Dissertation Abstracts

Framing Public Sphere: The Affirmative Action Controversy in the Brazilian Press

Author: Campos, Luiz A, lascampos@gmail.com
Department: Pós-Graduação em Sociologia, Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Políticos
University: Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Supervisor: João Feres Jr.
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: Portugues

Keywords: public sphere , news media , racial relations , affirmative action
Areas of Research: Communication, Knowledge and Culture , Political Sociology , Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations


News media studies usually are based on one of two theoretical perspectives. On the one side, some researchers focus on the relevance of the press for the constitution of the public sphere in modern democracies. According to this point of view, the press shelters public debate and holds governmental decisions accountable to society as a whole. On the other side, a more skeptical perspective argues that the press is not a pillar of the public sphere because its routines and structures are open to rhetorical manipulation, which, in turn, is incompatible with the modern ideal of a deliberative public sphere. Beyond this opposition, however, it is important to notice that the ideal of public deliberation mediated by the press have historically been used by the press itself as a means to legitimize its social and political function. By analyzing the coverage of race-based affirmative action in two chief Brazilian quality papers, 'O Globo' and 'Folha de S. Paulo', I show how the media framed it as a polarized and dramatized debate, producing at the same time a "public space" where certain voices were authorized and linked to certain positions in the debate. My data was comprised of all texts on affirmative action published by these newspapers between 2001 and 2009, and included different formats such as reports, columns, op-ed articles, reader’s letters, etc. Data analysis was performed with the help of Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Softwares (CAQDAS).