The conceptualization of the nationhood largely depends on the social political as well as the economic status of a nation. In established countries, nationhood seems to occur against the backdrop of proactive effort, especially by the government, on people roles in maintaining the national identity in the global arena. Such approach is topdown, and seems to occur in times of social economic as well as political stability.
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In times of crisis however, a different bottom-up approach manifests itself (Frosh and Wolfsfeld 2). The concept of Mediated Civil Nationhood largely borrows from this theory, especially on the elements of conceptualizing nationhood in times of crises. In such a situation, the media takes the position of the government in mediating nationhood.
The term civil in “Mediated Civil Nationhood” refers to unplanned daily interactions, but largely obscures overt ethnic differences. There are subtle semantic differences between the terms civil and civic; civic refers to people living within specific territorial boundaries.
However, the close morphological and semantic association between these two terms obscures ethnicity, a key component of nationhood (Frosh and Wolfsfeld 3). Yet, ethnicity helps to conceptualize the spirit nationhood, especially in times of crisis.
The use of the term civil provides semantic weaknesses in defining “Mediated Civil Nationhood”. This leads to the question on how ethnicity manifests itself in conceptualizing nationhood. Ethnicity can is perceived within community, culture and physical boundaries. In each of these subcategories, there are certain elements of cultural similarities.
However, these similarities overlap forming a larger identity group, which can be referred to as a nation. Additionally, while a nation is symbolized through flags, emblems and such other features, it is also an abstract concept represented by abstract institutions and systems.
In moments of crises, the media, through various genres, plays a pivotal role in mediating between these three components of nationhood (Frosh and Wolfsfeld 4).
Crisis and Nationhood in Israeli Television News
The role of the media in mediating nation is evident in Israel, and occurs against the backdrop of the conflict between the conceptual civic and ethnic State. In civic terms, Israel is perceived as a collection cultureless people living within its territorial boundaries, bound by given laws and national symbols.
This obscures the Jewish and Palestinian ethnic backgrounds. Yet certain laws, such as Law of Return, introduce the ethnicity clause by favoring people of Jewish origin over the Palestinians. In this case, Israel is perceived as Jewish and not Palestinian. Thus, the civic-ethnic conflict forms the Israeli crisis and largely constitutes discussions within the media (Frosh and Wolfsfeld 5 to 6).
The media is central towards the construction of nationhood since it not only proactively broadcasts issues of societal importance, but is also privy to such issues before broadcasting. As explained earlier, the civic-ethnic crisis is of paramount importance to Israel, and thus constitutes a major part of discussion in news broadcasts.
Amidst all these, the position of the audience is largely jeopardized by the varying media representations of the civic-ethnic crisis. On one hand, the media present terrorism in civic terms: as targeting Israeli citizens, regardless of their cultural background. Thus terror attacks target spaces associated with the civil society: restaurants, bars and other public places.
Yet the Jewish-Palestinian conflict within the larger Israeli crisis is not totally lost on the media. Thus, the media does not fail to highlight overt suspicions between Jews and Palestine living in Israel (Frosh and Wolfsfeld 7).
The coverage of the Israeli crisis by the Israeli media portrays how powerful the media is in mediating the formation of national identity. The media in Israeli play vital roles in not only in reporting the conflict but also shaping the public opinion about the Israeli crisis. Thus, other nations can take vital lessons from the Israeli media in nation building.
Frosh, Paul and Gadi Wolfsfeld. ImagiNation: News Discourse, Nationhood and Civil Society. MA thesis. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem 2006. Department of Communication and Journalism. Print