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Media and Citizenship: Transnational Television Cultures Reshaping Political Identity in the European Union

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Transnational media shaping political landscapes

In Europe, concerns surrounding Islamic fundamentalism have set Muslim communities at the heart of political and media debates. Researchers investigated how Arabic language television affects integration in multicultural societies and the political landscapes of citizenship.

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While globalisation creates spaces of mixed cultures, a globalised media infrastructure is simultaneously creating transnational viewer ships and shaping the public sphere. This is reflected across a range of levels and stakeholder groups, given that although models of democratic participation are still based on the nation state, political debate transcends those boundaries. In this context, the MEDIA AND CITIZENSHIP project represents the first Europe-wide study on how transnational television culture — a shared public sphere for Muslim communities — reshapes political identity in the EU. Funded by the EU, the project team collected data in the capital cities of Germany, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Focus group studies were carried out in these countries and in Cyprus to explore how Arab language speakers construct citizenship in the light of their media use and their host cultures. Using surveys, television diaries and focus groups, MEDIA AND CITIZENSHIP collected data (both quantitative and qualitative) on television viewing behaviour, media perception and understanding of citizenship in Arabic-speaking communities. Another area of focus was citizenship-testing regimes, with regard to assumed media content and perceptions of Arabic-speaking citizens. A series of public engagement events were organised to discuss the findings with the communities and to involve them in influencing policy at national and European levels. Project partners also produced a short documentary presenting their results. The documentary showed the public events in each country and snippets of the daily life situation of Arab language speakers in the European capitals researched, and showcased commentary by experts in the field of media and citizenship. Knowledge gained from MEDIA AND CITIZENSHIP research and other project activities will support the development of policy advice on issues relating to the media and its regulation. Project results have policy implications in the areas of media and convergence, media literacy, cultural citizenship and immigration policy.

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