Human Rights and Media: Volume 6

Cover of Human Rights and Media

Table of contents

(16 chapters)

The Studies in Communications book series presents contemporary scholarship on the central dynamic of society – communications. Theoretically grounded empirical studies drawn from the social sciences focus on the institutional patterns, media, and the dynamic process of meaning construction. Incorporating communications, mass media and communications, sociological and critical theories, comparative and historical analysis, with combinations of qualitative and quantitative research provide compelling themes for each volume of the series. Volume 6 develops the “Human Rights and Media” theme. The collective rights associated with age, class, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, and disability are framed by the media. The studies in this volume explore the connections and discourse of media and human rights, through media production, social policies and responsibilities, human rights violation and the social, institutional, and global contexts of social movements for human rights protections and about human rights violations.

A sociology of human rights is a modern challenge, and this study draws on the universalizing codification in the history of human rights documents from ancient societies to the present challenges of modern society. Power contradictions and conflicts are analyzed in the case study of historic inequalities and the modern deprivation of human rights of the People of Indian Origin in their diaspora in the modern world. Insider perspectives are posed to increase awareness and knowledge to the forming of community identity and to challenge others to study these complex social conditions. A public sociology is assumed in this chapter, derived from the author's public speech to further the development of a sociology of human rights, one that will reflect the complexity, universality, and inclusiveness protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Established methods and theories may be augmented by challenging their bases and working collaboratively to research contemporary human rights.

The theory of the civilizing process, first introduced by sociologist Norbert Elias, refers to the process by which aggressiveness becomes “domesticated” through an individual's or community's adoption of civilized codes of conduct and patterns of social behavior. From the perspective of this theory, fundamental civil liberties and human rights, as defined in the European Convention for Human Rights, can be seen as an essential catalyst in the civilizing process. Human rights is a topic high on the agenda of many international and non-governmental organizations. Yet little is known about the way that these organizations operate in their aims to further the universalism of human rights, and in particular with regard to human rights and the media. The Council of Europe (CoE) is a major non-governmental organization involving dozens of countries from around the world, and it plays a major role in political bargaining with nations. In addition to the CoE's commitment to human rights, it devotes considerable resources to investigate and document developments in the media as well as human rights violations in its member countries, it takes measures to sanction countries that are in violation of its codes, and it sets forth a policy agenda for the future. In this chapter, the author has drawn on his experiences as a member of the parliamentary Assembly of the CoE, interviews with journalists, judges, and politicians, and the reports of the CoE, to explain the work of the CoE in the area of human rights and the media. The chapter begins by making the argument that the theory of the civilizing process elaborated by Elias, providing important insights into understanding the role of the CoE in the area of human rights and the media. In conclusion, a critical assessment of the role of international organizations and their efforts to further the development human rights particularly in the field of journalism and the media is offered.

Using a critical perspective, this study reviews human rights and media in the context of capitalist empire, using Habermas' notion that capitalism offers formal but not substantive democracy. The author draws the reader into an impassioned discussion of the failure of government and media to address the significant inequalities in the world and the resulting human rights violations to demonstrate that human rights encompass concerns about economic and social inequalities as well as political and civil rights. Criticism of how capitalism treats rights has been part of the international human rights conversation since World War II.

Increasing human rights violations in the world today and the mass media's evidentiary lack of interest in the sources of these social problems underlie the author's earnest search for a better way. The study draws from the social science literature, while observing and gathering data on media coverage. Data limitations on media human rights indicate further research by the author that would explain the ideology and rhetoric as well as historic shifting patterns.

This chapter focuses on the selective news coverage and propaganda that preceded and followed the 9/11/01 event, using a model of news coverage or War Programming developed by the first author in earlier work. The ordered sequence of activities in War Programming begins from reportage and visual reports on the most recent war to the reports on the next war. The model is applied to the Iraq war to enhance our theoretical capacity to explain modern propaganda and the resultant lack of focus on human rights. By analyzing the news media context and organizational reasons for propaganda, the authors find a predictable war story was told by mainstream media, which omitted from the story a focus upon human rights violations. The authors develop the contention that a new approach is needed to offer critique before the event of war. Media framing and formats must change if future wars, aided by propaganda, are to be avoided.

The breakup of Yugoslavia and the development of conflict and massacres from 1991 to 1993 was widely reported in the West, in contrast with prior patterns of denial, concealment of evidence, lack of recognition, misperception, and avoidance of massacres and genocides since World War II. The chapter addresses reasons why bystanders did not intervene to stop the genocide and check war crimes by asking how the situation was framed by an influential segment of the press. An intensive content analysis in nine leading U.S. newspapers revealed that a majority of articles conformed to moral obligation and rational choice models. The study concludes with a critique of political will for action and the position that it was not the direct influence of the media, which reflected rather than refined perceptions and the recognition of genocide.

Cyprus, a small island state in the far eastern corner of the Mediterranean, is an appropriate example of modernising states faced with the influx of Media pluralism and all the boons of a rich age of information communication systems, while its indigenous political problems remain unsolved. The invasion of Cyprus by Turkish troops in 1974 and the dichotomy of the land, with Turkish-Cypriots occupying and living in the Northern part and Greek-Cypriots living in the southern part of the island, has created a state in transition, from nationalism to internationalism, from the stage of ethnic cleavage to the stage of modernisation and globalisation. Media pluralism with the proliferation of imported programmes is another dimension in the life of the island. The ethnic/national issues, together with the content of television programmes, were the subject of the present study among youth. The discourses in these issues are presented through the three stages of the research conducted: the statistical research survey, the discourse analysis of 5 out of the top 10 programmes popular among the sample and the 23 interviews and 2 group discussions conducted with members of the sample. The results establish a relationship between television and national/ethnic issues and opens areas of research on television/media discourses about human rights, identity and nationality in an age of globalisation. The world may be sharing images, but individual countries are called upon to face internal national and political realities.

The resolution of the slavery issue in the United States may have had more to do with economic development and political power than a shift in public morality, but there can be no question that abolitionist discourse played a major role in the expansion of America's republican vision in the nineteenth century. In the human rights discourse of the black abolitionists, ideological conflict centers on the dimensions of reification and fragmentation. Potential answers to the rights question – who is to be included in the American republic? – involve contentious claims about group identities. To examine systematically the strategic use of the jeremiad as a human rights argument in the black abolitionist discourse, this research produced a content analysis study of the antebellum black press in New York State. The findings present the hegemonic discourse and the case that the human rights argument could not have been made without simultaneously undermining the hegemonic view. The black abolitionist discourse in antebellum New York State was the first American experience with the jeremiad as a human rights argument and would not be the last.

The purpose of this study is to provide a reflective and evaluative review of photographic practice by the author on the topic of human rights violation/child labor. Visual methods and collaboration with children's rights researchers and advocates produced work from four regions including Africa, South Asia, South America, and Northeastern Europe. The human rights framework of the ILO establishes child rights standards and this analysis discusses findings from the field, human rights implications, and raises the broad issue of social and professional responsibilities.

The rise of the Internet has facilitated net activism among many virtual gay communities in Taiwan. The communication role that the Internet plays is in particular vital, because homosexuality is still considered a taboo in Taiwan's society. Cyberspace created by the Internet forms a unique “space” where local homosexuals can share their experience of being gays with each other. The purposes of this chapter are intended to examine how the Internet facilitated the formation, promotion, and success of gay rights movements among homosexual communities in Taiwan. This chapter uses the Chang-Der Street Police Harassment Incident as a case study to elaborate the Internet's communication role in mobilizing local gay populations to pursue their gay rights. It also investigates the Internet's strategic role as a communication medium in gay rights movements. The case analysis and in-depth interviews help identify several key functions that the Internet can play: to exchange and share information, to organize and coordinate gay rights movements, to record and store historical information, and to lead social and value changes in the future. This chapter explores the potential of the Internet in online community mobilization, an early look at virtual community and net activism.

The research for this study engages and assesses the relationship of the media from the 20th to the 21st century, combining scholar activism and public leadership in the disability rights movement. Having chronicled the disability rights movement from its roots, this chapter presents the discourse of media and movement, sampling mainstream media along with the advocacy and alternative media in support of disability rights. A range of media forms are engaged from advocacy bulletins to mainstream news media to public broadcasts that represent the diversity and complexity of the movement as it continues into the 21st century, pressing for the universalism of human rights for all.

David L. Altheide is Emeritus Regents’ Professor in the School of Justice and Social Inquiry at Arizona State University. Using qualitative methodology, his work has focused on the role of mass media and information technology for social control. His two most recent books are: Terrorism and the Politics of Fear (Alta Mira, 2006) and Terror Post 9/11 and the Media (Lang, 2009). The former work as well as Creating Fear: News and the Construction of Crisis (Aldine/Transaction, 2002) received the Cooley Award as the best books for the year in the tradition of symbolic interaction, from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. Dr. Altheide also won this award in 1986 for his book Media Power, and he is the 2005 George Herbert Mead Award recipient for lifetime contributions from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction.

Cover of Human Rights and Media
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Book series
Studies in Communications
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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