Date of Award

Spring 5-28-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Leonard Teel

Second Advisor

Michael Bruner

Third Advisor

Kathy Fuller-Seeley

Fourth Advisor

Michael Herb


This dissertation probes the role of the media in Lebanon, a plural democracy, characterized by a deeply divided society and a fragmented political culture. By using case study research and critical discourse analysis of television texts, the dissertation investigates the degree to which the media, which operate relatively freely, reflect social and political divisions, and whether they work to exacerbate these deep divisions or attenuate them.

The study makes the case that, because the media reflect the "precarious" sociopolitical framework within which they operate, Lebanese media discourse is naturally inclined to be polarized in stories of identity and power struggle and neutral in stories devoid of identity issues. In contrast to a general tendency to view all media through a normative Western lens, this study argues against this normative appraisal in the case of the Lebanese media. It contends that the role of the Lebanese media can be better understood if analyzed in conjunction with the media's sociopolitical framework and in the way the media reflect conflicting and overlapping communal norms.