The methodology chosen for the research is discourse analysis, specifically analysing contemporary media texts (post-2010) that depict images or focus on Muslim women in the forefront of the articles. The media texts are newspapers, with a mix of tabloid and broadsheet newspaper articles. The language, visual elements and the contextual meaning behind the articles will be analysed. “The method explores power relations from a critical standpoint to make sense of the social world by providing new critical insights – a positive contribution to both theory and research” (Morgan, 2010). This sort of research is essential to examine the social standing of Muslim women as depicted in the media with a critical view. It is required to understand how the media represents Muslim women, answering questions such as: do their voices act as a narrative? , are they still depicted with generic stereotypical tropes?, has their image in the media worsened after Islamophobia? etc.
Since this research contains the social standing and representation of Muslim women – “discourse analysis involves the text’s ‘socio cultural practice’ of which the communicative event is part” (Fairclough, 1995a:57), events here being activities that Muslim women have been a part of or are involved in. The article’s language will be analysed in-depth especially as “language use is always active, it is always directed as doing something; and the way in which language achieves this activity is always related to the context in which it is used” (Richardson, 2009).
It is also important to note that the bias found in certain newspapers depends on the company or force behind the paper. We must keep in mind the news values of the publisher and their (often) singular objective. Different newspapers will be encoded with the same ideological message but will be written and depicted in various ways depending on the voice of the paper. This could also be a limitation of using discourse analysis - “our ‘meaning’ of the text is often affected by our judgement of who produced it” (Richardson, 2009).
Examples of critical discourse analysis include the subject of racism (Dijk, 1993), and welfare reform (Fairclough, 2001). These subjects are complex and require critical discourse analysis to assess a situation that a majority of the country faces. A critique of this sort would provide accountability of these newspapers that are often responsible in creating an image in the eyes of their readers. “This model incorporates very specific concepts, and social conflict and ideology can be evidenced in evaluative accents, or judgements, which are conveyed by words” (Morgan, 2010).
The analysis will go deeper than what meets the eye and challenge the media publication and the reason behind the story. The analysis’ aim is to understand how Muslim women are represented, and why are they are represented in that manner. As racial profiling is a big part of this conversation, “discourse analysis is a useful tool in explicating racism because it allows for a nuanced analysis of the socially and historically informed discourses that are available for negotiating racial positions” (Gee, 1999; Van Dijk, 1993). For some of the articles, we will witness social reality of the subject by researching what consequences followed post publishing these articles.