This Dissertation is looking at political vs economic media coverage of the middle east.
There hasn’t been a vast amount of research on my specific topic and therefore this dissertation aims to fill that gap in the literature. However there is valuable research and literature available that I can use to aid the study and fundamentally answer my research question; My research question is “How does the economist cover political and financial affairs of the UAE?”. Appropriate literature for this study can be political and economic literature regarding the middle east, This could be articles journals or books.
Since the Arab spring the middle east has been a prosperous but volatile region, the literature on this topic is varied but in all gives insights into scholars views and opinions on the matters within the Middle East.Firstly, Laura Guazzone’s “The Middle East in global change” She aims to answer two main questions. Firstly, how is change in the post cold war international system influencing change within the middle east.
The second question. How is change in the middle east influencing and shaping the new international system? This is relevant to my study because Guazzone’s literature analyses the middle easts political sphere and coin tee balances that with the economic spectrum of success within the region. She starts by mentioning the new international system of “Multi level interdependence” (Guazzone,L pp XI).
Addressing US NATO as unipolar power at the top of the political sphere, in the Middle, USA, Europe and Japan as the tripolar system, and then the Middle East located at the bottom as a “transnational power”. She highlights the budding nature of finance and economics in the region and ability of economics to shape the international power relations. Especially within the Middle east and Africa. She states that “the worlds stability seems to be increasingly determined by the struggle for the control of global markets and resources” This is fundamental research to my dissertation and I agree with this view that the worlds stability does infect revolve around money and financial stability. However Guazzone hints upon the possibility off creating sustainable balance between globalisation and localism and could be the catalyst in the ever evolving relationship between religion and politics in the region.
Guazzone, answers her first question decisively, by stating that the impact of international trends on the middle east is significant, and can be seen in the beginning of the transformation of the region from warfare to a welfare system. That is from a system based on power relations to a system based on interdependence. However there is a key issue in Guazzone’s literature, and that is the relationship between the opportunities of the middle east interdependence and the constraints dictated by other elements, such as “political cultures and systems, prospects for military and social conflicts macroeconomic tendencies, new geopolitical rivalries and policies of major domestic and international actors”. In this book Norton’s analysis concentrates on specific factors, such as the tole of the military, religion and civil society, and their effect on the transition from authorities to democratic political systems. Furthermore Salem takes a historical perspective upon review of the main Arab political currents economically and politically. Joffe also adopts a historical perspective and acknowledges the geographical resources offered to the middle east and the positive and negative effects it has on its economic and political spectrum.
It is important to note the analysis by Choucri, that puts the issue of population movements, crucial intersections between economy and politics in a specific middle eastern perspective.Moving on a key pice of literature that will be helpful in aiding my study by Rao Shakuntala and Seow Ting Lee focuses on the globalisation of media ethics among international political journalists. “Globalisation media ethics an assessment of universal ethics among international political journalists” Shakuntala et al 2012. The article reports how the journalists of the middle east and Asia categorise professional values and the impact of of a potential universal ethics code within the media.
This ethics code is suggested to make reporting within the middle east clear and more ethical, and therefore is relevant to the study because we can apply the ethics code to the Political VS Economic affairs reported by the British media. Despite no specific example being the UAE Shakuntala highlights the scepticism of an ethics code imposed by Westerners, However, the conclusion is that a core set of values would be beneficial for the media correspondence of the middle east. Media perspective literature is important for my study to crucially analyse the reasons behind why the media is running certain stories. Shakuntala highlights the ethics that are reported by the media and the disparities between economic and political media coverage. Alongside the Shakuntala et al articles. F. Gregory Gause III. Wrote a journal “Why Middle East studies missed the Arab spring”.
The myth of authoritarian stability. This journal goes deep in to understanding, the political sphere of the Middle East and how it operates within the parameters of the west. Gregory suggests that the Middle East’s state controlled economy was a pillar of stability for there countries that adopted it, Gregory suggests that the middle east has been under estimated and that Middle East specialists “have rethinking to do” most specifically about the effects of economic change and political stability.
Another journal that has relevance but counter argues the points of Shakuntala et al. Michael Herb’s journal (2009) “A nation of Bureaucrats: Political participation and economic diversification in Kuwait and the UAE”. Herb’s journal highlights the interest the USA had in Oil and how the Oil has had an effect on the way the Media portrays the UAE, and has shared the political sphere in the UAE. However it goes on to state that the media’s financial success coverage of the UAE has reduced the local culture and values of the UAE by attracting foreign investment due to the lifestyle on offer. Herb concludes by stating that the Political Vs Economic debate is imbalanced when it comes to the way the western world sees it. Herb’s Journal used interviews as a strategy of data collection. And therefore within his primary evidence there is a chance that the information gained is nit directly valid. Due to the political authorities within the UAE it is difficult to acquire politically damning information within the UAE due to the autocratic style of ruling in the region.
However, from the contemporary study of Herb, and first hand experience myself, I would align myself with Herb’s account, that the wealth in the Middle East has reduced the culture and historical values of the UAE and that this in fact is not being relayed by the British media. There are only really 3 parts of the Middle East that ever gets covered here in the UK. The wealth, Political Issues and War. As highlighted by Herb, and therefore this study will aim to evaluate why and how it could be possible to change this. The Arab Spring is a key event in Middle East political history and will undoubtably have an effect on my study. If we look at the Middle East political sphere there is opportunity for political reforms created by the Arab Spring.
However, a major political event like this can also have a dangerous effect on financial markets through volatility because of its economic and social implications. On the one hand, the Arab spring provides an opportunity for the Middle Eastern countries to create a more clear and effective political sphere that would be able to utilise their economic potential. However on the other hand, political uncertainty caused by the spring could imbed itself in the financial markets and volatile reactions causing reduced international investor confidence in the region. It is, therefore, fundamental and revealing to examine whether these political movements have indeed changed the political, social, and financial landscape of the Middle East countries. Several studies have looked at the effects of Arab Spring on the economic performance as well as the social or political sphere (O’Sullivan et al. 2012; World Bank, 2011).
However, it remains reasonably unclear whether, and more importantly to what extent, the recent political unrest has affected the overall financial state of the region. Given the growing importance of Middle Eastern countries in the world economy in general there is an increasing need for advanced research to examine the effects of Arab Spring conflicts in order to further determine the relationship between political uncertainty and financial volatility. Furthermore, the results of the study are of primary importance to the financial sovereigns and policymakers who wish to use the function of major political events in catalysing financial movement. This study shows whilst increasing evidence is showing that standard economic variables perform poorly in showing financial movements and political uncertainty is emerging as a new outlet to explore the forces driving market movements (Erb et al., 1996; Mei and Guo, 2004). This is different to most of the previous studies regarding fincanial voltlity within the middle east as they have been primarily regarding political events such as presidential elections, military invasions wars and terrorists attacks. Another piece of Important literature, is by Gadi Wolfsfeld, titled Media and Political conflict: News from the Middle East. Wolfsfeld proposes a theory called the “political contest model the premise of this model is that the best way to understand the role of the news media in politics is to view the competition over the news media as part of a larger and more significant contest among political antagonists for political control” (Wolfsfeld.
G 1997). Wolfsfeld moves on to state that the media is directly effected by the the political and Economic affairs. He states that when the authorities succeed in dominating the political sphere, the news media find it difficult to play an independent role. However to counter this, if the authorities lack or lose control it provides the media with a much greater and broader array of sources and perspectives. As highlighted above by Herb. In the UAE this case is relevant, this aligns itself with his argument that even though authorities have a significant advantage and control over the quantity and quality of the media coverage, many of the media outlets can overcome the set obstacles and use the media as a counter tool for political influence. Moreover Wolfsfeld also argues that the role of the media in political conflicts varies over time (As seen in the middle east).
He goes as far as stating that the media gets scrutinised no matter what approach it adopts, and highlights Vietnam and Lebanon, where the media was accused of being “saboteurs” who undermined the military efforts through biased anti-government reporting. All in all, the book resides itself in a place that suggests a media process that is neither, consistent or clear when covering the middle east. The major challenge is between the authorities and the “challengers” over the media and one that is directly relevant to my study. Globalisation is a key theme occurring throughout the literature covering the middle east and the media coverage between the economy vs politics. The next piece of literature I looked at was by Clement Moore Henry and Robert Springborg “Globalisation and the politics of development in the Middle East”. Unlike the above literature, media takes a back seat role in the fundamentals of the book, however is relevant as the premise behind it is the politics and economics of the Middle East. Henry et al, are convinced that globalisation is the starting point for understanding the economic and political change and preferences within the middle east. The main study of the book centralises itself around the structures of the state and civil society that “channel the reactions to globalisation from different social forces”.
Most particularly the vitality of civil special and the role of the financial systems, the private components of which create the material resources that hold up civil society. Because of this they pay particular attention to the financial systems and the issues they cause for the political elites while providing them with opportunities to benefit from globalisation. Despite not directly being relevant to the media and its position when covering the Middle East. It does however produce a new angle to argue why the media focuses more on the financial aspects of the middle east rather than the political ones.
The research by Henry finds a correlation between economic performance and the degree of democracy that is noticeable in the Middle East. Their research in my opinion suggests that liberalisation and democratisation, would benefit the Middle East. Springborg introduces us to the idea of Islamicisation. A theory I plan on adopting and exploring further in my study. In Springborgs eyes, Islamicisation and suggests that alongside globalisation there is room for political change within the region, that I turn would also benefit the economy and even suggest at the prospect of a media shift in ideologies. All in All Henry and Springborg have researched the base material needed to build my dissertation upon, their economic and political literature that will be noted further in this study. Media Literature is also key within my dissertation study.
One key piece is “Manufacturing consent: The political Economy of the Mass media” The book centres itself around a “propaganda model”. This attempts to explain the performance of the media in simple situations in which they operate. It is highlighted that it his one of the medias functions to be a propaganda tool for the powers than finance the media outlets. The propaganda model suggests that the media is controlled by those that own them, and that the owners are tactically placed to “shape and constrain” media policy. Herman et al go on to analyse that the introduction of the internet and “new communication technologies are breaking the corporate stranglehold on journalism” and opens an unprecedented era of interactive democratic media. This is in contrast to the views above. Especially that of Shakuntala and Herb.
Overall this study states that it would be a mistake to suggest that media users only watch the “increasingly commercialised media” and that the gradual erosion of the public sphere reflects the preferences and choices of the citizens and consumers. It concludes that the public is not covering over the media. However the propaganda model states that if the citizens are not receiving the media information then it is because the owners choose not to offer the material. Before I conclude, the published material by Jack G. Shaheen, Media Coverage of the Middle East: Perception and boring policy.
Shaheen states that the Media portrays the Arab regions and people as “ingrained in American culture” and continues to fuel the conflict in the region. It highlights that there are vehicles of media that are being used to fuel the conflict, such as Television, films and written literature. Shaheen even goes as far to state that the current financial and political media of the Middle East is misleading and quote “the stereotypical images” may affect the formation of political and economic policy. Shaheen concludes that in order to balance out the middle east the media needs to become less “false” and offer more truthful and realistic information. To conclude, There is a diverse collection of literature that I have mentioned. However there is limited directly correlating pieces to my study. However, we can see that there are relationships between each piece mentioned above. The media on the Middle East by Wolfsfeld, Guazzone, Henry et al.
There is a clear trend that the middle east is in conflict between economic and political policies. This is noticed within the ethics study by Shakuntala et al. The media has always been hesitant in its approach to the middle east and that isn’t helped by the domestic volatility within the Middle East. This alongside the literature ion the media and media ethics, where there is a clear agreement between scholars, that the owners of the media outlets are the ones who fundamentally determine who sees what and what information and material is broadcasted.
Overall, it is vital to remember that the Middle East is a volatile region and the media coverage shows that, however from the literature examined there is clearly a gap that is not showing some political successes and issues, this study will aim to tie the two together and fill the gap in the literature.