In April 2019, we delivered a paper entitled Arab Riots, London Spring at the ‘From the State to the Streets’ Conference at the University of Manchester.
The paper examined the framings of the London ‘riots’ and the Arab ‘spring’ in 2011 and asked, what made one civil unrest and the other a revolution?
As mass audiences, we are often confronted by state violence through the re-framings, representations, and re-contextualisation’s that we encounter through the mainstream news coverage that reaches our screens. However, we often fail to ask what underpins these re-framings? Or question the relationship between the State and the Media. The paper draws comparisons between the British television coverage of the “London Riots” and the “Arab Spring” to consider issues surrounding media complicities and the representation of state violence in mainstream British television news contexts, to ask:
• What makes one uprising a riot and the other a call to freedom and aligned with social and political justice?
• What can we learn of the dominant ideologies that frame these representations?
• What do these media narratives reveal of the relationship between state violence and racism and capitalism?
Extending this discussion to broader media contexts, the paper draws on cultural and critical theories to examine the relationship between the mainstream western media and cultural hegemony. The paper concludes by considering these points in the context of, the digital media revolution, globalisation and imperialism, and the positioning of digitised counter media narratives and their pull of niche audiences.