Media, security and multicultural citizenship: a collaborative ethnography

Gillespie, Marie (2007). Media, security and multicultural citizenship: a collaborative ethnography. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 10(3) pp. 275–294.



This special issue reports on a collaborative UK research project which examined how new security challenges are constituted in the intersecting relationships between political and military actors, news producers, news representations and discourses, and news audiences. This article introduces the ethnographic reports which follow, and describes the theoretical premises and methodological strategies of the research. It outlines an innovative, multi-disciplinary methodology - `Integrated Multidisciplinary Media Analysis' - which integrates Collaborative Media Ethnography (a novel method in itself) with institutional and textual analysis. This combination of mutually informing approaches affords unique insights into social and cultural processes. The research process began with explorations of how public knowledge and understanding of security issues relate to and are shaped by everyday cultures of media practice, the subject of the following reports. Combined with the findings of researchers investigating the perceptions and working practices of security-policy and media professionals, and others working on the textual analysis of salient news broadcasts, our study reaches three main conclusions. First, that ritualized interactions between policymakers, journalists and 'citizen audiences' constitute the media-security nexus as a 'battlespace' of mutual disrespect and suspicion. Second, that this exacerbates the marginalization and racialization of many ethnic minority groups but in particular British Muslims, who face declining prospects for multicultural citizenship. Third, that security policymakers must struggle to find public legitimacy in view of the growing scepticism and hostility of national and diasporic news media and audiences.

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