Ponencia aceptada en Manchester: Mirrored nationalism

 Ethnicity, Race and Nationalism in European Media and Film: Rights, Responsibilities, Representations
International Conference, The University of Manchester, UK.

23-25 May 2013

Mirrored nationalism. Spanish and Belgium newspapers depicting the others’ conflict

Enric Castelló, Alexander Dhoest and Sara Bastiaensens

This paper is grounded in a research analysing how the press in Belgium and Spain reports on Catalonia and Flanders, respectively. The research is motivated by the national conflict in both countries regarding the claims for autonomy and the growth of support for the independence of both regions. Grounding their arguments in the theories of national identities and the domestication of the news, the authors propose the concept of “mirror effect” to explain the logics of comparison of two different contexts.

The authors combined a content analysis of eight major newspapers (El País, El Mundo, La Vanguardia, El Punt Avui, De Morgen, De Standaard, Le Soir and La Libre Belgique) during one year (1 June 2010 to 31 May 2011) with a qualitative approach to how the texts compared Flemish and Catalan political realities.

The article shows that reporting on political conflicts such as the ones analysed tends to use “the others’ case” as a model from which to learn and to follow or not. The results indicate considerable differences between the Belgian and Spanish case, the latter being more politicized and focused on the national conflict.

In the case of Spain, the mirror effect clearly functions for the Catalan situation –and specifically the pro-nationalist press, which tends to point to Flanders as a model or as a situation that is similar to the Catalan one. In Catalonia, comparisons are more intense and circumscribed to the political debate. In Belgium, references are made to Catalonia in a wide range of topics and situations although the Flemish press also mirrors the Catalan national context. Belgian newspapers within each region take less overtly different political positions.

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