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Title: Framing Bahrain through public diplomacy: a qualitative analysis of frames communicated by the Bahraini government during the 2011 crisis
Author(s): AlOmari, Rana
Supervisor(s): Jelen-Sanchez, Alenka
Dekavalla, Marina
Keywords: public relations
public diplomay
media relations
crisis communication
framing theory
frame analysis
frame building
Shoemaker & Reese model
image repair theory
social constructivism
hierarchal model of Influence
Arab Spring
Issue Date: Sep-2018
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis explores frames communicated through Bahraini public diplomacy to foreign media and publics during three key moments of the 2011 crisis in Bahrain, and factors connected to the building of these frames. It employed qualitative frame analysis of public diplomacy texts published on Bahrain News Agency’s website during the first week of protests, the arrival of the Peninsula Shield Forces to Bahrain, and the publication of Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report. It also used interviews with communicators from the Bahraini Information Affairs Authority to explore background processes of frame-building. This study contributes to research on the role of public diplomacy in co-constructing specific versions of reality in government messages during crises. It offers an example of Arab government practice of public diplomacy and framing in the Arab Spring. The research also employs Benoit’s (1995) image repair theory and Shoemaker and Reese’s (1996) model to explore crisis response strategies represented by the frames, and frame-building processes. The research finds that most of the analysed frames denied a crisis, while other frames addressed it yet externalised its causes. Denying an internal crisis started in absence of decision making, and lack of crisis experience and preparedness. It then became connected to promotion of positive news to contest foreign media’s coverage, and maintain the authorities’ power status. This research suggests the Bahraini government’s responses are similar to how nations usually respond to crises, especially not admitting responsibility for wrongdoing. Rather, public diplomacy is used as a tool by the government to maintain its power position. The thesis suggests this crisis is a turning point in Bahrain’s practice of public diplomacy, especially in paying more attention to how it can further assure the promotion of messages that maintain the authorities’ power position among foreign publics.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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