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Petrina Doyle

Petrina Doyle, PhD Student (BA, MA Queen’s University Belfast)


“The Struggle for Hegemony: Analysing British Print Media Coverage of the war in Iraq”

The aim of my thesis is to explore how media discourses, between 9/11 and the start of the war in Iraq, normalised government rhetoric on war, giving credibility to the government’s case for war, and thus giving the decision to go to war its perceived legitimacy.

I do not propose that the media has a direct causal influence on governments or the public. Instead, focusing on seven newspapers in the UK, I will use qualitative discourse analysis to identify, understand and explain the dominant trends in media discourses on the war in Iraq following 9/11. This methodological approach is both guided by and appropriate to the theoretical framework I will be using, which draws on Antonio Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony.  This theory contends that the media and the government, operating hegemonically, jointly reproduced key pro-war discourses that served both their interests in maintaining the status quo. In applying this analogy to the war in Iraq, I argue that the media during this time, in their struggle to maintain hegemony, demonstrated a pro-war bias at critical junctures in the lead up to the war and in the early stages of the war itself, which gave legitimacy to the decision to invade by making the justifications outlined by the government seem credible.

Areas of Research

My research interests are interdisciplinary, focusing primarily on the intersection between politics and culture. I am interested in the politics of the media, and specifically media representations of ethnic and international conflicts; issues of identity and representation; terrorism and government counter-terrorism legislation; international relations; and contemporary British politics. I also have an interest in green politics.
Supervisors: Dr Debbie Lisle; Dr Keith Breen