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Abstract

This study is part of a project on the representations of Jordanian women in Arabic and English digital news, and how these relate to their perceived status in their society and to Arab women’s general image in Western media. We focus on their depictions in related news stories appearing in English during the period 2014-2016 and how they compare to the overall representations of Arab women in news discourse. To this end, we combine discourse analysis approaches and corpus linguistic techniques to analyse a corpus composed of 616 articles (445,904 words) published in English mainly by 10 news websites based in several countries. We processed our data through Sketch Engine to identify the significant lexical items and expressions used by journalists to describe Jordanian women, then we classified these according to the topical frames they reflect. Finally, we related these themes to both the established stereotypes and the recent images associated with Arab women in Western media. Our results show that the most frequent topics linked to Jordanian women are: empowerment and activism, rights, oppression, work, education, family, marriage, religion and traditions. Most of these echo, in various degrees, both the conventional portrayals of Arab women in the mainstream media as oppressed victims of their societies and their emerging as protesters and fighters for their rights. Yet, these themes are addressed in different tones when it comes to Jordanian women such that religion and dress restrictions are deemphasized while rights, education, and participation in public life are highlighted. Still, some topical frames are underscored as being specifically associated with Jordanian women reflecting their particular achievements, especially, in education and working in non-traditional jobs, on the one hand, and their continuous struggle to gain more constitutional rights, on the other. While our findings shed light on sketching Jordanian women in global news, they provide further discursive evidence against the monolithic representation of Arab women in Western media.

Note on the Author

Duaa Tabaza holds a Master’s Degree in Language, Culture, and Communication from the University of Jordan. Ms. Tabaza’s thesis compared media representation of women between two languages through corpus-assisted discourse analysis. She presented a paper at the Sixth International Conference of the Association of Professors of English and Translation at Arab Universities and co-authored another presented at CICLing 2017 conference. Ms. Tabaza is a Certified International Compliance and Ethics Professional, currently working in an international professional services firm as an Associate. ; Dr. Zahra Mustafa-Awad is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Jordan and has been a visiting scholar in several universities in Europe, the United States and the Middle East. Her research focuses on Discourse Analysis, Language and Media, Cross-Cultural Communication and Foreign Language Teaching. Her publications include articles in international journals, chapters in edited volumes, and two textbooks. She is a member of the Editorial Boards of the International Journal of Arabic-English Studies and Voices in Asia Journal. Orcid.org/0000-0002-5583-9167

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