The representation of foreign workers in Saudi English online newspapers: A corpus-based critical discourse analysis

Aljabhan, Mohammad (2021). The representation of foreign workers in Saudi English online newspapers: A corpus-based critical discourse analysis. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis examines the representation of foreign workers in two Saudi Arabian newspapers published in English. The presence of large numbers of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia is an important social topic as, although there is clearly an official acceptance of foreign workers, there also appears to be a popular undercurrent of antagonism. This thesis investigates the linguistic representation of this group in the discourse of the on-line English written press in Saudi Arabia, in order to uncover the discourses associated with the group.

The thesis combines a corpus linguistics approach with critical discourse analysis (Baker, 2006; Baker et al., 2008). A corpus of half a million words was compiled using the seed terms: foreign, foreigner(s), expat(s), and expatriate(s). Twelve themes and seventeen topoi are identified based on the contextual meaning of concordance lines; the majority of those themes and topoi represent foreign workers in a negative light. Negative themes include: the large number of foreign workers in the country, the practice of sending money out of the country, and foreign workers committing various crimes. These are represented as posing a threat to Saudis’ job opportunities, to the economy, and to society, respectively. The negative consequences of foreigner crime and Saudi unemployment are the findings that are most frequent. The rest of the themes or topoi represent foreign workers in a more positive light; they are positively viewed as a group of people who work better than Saudis, who should be protected by law, or socially helped and supported.

My conclusion is that the newspapers are inconsistent in their representation of foreign workers. The evidence shows that negative views of foreign workers are the dominant discourse, but that positive views are also revealed in competing discourses. One possible explanation of this inconsistency is that newspapers, on the one hand, publish news to comply with the official line and with societal norms, while on the other hand, they attempt to satisfy their readership, which consists predominantly of foreign workers living in Saudi Arabia.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of English Language and Linguistics
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Saudi Arabia Ministry of education, Taibah University
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English


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