Media representations of British Muslims and hybridised threats to identity.
Muslims have never before occupied such a central position in the British media, given their general absence from more ‘normalised’ representational positions such as in popular soaps, literature and reality television. Recent studies reveal the primarily negative ‘hypervisibility’ of Muslims across the media, which has encouraged negative social representations. Drawing upon relevant concepts from intergroup threat theory and identity process theory, this paper argues that British Muslims are increasingly constructed in terms of a hybridised threat to the ethno-national ingroup, consisting of both symbolic and realistic aspects. This account offers a socio-psychological perspective by exploring the potential socio- cognitive and behavioural repercussions of exposure to representations of British Muslims as a hybridised threat. The focus upon identity processes among the non- Muslim British majority elucidates the identity implications of Islamophobic representations in the Press and some of the potential causes of Islamophobic prejudice. It is argued that the principles of continuity, distinctiveness and self-esteem are particularly susceptible to change as a result of such negative media representa- tions. The transition from media representation to dominant social representation is discussed, in addition to the potential implications for intergroup relations.
Citation:Jaspal, R. and Cinnirella, M. (2010) Media representations of British Muslims and hybridised threats to identity. Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life, 4 (3), pp. 289-310