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MCM 413 Research Methods in Mass Communication
Group Assignment Report: Quantitative Content Analysis
Instructor: Kristoffer Holt
Comparison of attitudes towards domestic workers in Kuwaiti Arabic and English newspapers
Table of Contents
Domestic workers make up 14% of the Kuwaiti population and 23.3% of the working class, and yet their rights and methods of treatment are debated daily. It is considered a societal norm for Kuwaiti homes to employ at least one domestic worker, although many homes employ more. The Kuwaiti society depends largely on the hard work served by domestic workers in their homes. They perform tasks such as cleaning the house, cooking for the family, taking care of children, and other household chores. As members of the Kuwaiti society, we know that despite domestic workers having an integral role in each Kuwaiti home, the general public’s attitudes towards these helpers are that of disdain and contempt. This begs the question ‘do Kuwaiti newspapers reflect these attitudes in the news? And how are Kuwaitis being represented to the rest of the world?’ This research studies bias in Kuwaiti newspapers and analysis how language plays a role in presenting these biases.
Literature Review #1: Representations of migrant workers in Malaysian Newspapers by Nina Widyawati (2008)
In Nina Widyawati’s research about the representation of migrant workers in Malaysian newspapers, the researcher asks three main questions which are: “How do the Malaysian media represent migrant workers who have similar cultures (Indonesia) and different cultures (Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal)? How do the media produce and reproduce the discourses of migrant workers? And how do migrant workers and local inhabitants consume media text?” The motivation behind this research is to understand the effect of inequality as an ideology in media and in social practice. Specifically, it seeks to understand how the Indonesian migrant workers are represented in the Malaysian newspapers in comparison to other nationalities. This research aims to make the readers aware of the function of the media in the production of inequality and to sensitize journalists and publishers to this issue about migrants and inhabitants.
In order to answer the three questions of the study, the researcher employed three methods, the first one is the textual analysis which helped in describing how the media represents migrant workers. The second one is a critical political economy of media, to uncover how the media produces and reproduces its dissertation about migrant workers. The third one is a description of media consumption.
The researcher found out that “all migrant workers are represented badly in Malaysian newspapers, whether they have a similar culture or not. Even though all migrant workers are represented badly, the representation of Indonesian migrant workers is the worst.” The researcher tied their findings with the ideology of the media, which is all about ‘inequality’. And added that this ideology is related to the Malaysian political system that follows racial politics.
Literature Review #2: Discourse Analysis of the Representation of Migrant Workers in the Star Online Newspaper by Sheren Khalid Abdul Razzaq, Faculty of Language and Linguistics at the University of Malaya (2012)
In this research, a critical discourse analysis of the representation of migrant workers is conducted. Taking one of the most famous Malaysian newspapers in English which is called “The Star Online”. In June 2011, “the Malaysian Government has invited both legal and illegal foreign workers under the 6P amnesty and legalization program to register themselves under the “biometric identification system” to have legal documents.” In line with this situation, this paper aims to examine the representation of the migrant workers in the local media after this decision.
This research analyses the representation of migrant workers in the Star online news reports which is a Malaysian Newspaper that is produced in English.
To achieve their goal the researcher has chosen the most recent articles about this topic. They selected articles between the years 2012-2013. The total number of articles is 103. 67 news articles from 2012 (January-December) and 36 news articles from (January- April) 2013. The selection was based on the how relevant the articles are to the topic.
This research had two main objectives: Firstly, to examine the ways in which the migrant workers are represented in the online news article. Secondly, “to uncover the argumentation strategies employed to justify and legitimize that representation”. The study shows that the migrant workers are represented negatively in the Malaysian newspapers. They are viewed as “competitors to the locals in terms of job opportunities and as a threat to social security.” The study also revealed that the migrant workers are seen as a negative impact on economy.
The researcher concluded that the 6P legalization program did not influence the representation of migrant workers. Instead, it was found that the reason behind the negative representation of migrant worker is that they belong to the group of the ‘other’. And that such representation in the Star online is supported by authoritative figures quotations like minister’s speeches, well-structured arguments, stereotyping, and evaluative attributes. It shows through the data, that the migrant workers are described in association with crime, economic instability and job competition.
In this analysis the Japanese researchers analyzed the coverage of “Genetic Modification (GM)” in the newspapers since the topic is critical in Japan and the mass media industry plays a huge role in shaping the public opinions in this topic. The study showed that approximately 60% of the respondents gather their information on GM topics from newspapers and television. The researchers chose two major Japanese newspapers, the Asahi Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun to analyze. It’s argued that these two newspapers are slightly different. They assume that Asahi Shimbun is sometimes regarded as left-leaning and the Yomiuri Shimbun as right-leaning.
Using quantitative text analysis, they looked closely at the types of topics covered in these two newspapers. They used three main methods in order to analyze. First, they selected articles based on specific Japanese keywords: “Idenshikumikae” (meaning “Genetic Modification” and “Genetically Modified-”), “GM syokuhin” (meaning “GM food”), “GM sakumotsu” (meaning “GM crop”), “Toransujennikku” (meaning “Transgenic”) and “GMO”. Using the Asahi Shimbun database, they selected all articles that were published between 1984 and 2006 that included at least one of the keywords. They did the same for Yomiuri Shimbun database, but selected articles that were published between September 1986 and 2006. 4867 articles were selected, 2886 Asahi and 1981 Yomiuri articles published in Japanese during the period covered by this study.
The second method was to identify the topics using a software “KH Coder” that helps with quantitative text analysis. The third method is multiple correspondence analysis which is “a descriptive/exploratory technique that uses a simple two-way and multi-way contingency table.” After excluding many articles, “2,217 Asahi articles and 1,632 Yomiuri articles remained for analysis; they represented 76.8% and 82.4% of all Asahi and Yomiuri articles on GM, respectively.”
The results showed two shifts in the theme of topics that are related to GM. It began with the themes of industrial application, medical application, and medicine. Afterwards, the first shift occurred in 1997 and the theme was food application. And finally, the second shift occurred in 2003 where the articles -that were categorized under GM topics- were more about plant research.
Looking through newspaper articles regarding domestic workers in Kuwait, we noticed a few times where the tone used was not very pleasant. This sparked the question ‘does this tone reflect the attitudes of the audience the article is written for?’ Based on this question, we also noticed that since the audience of a newspaper is largely based on the language used, that their might be a difference in attitudes when the article is written in Arabic than in English. Since 70.39% of the Kuwaiti population are foreigners (according to The Public Authority for Civil Information) and most of them are non-Arabic speakers, a large amount of residents gravitate towards newspapers writing in English and the majority of readers for Arabic newspapers are Kuwaiti. Because of this, we wanted to shed light on the role of language in shaping the media’s way of covering the news and how the targeted audience effects the way the news is written. The articles chosen for the literature review showed us that there are similar studies being conducted around the world, and that their results were meaningful and impactful. This motivated us to conduct this study even if the results might not be to our liking. Therefore, the formal research question is “how does language in Kuwaiti newspapers effect representation of domestic workers?”
(Describe how you did your analysis, what material you analyzed, what variables you included and the variable values. Also describe how you did the inter-coder reliability test and the results from it and if it led you to change anything before you coded the entire material).
The material we used to conduct this study were articles of Kuwaiti newspapers with focuses on domestic workers. Four newspapers were used; two that writes in Arabic and two in English. Twenty-five articles were analyzed from each newspaper.
Five variables were used to conduct this research. The first one was the name of the newspaper that wrote each article, and the values were as such; 1=Arab Times, 2=Kuwait Times, 3=Al-Jareeda, 4=Al-Qabas. The second variable categorizes what topic each article was centered around. 1=Rights, 2=International Agreements, 3=Abuse/Slavery, 4= Law change, 5=Other. These topics were chosen as they were the most represented in the news. The third variable was that of balance, and had the values of 1=Balance, 2= Imbalance. Balance here is defined as a clear non-bias in the article, and Imbalance was defined as a clear favoring of one side of the story and an exclusion of the other. The fourth variable is language, and simply categorizes as 1=Arabic, 2=English. The fifth and final variable categorizes bias, and its values are 1=favors domestic workers, 2=favors Kuwaitis. During coding, the fifth variable was only inputted if the article was imbalanced. If the article was balanced, then the fifth variable did not apply to it. Collecting the data consisted of reading each article and deciding on which values fit the best. A margin of error is essential, as what constitutes as balanced and imbalanced differs from person to person.
The inter-coder reliability test was conducted separately, and prompted us to make a few changes to our coding scheme. Firstly, it had us re-define the terms ‘balance’ and ‘imbalance’, as we realized that our understandings differed. Secondly, we also realized that there was a clear need for adding the fifth variable, as it was absent during the initial test. This variable was essential for more accurate results, as attitudes would have still been unclear if it was simply a matter of balance and imbalance.
After reading through fifty articles in Arabic and fifty in English, we made inferences that lead us to our conclusion. There is a clear difference in attitudes towards domestic workers depending on language in Kuwaiti newspapers, with more imbalanced articles written in Arabic and more balanced articles written in English. According to our coding scheme, articles written in Arabic are more likely to be imbalanced and favoring Kuwaitis. No imbalanced articles written in Arabic favored domestic workers, whereas imbalanced articles written in English are equally as likely to be in favor of Kuwaitis as of domestic workers. Most imbalanced articles covered topics of Abuse/Slavery or Other, and the least amount of imbalanced articles covered International Agreements. Looking solely at the imbalanced articles written in Arabic, most articles favoring Kuwaitis cover topics of Abuse/Slavery, and the least amount cover Rights. The most imbalanced articles written in English favoring Kuwaitis covered topics categorized as Other, and the least amount of imbalanced articles covered Rights.
The results of this study definitely gave us a good understanding of how news is regarded and written in Kuwait. There is a clear bias in articles written in Arabic, as the readers of such articles tend to have a unified stance in opinions on the situation of domestic workers. The news reflects these opinions and supports it so as not to create conflict. In contrast, articles written in English tend to be less biased and objective because that is what is demanded and expected from their readership. Since the largest amount of imbalanced articles written in Arabic and favoring Kuwaitis are about the topics of Abuse/Slavery, the news could be written in such a way not to enrage residents but to still give them the facts. It is imbalanced in a way to only show one side of the story, and so does not shed a bad light on inflictors. This is a problem because it erases the suffering of those whose story is not being told, and reinforces and validates the wrongdoings inflicted upon them.
Imbalanced articles are written in both languages, and despite the findings showing imbalanced articles in English equally favoring both Kuwaitis and domestic workers, imbalance in journalism should not exist altogether. The integrity of journalism relies on truth and giving representation where it is due. Imbalance in journalism prevents tolerance and hides justice and truth from its audience, and the attitudes of the Kuwaiti public towards domestic workers reflects that
Abdul Razzaq, S. (2012). Discourse Analysis of the Representation of Migrant Workers in the Star Online Newspaper. Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 01(03).
Shineha, R., Hibino, A., & Kato, K. (2008). Analysis of Japanese newspaper articles on genetic modification. Journal of Science Communication, 07(02).
The Public Authority for Civil Information (n.d). Statistics Services System. Retrieved from https://www.paci.gov.kw/Default.aspx
Widyawati, N. (2008). Representations of Migrant Workers in Malaysian Newspapers. The Nippon Foundation, 01(08)
Wimmer, R. D., & Dominick, J. R. (2014). Mass media research an introduction. Andover: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
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