The cultural framing hypothesis: Cultural conflict indicators in The New York Times from 1981 to 2007

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Publication details

JournalMedia, War & Conflict
DatePublished - Aug 2009
Issue number2
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)171-190
Original languageEnglish


The authors investigated attributes related to a `cultural framing hypothesis', the notion that mass media have promoted Samuel Huntington's `clash of civilizations' theory, establishing its `salience' outside the academic environment. Media salience of cultural attributes can be linked to several public outcomes: (1) an overall attribution of importance — the fact the `clash of civilizations' paradigm is recognizable and important in the public mind; (2) the theory may be used as a tool for interpretation for whatever conflicts happen around the globe, overshadowing various other plausible and scientifically sound explanations; (3) the theory may be leading to notions of expanded inter-ethnic or `civilization' identities as described by Huntington. To assess the existence of cultural framing, the authors conducted a quantitative content analysis of five different micro-frames, derived from Huntington's seminal work, over a 27-year period. The authors examined two main hypotheses: H1: cultural frames will be predominantly traceable in media content after Huntington's theory appeared in the early 1990s; and H2: cultural frames will be salient in newspaper content during periods of intense terrorist activities, mainly after the year 2001. Both hypotheses were supported by the data.

    Research areas

  • Clash of civilizations, Cultural conflict, Cultural framing, Huntington

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