Al-Jazeera, intellectuals, and the deconstruction of social realities
This thesis analyzes the processes of framing that took place within a matrix comprising influential intellectuals, a potent Arab media outlet whose audience amounts to tens of millions of Arab spectators, and the vibrant social movements calling for political change in Egypt and Libya in 2011. It explores the various forms of meaning construction carried out by al-Jazeera and the intellectuals it regularly hosted to comment on the uprisings in both countries as they occurred. By addressing two case studies defined by different contextualizing variables, the thesis illustrates how al-Jazeera’s commentators were part and parcel of the network’s output and its daily engagement with its audiences. The thesis examines the means through which these intellectuals capitalized on the channel’s powerful broadcast imagery to articulate their interpretations of the unfolding uprisings and propose alternative political possibilities. It argues that the network’s intricate processes of meaning construction rendered it an institutional organic intellectual with an ability to communicate persuasive messages and accordingly incite mass mobilization. It also contends that al-Jazeera’s attempts to void long-sustained regime legitimacies, by countering their narratives and critically engaging with their political rationale, have contributed to redesigning political realities in the cases under study.