Mechanisms of fear. The mass media’s construction of the terrorist threat – an intercultural comparison (108)

 

Individuals and groups react to events which they interpret as threats with fear and anxiety. In the Western world at present it is the activities of Islamicist terrorist groups that are seen as the main threat, while in the Islamic world the interventions of mainly Western countries with little foundation in international law are interpreted as “state terrorism”. These perceived threats can lead to the mobilization of broad sections of the population and to the (de)legitimizing of globally effective policies. The perceptions and interpretations of threats are generally not the product of direct experience, but are disseminated by the mass media, which are the main institutions engaged in the articulation of threat and fear. Against this background the proposed project will provide a comparative analysis of the media coverage of terrorist threats in Western and Islamic countries. The threats presented by the mass media – notably television – and the emotionalization strategies involved are to be identified from a comparative cultural perspective.

Publications

Gerhards, J., Schäfer, M. S., Al Jabiri, I., Seifert, J. (2011). Terrorismus im Fernsehen. Formate, Inhalte und Emotionen im westlich-arabischen Vergleich. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.