances. Though the opposing reactions might seem contradictory, we argue that both responses counter the same problems: ‘othering’ and victimization. Thereby we give voice to Somalis who are not often heard, while at the same time adding to the theoretical understanding of ‘othering’ processes.
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