Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 29 Issue 2 (March 2019), Pages 79-164

How Palestinian students invoke the category “human” to challenge negative treatment and media representations (pages 133-145)

Abstract Dehumanisation of opponents in conflict has been shown to be a common and damaging feature in the media. What is not understood is how this dehumanisation is challenged, which is the novel contribution that this research will make. Drawing on focus groups (four focus groups each with four to six participants) conducted in the West Bank in 2015 that discussed media coverage of international conflict, this article demonstrates the ways in which young Palestinian participants attempt to rehumanize themselves in the context of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Discursive analysis demonstrates how this was achieved in a number of ways: categorising Palestinians as “human being”; by directly and explicitly challenging the suggestion that Palestinians are less than human; by drawing the enemy into the category “human”; and by embodying the “human.” These findings, the first to address the talk of young Palestinians about the reporting of violent conflicts around the world, demonstrate the importance of categorization and how, in this case, the specifics of the use of the (human) category work to rehumanize Palestinians in the face of (claims of) dehumanisation.

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