Silence as a discourse in the public sphere: Media representations of Australians 'Joining the fight' in Syria

Tejaswini Patil Vishwanath, Gretchen Marie Ennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Literature on media representations of Islamic terrorism predominantly employs discourse analysis as a methodological tool to unpack concepts of power in texts. There is scant literature focused on the operation of silence as a discursive practice in the public sphere. This paper employs Huckin's (2002) notion of manipulative silences to demonstrate how textual media representations of Australians 'Joining the Fight' in Syria are dominated by identity debates, particularly evident in the media's act of defining Muslims who engage in the Syrian conflict as bad Australians. We use 'Joining the Fight' on Insight, an Australian opinion-based television program on Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), as the centrepiece of our argument to demonstrate how media representations use manipulative silences. These silences skew dialogue in the public sphere away from the core issue, the role of ISIS in the Syrian conflict, and towards internal politics and nationalistic concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-46
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Alternatives
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • social identity
  • Media analysis

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