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Representation of Islam and Christianity in the Swiss Media*

In: Journal of Empirical Theology
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  • 1 urs.dahinden@htwchur.ch
  • | 2 a) University of applied sciences HTW Chur and University of Zurich, Switzerland b) University of applied sciences ZHAW Winterthur, Switzerland c) University of applied sciences ZHAW Winterthur, Switzerland d) University of applied sciences ZHAW Winterthur, Switzerland
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Abstract

What is the role of the media in multi-religious societies? Are they aggravating latent tensions between religions or rather helping to promote mutual understanding? These are the key research questions addressed in this paper. The discussion in this paper refers to narration and framing as two theoretical approaches from communication science. The empirical findings of a media content analysis in Switzerland show strong differences between Islam and Christianity: While Christianity and its denominations are mainly presented in positive frames and positive narratives (e.g. “good mother”), the image of Islam is rather negative. Islam receives relatively high media attention, but the focus is not on Islam in Switzerland, but on Islam abroad. A number of qualitative interviews with journalists and representatives of religious organisations show that this negative image is not caused by anti-muslim attitudes, but rather the outcome of journalistic routines. The paper discusses these findings against the background of the research questions and concludes with some recommendations for journalists and representatives of religious organizations.

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