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Program

When emotions run too high – The role of the media in the polarization of conflicts

Hosted by Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC)
Monday, June 22 / Room D

At times it is surprising to see how disagreements that might seem minor to outsiders can grow into long-running conflicts, escalate drastically and even turn violent. Although there are always causes and reasons, including strategic or political interests, the at times disproportionate emotional responses of people are very often hard to understand. Examples include the territorial disputes over the Senkaku/Diaoyudao/Diaoyutai Islands or between Ukraine and Russia regarding Crimea.

In such situations, the relationship between politicians and the media can turn toxic. Politicians may attempt to manipulate public opinion through the media by dehumanizing their opponents, sometimes only as a means to distract attention from internal challenges. Moreover, public opinion is frequently enflamed by the media to such an extent that taking a moderate stance is no longer an option for politicians.

Volatile situations can also escalate even further due to un-moderated discussions on social media fora. On the other hand, there are also examples of online discussion having helped to calm overwrought emotions.
This workshop will examine how the foreign policies of countries, specifically those in conflict situations, are affected by national public discourse that is characteristically polarising and overtly emotional, and the important role that media play in such contexts.

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