Belgium as a victim or a culprit? A comparative analysis of framing the 2016 Brussels bombings in Flemish and Dutch newspapers.

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In this dissertation, a cross-national analysis of framing the 22nd of March 2016 Brussels bombings in Dutch and Flemish national newspapers is presented. The purpose of the study was to investigate how Dutch and Flemish newspapers framed the bombings and explain how the differences in framing may relate to the different cultural contexts. Analyzing a corpus of 104 articles of Dutch and Flemish quality newspapers, it was found that Flemish newspapers opted for a more personal approach, bringing a human face to the issue and presenting Belgium as a victim. On the other hand, Dutch news texts reported the events emphasizing on conflicts, economics, safety measures, and political and international relations. While these results contrast with Hofstede’s (1984) scores of these two countries on the cultural dimension of uncertainty avoidance, they are in line with Hall’s (1976) context theory. By presenting these results, this research provides more empirical evidence for framing terrorism in European news texts and highlights that, although the same language in Flanders and the Netherlands, they are still considered to be two highly different socio-cultural contexts.
Faculteit der Letteren