Media, Human Rights and Political Discourse

Authored by: Lisa Brooten

The Routledge Companion to Media and Human Rights

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138665545
eBook ISBN: 9781315619835
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the intersection of human rights, media and political discourse. It ­provides an overview of the politics of rights as they emerged and as they relate to communication, representations of human rights issues in media and the impact on political discourse as a result of the increasing pervasiveness of rights. Drawing on critical rights scholarship, the chapter analyses the limitations of rights discourse in addressing political problems, in particular the focus on civil and political rights characteristic of globally dominant approaches to human rights. Human rights discourse has come to dominate discussions on vital issues of concern globally, yet in some cases is also avoided in media coverage, with significant political impact. The focus on civil and political rights often displaces attention to key political interests and elides key structural issues central to efforts for change, issues that would be unavoidable with attention to social, economic and cultural rights. The chapter will analyse the efficacy of human rights discourse as a tool for addressing fundamental global problems, with attention to its impact on immigration and citizenship, war and humanitarian disasters, and media reform.

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