Framing National Identity in Reflexive Modernity A Content Analysis Examination of Global Online News Channels Framing of the Saudi Political, Economic, and Cultural Identity

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ABDULSAMAD HADI MOHAMMED SAHLY
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Modernity has become a goal for every nation in this time of a globalized and connected world. Nevertheless, in the 21st century, modernity is inherently reflexive as nations have the sources and technologies to adopt their own identity and act upon it. Global media is a mirror of their national identity and social structure. Thus, this dissertation sets the scope to explore how global news media frames national identity in the context of reflexive modernity. This study examines the ways that global online news channels frame the Saudi transition to modernization, epitomizing Saudi Vision 2030. Guided by framing theory, this study explores how global online news channels (i.e., Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, RT, BBC, and CNN) have positioned the Saudi identity (i.e., avowal and ascription) and framed the structure of the Saudi identity (i.e., indulgence, restraint, certainty, uncertainty, thriving governance, and doomed governance). The study utilized a mixed-method content analysis of news articles (N = 584) that include paragraphs (N = 7846) from three years, April 25, 2016, to April 25, 2019. The study results indicated that global online news channels framed the Saudi cultural identity and political identity heterogeneously, but the Saudi economic identity was framed homogenously. The study’s findings revealed that the English online news channels positioned the Saudi cultural identity different from the Arabic online news channels. The Study also found that Al Jazeera-Arabic framed the Saudi national identity across all contexts differently compared to Al Arabiya-Arabic. The study also showed that uncertainty and restraint were used to frame the Saudi cultural and political identity, while human rights issues were the central theme for the framing process. The study concluded that, in reflexive modernity, global online news channels frame the national identity through three cues: Deviation (glocalization), Domination (interpretive community), and Hybridization (humanization). This study contributes to the literature on framing by providing a new measurable and replicable model—the national identity frame model. The study advances the literature on media framing by providing conceptual and operational definitions to bridge the gap between the micro and macro levels in the context of modernization and global identities.
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