2014: Volume 7, Issue 2, pp. 57-73

The Need for Interdisciplinary Research of the Arab Mass Media

Mohammad Ayish

Harris Breslow



This paper critically reviews mainstream models of mass communication research in the Arab world and proposes an interdisciplinary perspective that addresses communication within a broader theoretical and analytical framework. Scholarly works on 20th century Arab mass communication can be placed in six subject categories: propaganda, development communication, historical accounts, international news flow, technical and professional works, and general theoretical works (Ayish, 1998). Recent significant technological, political, and social developments have redefined not only perspectives about the Arab world’s transitions, but also about how mass communications contribute to this change. The paper subsequently examines three research areas of particular relevance to scholarship of media usage within, and of the Arab world. The first is concerned with the political economy of flow, a global apparatus of systems of movement of people, ideas and cultural products, financial instruments, and goods. The second area is concerned with the study of the rapidly increasing mobility of subjects that is a phenomenon of the political economic apparatus of flow and that has changed the context within which the Arab mass media are both disseminated and consumed. Lastly, the paper discusses the relevance of this work to the changing nature of the production of identity. Here the authors describe identity as a contingent phenomenon that is determined by a host of political, economic, social, cultural, and other factors that delineate the production of one’s sense of self, while arguing that the articulation of the political economic apparatus of flow has rearticulated the relationships amongst the factors that identity draws upon and is demarcated by.


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