As part of the university’s celebration of International Women’s Day, I would like to take the opportunity to share my research topic which is concerned with the portrayal of women in Algerian news media.  

Research Aims and Motivations  

My research study, through the lens of Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis (Lazar, 2005), examines the way women are positioned in Algerian news media. More specifically, it examines the main discourses and ideologies embedded in the linguistic and visual texts of two Francophone and two Arabophone news outlets in Algeria, with a focus on news articles published between 2016 and 2021 on International Women’s Day (IWD). The reason behind choosing this day is that it constitutes a feminist day that is commemorated each March 8 to advocate for women’s rights and gender justice. Besides, IWD is observed as a public event in Algeria leading to an increased emphasis on women’s issues within the Algerian news media during this time period. By critically examining the texts of the chosen news outlets, the research seeks to find out whether they reproduce or challenge dominant gendered beliefs in society. The data of the study consist of 40 news articles which are qualitatively analysed using Fairclough’s (1989, 1992) three-dimensional model.  

One important driving force for undertaking this research stems from the ongoing challenge of women’s status in Algerian society. Despite some efforts to improve their role in society, Algerian women continue to face barriers to attain their full rights and are confined to traditional gender norms. Indeed, the Algerian society is organised according to a rigid patriarchy that puts women in a subordinate position. An important question that can be asked regarding this issue is: how gender norms are maintained and perpetuated in society? 

Societal institutions such as the family, educational settings, workplaces, governments, media and so on play a crucial role in producing and maintaining widespread gendered beliefs. My study through focusing on the institution of media investigates how it is a site for constructing assumptions about gender. It analyses the role of the Algerian press in challenging or reproducing hegemonic assumptions about gender in the Algerian context and critiques discourses that sustain imbalanced power relations between women and men. 

Key Research Findings  

The results of the study indicate that the data of the selected news outlets drew on different and competing discourses about women. The Arabophone news media adopted a more conservative stance on women in its data by constructing hegemonic perspectives that aim at reinforcing women’s subordinate position in society. The Francophone news media, on the other hand, took a more progressive stance on women’s role by concentrating on the question of women’s rights and gender equality. Due to space constraints, I will focus on three perspectives on gender highlighted in the data and briefly discuss their ideological implications.  

The data in Arabic expressed a ‘discourse of women’s outperformance of men in higher education’ which indicates that Algerian universities are invaded by female students. Various linguistic features were employed to highlight the belief in female dominance in Algerian universities and the potential negative consequences of this phenomenon. The ideological implications of this discourse are that women’s success is perceived as a threat to men’s societal position. Besides, despite advancements in higher education, the low representation of women in the labour market (which stands at only 18%) and decision-making positions in Algeria reveals a persistent injustice.  

Another discourse articulated in the data in Arabic relates to an ‘anti-feminist discourse’ which reflects a hegemonic perspective in Algeria aiming to reinforce widespread beliefs about gender and unequal power dynamics between women and men in society. The main reason behind this opposition is due to cultural and religious beliefs of Algerian society; feminism is considered as a threat to Algerian identity and culture as it challenges traditional gender roles and dominant views and assumptions about gender. 

Despite the presence of an anti-feminist discourse in the data, a feminist discourse is also found which is mainly articulated in the Francophone newspapers. This is done by focusing on the issue of women’s rights and gender equality in addition to representing women in non-traditional roles. For example, in dealing with the issue of gender equality, the Francophone newspapers focused on the legal rights of Algerian women. The newspapers highlighted that despite progress in the legal rights of women in Algeria, there is still a need for other reforms to promote change by focusing on the Algerian family code which enshrines inequality between men and women. The Francophone newspapers also expressed the necessity for women to advocate for their rights and highlighted several issues faced by Algerian women such as violence as well as sexual harassment in public spaces.  

My research study has been important in unpacking power dynamics within discourses articulated in news media texts in Algeria which is form of ‘analytical activism’ (Lazar, 2007: 145). I am committed to continuing my advocacy for women’s rights and gender justice both within and outside of academia.  

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *