"Three Young Girls" : A Case Study of Mediatization of Religion and National Identity in the Online Reception of Halal-TV
Abstract: The Swedish national narrative regarding religion often highlights the 2000 separation of the Church of Sweden from the state and a steady decline in religiosity within the population. However, increased immigration since the end of the Second World War has resulted in rising religious diversity, particularly in the growth of Islam as a minority religion. As members of a minority group, Muslim women often face issues concerning their representation in the media, frequently connecting the women’s identities to debates about immigration, religion, and feminism in Sweden. Through understanding the role religion plays within the conceptualization of Swedish national identity, it becomes possible to then analyze how discourse about Muslim women in the media is associated with ideas of representation, religion, and national identity. In studying the discourse around the 2008 television program Halal-TV, newspaper articles about the program and the articles’ corresponding comment fields reveal recurring themes about media representation, perceptions of national belonging and diversity, and attitudes towards minority groups like Muslim women. In conducting a critical discourse analysis of the online discourse through the lens of postcolonial feminism, media reception theory is used as a theoretical framework to illustrate how the online discussions about Halal-TV constitute a public sphere on issues of sameness and diversity, media representation, and religion in Sweden. This case study thus acts as a glimpse into the concurrent Swedish society and media institutions’ approaches towards religious and cultural diversity and representation in the public broadcasting media.
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