Voltar à página inicial da revista Estudos em Comunicação

ScopusErihEbsco Host - Research DatabasesUrlrichs Web - Global Serials DirectoryDOAJ WebLatindex

Joao Carlos Correia

Universidade da Beira Interior


Working with nationalism as ideology

The context: nationalism and Salazar

were two main factors that shaped Portugal between the process of European unification after the Second World War 1945 and the democratic revolution of 1974: the dictatorial nature of Salazar's regime and its strong reluctance to any kind of decolonization (Pinto and Teixeira, 2004). After the abolition of the monarchy and the Portuguese participation in First World War on the side of the Allies, the country experienced a period of cabinet instability and pro-authoritarian activity that aggravated the young republic's legitimacy crisis. A coup d'état in 1926 led to the establishment of a military dictatorship that was internally divided as a consequence of the conflicts that existed within the conservative bloc among supporters of the monarchy, partisans of a moderate right-wing republic, supporters of the Catholic Centre, and real fascists. Stability was restored within the dictatorship when Salazar, a young professor from the Democratic Christian Academic Centre, finally rose to Prime Minister in 1932, assuming the country's leadership (Oliveira Marques, 1986: 363-372).
While the New State (`Estado Novo') was inspired by European fascism, its political institutions, which were created in 1933, were primarily influenced by corporatist ideals that resulted in the institutionalization of a dictatorial regime supported by a single party (Oliveira Marques, 1986: 465-467). Facing a difficult financial situation, the new Prime Minister tried to solve it with tried and tested authoritarian policies: the dissolution of Parliament, parties' interdiction, introduction of `strong Government', with severe restrictions on the freedom of the press, movement and assembly.
Following the Second World War, the Allies didn't extend to Portugal the same policy applied to its Spanish neighbour (Pinto, 2002). The country was still quite isolated at the international level, except for its presence at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Pinto, 2002: 2, 7). Salazar's neutrality during the Second World War, and the rise of the Cold War, ensured the survival of his regime in the post-1945 international environment. Portugal joined the United Nations after an initial opposition (Pinto & Teixeira, 2004: 113).
The Salazar regime survived by cultivating an external image of benign authoritarianism that was an anti-communist bulwark of Western civilization, and by efficiently controlling internal opposition (Pinto and Teixeira, 2004: 113). Salazar saw the relationship between Europe and Africa as a complementary one, and viewed the connections between Europe and Africa as a harmony of economic, political and military plans.

The breakdown of the authoritarian nationalism

During the Salazar Regime, and especially during the colonial war, most Portuguese were educated to respect the values of Nation and Authority. The newspapers had to send their pages to Censorship Services before publication; radio broadcasts were only allowed if they spread the ideology of National Revolution; and Portuguese public TV, established during the dictatorship, was used by the State as a tool for the `moral elevation' of the Portuguese people. Before the Democratic Revolution, most of the commemorations of the National Day of Portugal (which Salazar referred to as Dia da Raça, or Race Day) were filled with the awarding of medals to wounded warriors of the colonial war, broadcast live on TV. Isolated from Europe during the fascist regime, the Portuguese elites were educated to imagine Portugal as a multi-racial society, having Lisbon as a culturally and racially homogeneous capital.
The arrival of democracy was mostly provoked by the increasing opposition of the Army to the unfinished colonial war, fought since 1961. After the 1974 Revolution, Portugal opened negotiations almost instantaneously with national liberation movements from the colonies. In contrast to past configurations of the image of `the Portuguese' (white, Latin, Catholic, believers in the Holy Virgin of Fátima, inhabitants of a old Empire with an important presence in Africa and in some parts of Asia), the decolonization process brought the arrival from more than 200,000 survivors of the subsequent civil wars in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea. These survivors were frequently full of prejudice against democracy and nostalgic of the Portuguese colonial past. From the political centre of a transcontinental Colonial Empire, Portugal became a small country integrated in a far larger economic and political block. The ideological use of the concept of Nation, to confer legitimacy to the Empire through the invocation of a historical mission, was challenged by democratic events and by an economic development that had as its model the bourgeois societies of Central Europe.
During the 1990s, the rekindling of nationalism in Portugal was helped when a relatively recent Democratic Party, the Democratic Renovation Party (PRD), lost parliamentary representation, beginning its decay, accumulation of debt and eventual collapse. With no connection to any traditional European political - ideological family, PRD can be viewed as an epiphenomenon, whose meteoric rise was achieved through accumulating protest votes against the austere policies of the leading political parties - the PS (socialist) and the PSD (social-democratic). Without classical ideological references, or strong sociological roots, the Party followed an unavoidable path to decline. Following this decline, elements from ancient National Action (extreme-right wing) paid the Party's debts and changed its name to the National Renovation Party. Right-wing extreme nationalism had arrived in Portugal again, and for the first time since 25th April, the date of the Democratic `Carnation Revolution'. During some subsequent public events concerned with immigration, the National Renovation Party became an active political actor trying to take advantage of a certain hostile mood towards immigrants, particularly those coming from Africa and Brazil.

Theoretical approaches towards media

Ideological and political phenomena in contemporary democratic societies need to obtain recognition and some kind of visibility from media. Some interesting phenomena converging with punctual demonstration of xenophobic nationalism were not possible without media intervention. Having in mind this, we must understand some problems concerned with the so called effects theory, the name generally given to a considerable amount of research effort devoted to assessing the influence of the mass media on attitudes and opinions (Hartman and Husband, 1973: 271).
The first era of the effects theory was influenced by a view of people as atomised units of "mass society", whose stimulus-response psychology was seen as responding in a straightforward way to the stimulus of message. That tradition was characterized by a search for direct and short-term effects and, from this perspective, the effects were first seen as very strong. Propaganda, according to this point of view, achieves its goals through a theoretical formulation that became known as `the magic bullet' - that is to say, a bullet of high precision that never missed its target.
In a second stage of research, there emerged an approach generally conceived as a limited effects paradigm, which established a form of orthodoxy in place until the 1960s. According to this approach, the media are ordinarily viewed as a necessary but not a sufficient cause of audience effects, acting as part of a nexus of mediating factors and influences. The effects of media must take into account the original predispositions of audiences. Of the three types of effects identified - reinforcement, modification and conversion - the reinforcement of pre-existing attitudes was the most frequently observed effect. Finally, this kind of approach emphasised the effects of small groups and of opinion leaders (Klapper, 1960: 15-31). But still, these particular analyses of the media were concerned with short-term effects, relevant to some particular circumstances, such as electoral or advertising campaigns
Finally, the social influence of the mass media began to be analysed by more sophisticated approaches coming from varied paradigms: cultural studies, phenomenological approaches, sociology of culture and even from empirical sociology, alongside contribution from researchers within the traditional effects theory who were, by now, much more concerned with culturalist and cognitive dimensions. There are good reasons for this continued interest in research in the effects tradition. In first place, the nature of mass media the kind of ideologies that they generate, together with simple physical limitation of time and space and the need to attract readers and viewers, impose constraints both on what events make the news and on the kind of treatment they receive. Second, Western cultural heritage and tradition contain elements which act to classify other races and ethnic groups. The media operate within such cultures and so are obliged to use cultural symbols. The prevalence of images and stereotypes, derived from the colonial experience and at least implicitly derogatory to other ethnic groups and races, are visible in jokes, fears and small talk.
Finally, we have the news values: the criteria that define which events will be chosen to become news. One feature that makes events more newsworthy is their ability to be interpreted within a familiar framework or in terms of existing images, stereotypes and expectations. Arguably, the key to a more accurate understanding of the role of the mass media is to accept the existence of a continuous interplay between events, cultural meanings and news frameworks.
This article will now be oriented to research hypotheses concerned with discourse and cognition, drawing on two main bodies of thought: first, theories of the social construction of reality, specifically oriented to the study of frames; and the critical analysis of discourse, a body of work that analyses the connections between racism and media - adopting, however, strong premises from the cognitive approach.

Socio-cognitive approach: typification and frame analysis

The distinctive feature of a socio-cognitive approach is the belief that our knowledge of reality is a mental construct, a product from everyday life intersubjective experience. Social dynamics are not perceived in themselves; they cannot be perceived without meaning attributed to them. Above all, Alfred Schutz has analysed social experience from a Husserlian point of view and draws a strong attempt to demonstrate that intentional (object-directed) consciousness is the basis of our experiences of the everyday Life-World. All the work of Schutz is explicitly directed towards clarifying the concept of subjective meaning - a task that, in Schutz's eyes, remained unfinished in Weber's work.
His approach is particularly central to very important traditions in Western thought - micro-sociology and frame analysis. Both are supported by the phenomenology of the social world of Alfred Schutz, the later developments from Berger and Luckmann and applied to the media by Tuchman, Gitlin, Cohen and others. Although these theories can be viewed critically given their absence of references to power and domination, they can be used to look closely to the everyday work of belief, attitudes and knowledge building.
This tradition maintains that in the everyday life-world there is a level of common sense thought, where people accept typifications as a resource, constructing socially shared objective meanings to avoid uncertainty (Correia: 2005: 38-39). People, in everyday life, suspend their doubts in order to turn their world into a safer one (Schutz, 1976). Such an attitude assumes a reliable premise in the permanence of the structures of the world: one trusts that the world will remain as it has been known up until now. Thus, experience will continue to preserve its basic validity (Schutz and Luckmann, 1973:7). The familiarity with social reality implies an organized standard of routine (Schutz, 1976: 108) learned from the knowledge of "prescriptions" and typical behaviours (Schutz, 1975: 94-95).
`Common sense perceptions' are perceptions on the basis of types. These are constructed out of socially available stock of knowledge at hand and they are applied in the actual interpretative process of daily life on the basis of practical purposes of the social actor. As Tuchman, closely following the concepts of Schutz, correctly reminds us: "temporal planning characterizes social action as project. That is, social action is carried out in the future perfect tense. Action is cast into the future in order to accomplish acts that will happened, should everything go as anticipated" (Tuchman, 1978: 41).
From this perspective, the use of typifications appears as an a priori component of a social reality. The construction of typifications is a kind of crystallization of the experience that allows stability, preserving some characteristics and providing the basis for the solution of practical tasks presented to social agents. In face of each new situation, the actor will look for similar past events, and so s/he will act in a similar way as before, following the principle that things will remain identical. Whereas stereotypes have to be maintained by ignorance, typifications arise from familiarity and extensive knowledge of the typified actor or action.
The notion of typification has known an extensive development in ethnomethodological research, especially in what concerns the sociology of professional ideologies. In the domain of Journalism Theory, Gaye Tuchman shows how everyday news work can be seen as a question of "routinizing the unexpected." As part of the process of routinisation, journalists make use of different news categories and typifications in order to reduce the contingency of news work. "Newsworkers use typifications to transform the idiosyncratic occurrences of the everyday world into raw materials that can be subjected to routine processing and dissemination" (Tuchman, 1978: 50). In journalism, everyday practice develops a set of procedures to assure the coverage of a well-defined subject. This set of procedures implies the learning on accumulated experience, to allow for stability in what concerns the approach for similar events. The routines and typifications are established standards of behaviour, procedures that, without great risk or complications, assure that journalists, under the pressure of time, can rapidly transform the event into a news story (Traquina, 1993:32 - 33).
Typifications are different from categories. While the later refers to the classification of objects according to one or more relevant characteristics ruled salient by classifiers in a process of formal analysis, typifications refer to the performance of practical tasks, being constituted and grounded in everyday activity (Tuchman, 1978: 50). As typifications are parts of the professional stock of knowledge, being a professional reporter capable of dealing with idiosyncratic occurrences means being able to use adequate typifications. The problem is that typifications are seductive; they are, in some way, artificial constructs, that may lead reporters to apply stereotypes, easy simplifications and incorrect labels.

Frames and typifications

The cognitive notion of frame appears, generally, as a set of presuppositions or evaluative criteria within which a person's perception of a particular subject seem to occur. The notion has been expounded by a great number of disciplines: from the psychology of perception and Gestalt theory, including the well-known experiments with figure-ground pictures, such as the example of the two faces and a vase; from linguistics, where the Sapir/Whorf hypothesis maintains that linguistic structures and the terminology available to us constitute frames of reference which direct our attention to certain aspects of the world whilst hiding others (Whorf1, 1956); from social psychology, where stereotyping and prejudice have been regarded as cognitive processes in which all members of a given class of objects or people are treated as equivalent (Lippman, 2002: 28-29); from Communication Theory (Bateson, 2000; Goffman, 1986) and, also, from ethnomethodology's development of Schutzian "typifications".
To Bateson, the frame concept is rooted in the study of communicative interaction. Bateson introduced the notion of a frame as a meta-communicative device that gives to the receiver instructions or aids in its attempt to understand the messages included within the frame. He showed that interaction always involves interpretative frameworks by which participants define how others' actions and words should be understood. Bateson presents frames with the help from analogies: the physical analogy from the picture frame, and the more abstract analogy of a mathematical set. Frames are simultaneously including and exclusive devices, because including certain messages and meaningful actions excludes others. So, the frame is a kind of message intended to order or to organize the perception of the viewer, saying: "Attend to what is within and do not attend to what is outside". Hence, frames imply an orientation to reality somewhat similar with the Gestalt psychology: we must to attend figure and ground, emphasising the perception of the first one, and positively inhibiting the second one (Bateson, 2000: 177-193; 184-188; 190-192).
Twenty years later, frame analysis was introduced to sociological research by Goffman to refer to mental constructions that allow its users to locate, perceive, identify and label a seemingly infinite numbers of concrete occurrences (Goffman, 1986: 21). According to Berger's Foreword "The Frame in frame analysis refers to this inevitable relational dimension of meaning. A frame, in this sense, is only a particular tangible metaphor for what other sociologists have tried to invoke by words like `background', `setting', `context', or a phrase like `in terms of'. These all attempt to convey that what goes on interaction is governed by usually unstated rules or principles more or less implicitly set by the character of some large, tough perhaps invisible, entity, (for example, the definitions of situation) within which the interaction occurs" (p.xiii).
This set of unstated rules or principles was, in Goffman's words, very similar to the sense used by Bateson (Goffman, 1986: 7). So, frames are, more or less, basic elements which govern social events and our subjective involvement in them (Goffman, 1986: 10). In Journalism Theory, frames have also made a strong appearance as cognitive elements structuring which parts of reality become noticed. Todd Gitlin is responsible for a widely quoted elaboration of the concept: "Frames are principles of selection, emphasis and presentation composed of little tacit theories about what exists, what happens, and what matters" (Gitlin, 1980: 6). While Frames, are principles of organization which govern social events and the subjective involvement of the social actor, the strip is "an arbitrary slice or cut from the stream of ongoing activity" (Goffmann, 1986, 10-11). Frames turn unrecognizable happenings into a discernible event. They allow us to see the figure against the ground. Typifications are related to frames but in a more practical way, telling us how to act in front of a recognizable and already framed event. While frames help us to evaluate a situation, typifications are more connected with a stock of practical knowledge, very similar to receipts. Finally, all those concepts are commonly regarded as intersubjective constructs, built in everyday common life by common man, in order to rule its practical purposes within the world.
The limits of the microsociological approach are the absence of one methodological tool at the level of discourse and, sometimes, but not always, a kind of dismissal of problems concerned with power and domination. As Tuchman (1978: 195) put it, Goffman is not interested in the institutional mechanisms that are related with the organization of experience. However, I think that some of these problems can be faced by, at least, some suggestions coming from the critical analysis of discourse.

Critical Discourse Analysis

The so-called linguist turn has had a clear influence on many theories concerned with journalism and mediated communication. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a perspective that refuses neutrality from research and researcher, defining its goals in political, social and cultural terms, looking to language as social practice (Maria Emília Pedro, 1997: 15). So, CDA pays much attention to social phenomena such as social power and domination, discrimination, racism, xenophobia and so on. The authors engaged with this approach believe that phenomena such as representation of power and reproduction of domination can be understood through studying some characteristics of texts such as vocabulary and metaphors, micro-structures and schemata strategies, grammatical features, implications and presuppositions, politeness conventions, or style (Pedro, 1997: 34-35).
However, there is not a necessary rupture with a cognitive approach. The critical enterprise doesn't mean to embrace a determinist point of view where all psychological dimensions of social and discursive practices were ignored, to focus only on the discursive level, acting as a mirror of the systemic and institutional level. Teun van Dijk - the most remarkable representative author of this approach, which seems to sustain a more emphatic concern with cognitive dimensions of social practices - explicitly and significantly supports the purposes of Tuchman in very precise terms: "Her book, perhaps the most interesting and innovating sociological study of news production, takes an ethnomethodological approach. (....) such routines are described as everyday accomplishments of reconstructing reality as news and, at the same time, as enactments of the institutional processes in which newsmaking takes place. News is not characterized as a picture of reality, which may be correct or biased, but as a frame through which the social world is routinely constructed" (van Dijk, 1988: 7).
To van Dijk, every discourse implies construction and interpretation - processes that don't occur in vacuum, with social dimensions of discourse interacting with cognitive dimensions (van Dijk, 2004: 14-16). This kind of cognitive critical approach proposes a new conceptualisation of ideology, a concept that it can be reconciled with the notion of the frame. Ideologies are social representations shared by members of a group, allowing group members to organize a multitude of social beliefs, for instance, what is good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair, and so on. They are presented almost as axioms of a formal system, consisting of the more general and abstract social beliefs that control or organize the more specific knowledge and opinions (attitudes) of a group (Idem, 2003: 49), and are assumed to be organized by mental and social group schema consisting of a number of fundamental categories that codify the ways that self and others are defined as members of the group (Idem, 2003: 151). This is particularly visible in racist ideologies and their strategies of inclusion and exclusion. Ideological opinions structure many of the aspects of discourse, such as topic selection, lexical choice, semantic moves as well as style and rhetoric. Ideologies first of all control the formation of the mental models of the events we talk about, that is, the semantics of text and talk. 2
Van Dijk also built a model to the structural analysis of some dimensions of news discourse, defining as a major aim of CDA "to produce explicit and systematic descriptions of units of language use that we have called discourse" (van Dijk, 1988: 24). This model of description implies the use of some kind of macro-semantics, which deal with global meanings and allow us to describe the meanings of whole paragraphs, sections or chapters within discourse. Those macro-structures are characterized in terms of propositions, which van Dijk labels macro-propositions (1998: 32). The macro-structures consist of several macro-propositions, such as the topics or the summary of text; these topics relate each other in a hierarchal structure, defined by macro-rules. Macro-rules reduce information, deleting the details considered not relevant to the text, replacing a sequence of propositions for a more abstract generalization, or summary, of a sequence of propositions.
Here, van Dijk explicitly argues for a cognitive complement of the theory of macrostructures, which implies a clear reference to the analysis of frames (van Dijk, 1998: 34). In the building of discourse, there is a top down processing that must to be activated by frames that arise from the social knowledge of world. The cognitive element frame will be expressed not only in the topic but also in all the choices that are going to be made in order to express the axiomatic rules presented in the described event.
However, in the news there are some semantic features - that is, the headline and lead - that give us the kernel of the frame, because of their high level of generalization and abstraction. This does not mean that the frame is not present in less general paragraphs or propositions concerning with details and specifications. The cognitive dimension of discourse and the presence of the frame, in my point of view, will be expressed in the particular kind of coherence that is maintained between the most abstract and the most concrete level.
In conjunction with macro-semantics there are macro-syntactic structures that characterize the overall forms of discourse, structures that van Dijk labels schemata or superstructures (1988: 26). Many other types of texts also have a structure implying schematic strategies - that is, organizational patterns and conventional categories, such as the various forms of opening or closing a discourse, specific narrative conventions on. This overall syntax defines the possible forms in which topics or themes can be inserted and ordered in the actual text. In this particular case, news text has been object of attention by narratology in what concerns the search of archetypal narrative categories.
CDA also directs its attention to the microstructures of news discourse. Local semantics focuses on propositions, just as macro-semantics deals with macro-propositions. Here, the strategic demands of local coherence is such that the language user looks for the possible connections among facts denoted by propositions. Frequently, facts denoted in this way showed identical referents. Sequences of propositions constitute discourse if they satisfy a number of coherence conditions such as conditional relations between the facts denoted by these sentences and functional relations (such as generalization, specification, contrast) among sentences or propositions (van Dijk, 2003: 206). So, the second sentence may be used as an explanation of the first sentence but it can also be a generalization, a specification correction, or a contrast or an alternative to the first sentence.
In what we call a functional coherence, a Proposition B has a specific function related to a previous proposition A. There is also the case of conditional coherence, which is not based on relations between propositions or sentences but on relations between the facts denoted by those propositions or sentences. At the level of local coherence we must have in mind the importance of presupposition and implicature. In formal terms, a presupposition, q, is presupposed by p if it will be implicit in p and not in - p. Any proposition accepted by the speaker but that is not explicitly declared is a presupposition (van Dijk, 1988: 64).
There are also stylistic and rhetorical strategies. Style has to do with establishing connections between discourse and the personal and social context of parole - that is, "it's the result of choices made by the speaker among optional variations in discourse forms that may be used to express more or less the same meaning" (van Dijk, 1998: 27). It's a major indication of the role performed by context, namely in specific social situations: a courtroom, a classroom, a parliamentary speech, the degree of familiarity with the listener, and so on. Style is always a marker of social properties of speakers of the socio-cultural situation of the speech event. In the case of news discourse, van Dijk correctly points out that news discourse is a public discourse type that presupposes a vast amount of generally shared knowledge, beliefs, norms and values. News is in some ways impersonal because it is not expressed by a single author but by an institution; style also accords with the topic (e.g. the coverage of a pop concert will not be as formal as the coverage of the signing of an international treaty) (van Dijk, 1988: 76).
Finally, news discourse uses rhetorical strategies to enhance the organization, the storage and the retrieval of textual information by the listener or reader (van Dijk, 1998: 28). Such rhetorical strategies can also enhance the appearance of truth and plausibility. News reports are written in a way that implies a subtle claim from the hidden speaker: "Believe me!" Hence rhetoric must enhance the factual nature of the discourse, with the direct description of ongoing events, evidence of close eyewitness and other reliable sources, signs that indicate accuracy and exactness (such as number, names, places, hours, events) and direct quotes from sources, especially when opinions are involved. News rhetoric also needs to built a strong relational structure for facts, such as referring to previous events as conditions and causes and predicting next events as consequences; inserting facts in well-known situation models that make them relatively familiar; using well-known scripts, and concepts that belong to the script, and trying to organize facts in well-known specific structures.
Finally, news discourse must also provide information that has also attitudinal and emotional dimensions: showing facts that involve strong emotions and present direct quotes of different opinions coming from different ideological stances (van Dijk, 1998: 82-85).

The ideological role of the media: framing Carcavelos Beach

The contradictions and perplexities of a society, characterized by differentiated attitudes described in the sections above, came to light with an `attack by a teen street gang' on Carcavelos Beach, allegedly perpetrated on the Portuguese National Day (10 June 2005). According to the media, this attack involved about 500 young Africans from the quarters (slums) surrounding Lisbon. An `attack by teen street gang' is a possible translation for the word arrastão, the name publicly given to the phenomenon, based on similar events in Brazil.
In the afternoon of 10 June, Portuguese broadcasters opened their news programmes with reports that an organized robbery of great dimensions had taken place on Carcavelos Beach. According to RTP (Radio Televisão Portuguesa): "In the beginning of the afternoon, groups of 30 to 50 young African boys, simultaneously and in apparently organized actions, had assaulted and attacked the swimmers in different parts of the beach." For SIC (Channel 3), a cinematographic metaphor was the most adequate one: it was a "scene of a film"; for TVI (Channel 4), the language was picked up from tabloids, describing "one afternoon of terror and panic in Carcavelos".
TVI and SIC showed photos that allegedly show the violence of the attack and the modus operandi that started with two gunshots. According to RTP, the photos showed an amount of people caught by surprise. For the newspaper PUBLICO (11 June 2005), "half a thousand youths, between 12 and 20 years, advanced for the beach and, until the police arrived, they stole what they wanted from swimmers who were enjoying the holiday there." For the Diario de Notícias (DN), "the beach of Carcavelos was invaded by a wave of thieves". According to Correio da Manhã (CM, 11 June 2005) "The terror started when about 500 youngsters and girls, organized in groups, started `to sweep' the beach of Carcavelos, where there were thousands of people, stealing from and attacking however they wanted. For a moment, the events recalled the `frequent attacks by teen street gangs' on Brazilian beaches."
On the days that followed, there was much speculation about a threat of attack by teen street gangs on beaches of the Algarve and about the capacity of the GNR (National Republican Guard) in annulling any new attempt. For example, PÚBLICO (12 June 2005) claimed "the fear of group assaults arrives at Quarteira". According to this periodical, "a group of fifty youths, after one rave in a disco-house of Vilamoura, invaded the beach, beginning panic between local swimmers and traders". The DN (12 June 2005) told the same story: "Everything happened for 11 hours, when about 50 youths, the majority youngsters, between 23 and 25 years - many of whom were resident in the Bairro of Cova da Moura - after spending the night in one rave party, close to Vilamoura, had provoked a disturbance on the beach in the Town of Loulé, Algarve."
The photos showed by RTP, TVI and SIC, and on the front pages of CM, DN and Público, didn't leave any doubts concerning the existence of an organized action. The media then started to listen to experts. Rui Pereira, Professor of Law, former director of Secret Information Service and expert in security matters, was quoted saying "we cannot have any complacency concerning this kind of incident". Moita Flores, criminologist, told the RTP that the phenomenon was "a meeting of gangs, similar to other well known occurrences on the Beaches of Rio de Janeiro." Barra da Costa, author of a book called The Gang and The School, informed the journalist Céu Neves from DN (11 June 2005) "We can talk about a typical anti-social reaction coming from juvenile delinquents".
On the days that followed, newspapers published all kinds of material on the subject: interviews with political leaders presenting projects to increase the police presence (PÚBLICO, 12 June 2005; DN, 12 June 2005), and news about the damage provoked in the tourism (CM12 June 2005).

The media strategy

Several certainties were consolidated on the first day: there has been an arrastão that mobilized hundreds of young people; the event provoked terror; that the majority of youngsters were African; and the event was similar to several to those occurred in Rio de Janeiro. These three facts - the terror, the ethnic origin of the criminals and the similarity with events of Rio de Janeiro - become very well established in the first hours of the event. This means that we may identify a cognitive frame that was established to understand reality. As an anthropologist, Miguel Vale de Almeida, simply stated: "This was the arrastão that Portuguese were looking for." This frame contains several elements that drive the discursive macrostructures:
  1. Hundreds of youngsters launch panic in Carcavelos Beach, near Lisbon.
  2. They come from the slums of Lisbon, so are very likely to be black people.
  3. They use the same modus operandi from black street kids from the favelas in Rio.
With these dimensions, the news could inscribe the events within a very well-known script.
The macrostructures of all the news discourse on arrastão were completely visible and emphasised these ideas. The semantic macro-rules that expressed the main topic of the coverage were very easy to understand when we look the extensive dossier of newspaper reporting from the day after the event. The most general proposition is provided by several headlines, for instance: "Terror on the Beach" (CM, 11 June 2005), and "Arrastão in Carcavelos Beach" (DN, 11 June 2007). Following this, the leads were completely assertive, closing down any chance of an alternative description: "When the first thirteen policeman arrive at the beach, they didn't want to believe their eyes" (CM, 11 June 2005). The description assumed (in direct speech from the speaker, as if he was the police officer arriving at the beach) that hundreds of thieves were running from one side of the beach to the other. The police source said to CM that, while they were observing the situation, hundred of persons were running to the officers present on the beach, telling them that the thieves have stolen "mobiles, their power cables, everything" (CM, 11 June 2005). In the case of DN, "The panic appeared on Carcavelos Beach yesterday in the afternoon when four hundred individuals, in gangs, suddenly started to assault and attack the swimmers" (11 June 2005). The DN report included a photo depicting members of the police and several other people, some of them black and young, in such a way that it is difficult to see the kind of action performed by the civilians: are they running? Are they being pursued by the police? Are some of them participating in a collective assault or are the just taking their bags and chairs running from the confusion? The caption read: "Panic. The police estimated that there were more than five hundred participants in the assault, with ages between twelve and twenty. The officers have fired shots into the air to frighten the youngsters". In DN we find a text-box, containing the following headline: "The act has to have been prepared". In the text following this headline, there is the statement of an expert, a criminologist, who gave a general opinion about this kind of gang juvenile delinquency - that it involved hungry persons from the slums - whilst the first page used an inflammatory headline: "Brazilian arrastão arrives at Carcavelos"!
The leads in these articles were followed by very similar descriptions (written in the present tense, as if we were following live coverage) of policeman, armed with machine-guns, surrounding and watching hundreds of black youngsters, and detailing the development of the event (CM; DN). It was as if the established facts only existed to be commented upon; the youngsters, referred to as marginals, were from the problematic slums of Lisbon, especially from Chelas e Amadora, as the Mayor of Cascais, António Capucho, explained to the newspapers (DN, CM and Público). Another article on the cover of CM was given the headline: "Arrastão comes from Brazil". This kind of angle was only a pretext to reinsure the factuality of the descriptions, establishing a precedent that can be useful to provide more details about "this kind of crime".
Two days after the event, a new event, also located in the tourist zone of Algarve, was described as Arrastão, but in this case "The GNR (National Republican Guard) stopped a wave in Albufeira". In the same article (CM, 12 June 2005), there also appears the argument that this is organized crime: Police have apparently identified "group leaderships". The selective quotation of only experts and politicians is used in these reports to present facts as they were already established. For instance, one quoted businessman believed that with the arrastão, his tourism business is ruined (CM, 12 June 2005).
At the micro-level, and specifically concerning local coherence, we can find in the coverage of this event some significant functional connections among sentences - especially with examples, specifications, generalizations, contrasts and so on. Quotation and the use of witnesses can be viewed as specifications of newspaper statements. They enhance, for example, sentences that make strong references to lack of safety and the absence of policies. After giving his statement - "They walk in groups and people were afraid" - one eyewitness is described as holding his bag in his hand, walking for his home. That description is used in the text as a demonstration of his fear, running from the event he describes (CM, 12 June 2005).
The uses of implicature and presupposition are omnipresent in almost all the texts: the references in both newspapers to the slums of Lisbon, the comparisons with Rio de Janeiro, and the ideas that the slums of Lisbon are both problematic and well known to the Police, implies a lot of presumed shared knowledge about the kind of crime and the profile of criminals. Without saying anything explicitly, the `ethnic problem' is raised as the real issue.
In relation to style, there is an abundant use of direct reportage, as if the reporter wants to take the reader to the scene of the event. Local and human details powerfully strengthen this strategy. The style is always colourful, assertive, with intensified active verbs and substantives (the terror, as substantive identity). Concerning rhetoric, the texts are particularly rich, exemplifying the rhetoric of authenticity described by van Dijk: they make frequent and specific use of numbers (five hundred), ages (between twelve and twenty years) and the exact origins and neighbourhoods of the perpetrators. They provide the exact number of police officers that were on the beach when the events began (thirteen), the exact time that phone calls began to be made to the Police Station (3.00p.m.), and also the exact location of the bar that featured at the close of the event.
The amazing developments after this event astonished the country, with the full controversy relating to the `attack by teen street gang' arising a little time after the events: On June 17th, the Metropolitan Commander of the Lisbon PSP gave additional clarifications: first, that "of a large group of 400 or 500 people, only 30 or 40 had practiced illicit activities"; second that "many youths that had appeared on television and in photographic images running in the beach of Carcavelos on that day, were not assailants, but just ordinary young people that ran away"; and third, that "the assaults were very small in number and not the product of elaborate organization." On 21 June 2005, the High Commissary for the Emigration and Ethnic Minorities lamented "the enormous negative impact of the journalistic errors committed in the covering of the events".
On June 30th, the Office of Emigration released a documentary entitled "Once Upon a Time ...an Arrastão" (Era uma vez um Arrastão), produced by Diana Adringa, an RTP journalist and former-chair of the Union of Journalists. The documentary included some interviews that translated significant doubts on the existence of the attack. Later, on July 7th, Diana Adringa interviewed the Metropolitan Commander of the Lisbon PSP, who revealed that "an Arrastão did not happen" More specifically, Oliveira Pereira said he "already knew this about one hour later. However, when I wanted to communicate this, to clarify the official notice, it was very difficult." On July 19th, the PSP finally formally denied the existence of any attack by teen street gangs on Carcavelos Beach, in a report presented to the Constitutional Commission of Civil Rights and Freedoms.
According with BBC (quoted by on-line journal Portugal Diário, 18 June 2005), after the Arrastão, nationalists made their greatest protest since the re-establishment of democracy in 1974. "More than five hundred persons demonstrated by the centre of Lisbon asking for the end of crimes and expulsion of illegal emigrants" The media accepted the presupposed existence of an arrastão that caused revolt among the population, and accepted the connection between immigration and crime. After this event, nationalists have given a large number of interviews to the national media, appearing on Television programmes and in newspapers. In March 2007, the President of the National Renovation Party was interviewed by Diário de Notícias, after the organisation of an outdoor event in the Marquês de Pombal Square that called for no more immigrants to Portugal. The leader emphasised the economic sacrifice made by nationalists in hosting this event: "It's the only one. The event in Marquês de Pombal Square has cost 1750 Euros, from start to end, and there is not enough money for more. It was paid for with donations from militants, because PNR it is not a rich party. We have chosen a central point of Lisbon, with lots of visibility, because it's an issue that any other party in Portugal has the courage of pointing out. We are being invaded."

New angles to emigration

After the arrastão, several incidents, including the nationalist demonstrations, began to show a change of mood in Portuguese public opinion concerning the ways it related itself to "strangers" and "foreigners". This article has not offered a definitive analysis of these texts, and has worked instead in a more exemplified style in order to draw some general insights. We feel it is necessary to launch a programme of research with journalism studies, drawing on the contribution of Critical Discourse Analysis, Social Phenomenology, Social Psychology and Theory of Communication. As part of this research, we feel that some hypotheses must be tested and studied. Among them we emphasise the following:
a) The media are powerful ideological institutions that allow people to share social beliefs. In this narrow sense, they turn ideology into common sense to be shared by average people and vice-versa.
b) Ideologies are systems of beliefs about identity - that is to say they employ criteria of inclusion and exclusion in social groups. Racism and nationalism are strongly persuasive when they relate closely to everyday-life, exploiting the apparitions and anxieties of ordinary people. Hence, ideology must also be studied as a cognitive phenomenon.
c) Frames must also be studied as cognitive phenomena, rooted in everyday life through communicative interaction. Their study must be coupled with the study of ideology in order to study the up-down movement of cognitive processing of social data.
d) The articulation between these two levels of cognitive phenomena has political consequences concerning the relationships between the system and life-world.
e) In turn, this has methodological consequences, because it requires an integration of ethnographic methods and discourse analysis.
f) Finally, this methodological approach may open to us up to a way of making the bridge between cognitive processes and discourse at journalistic level.
The conclusions above, provide productive working arguments to examine in research projects on the Critical Study of Journalism, taking into account the need for further theoretical and methodological developments to the understand the new phenomena of online journalism.


Bateson, Gegory, (2000) A Theory on Play and Fantasy in Steps to an ecology of mind, The Chicago University Press.
Correia, João Carlos (2005) A Teoria da Comunicação de Alfred Schutz, Lisboa, Livros Horzonte.
Gitlin, Todd. (1980) The Whole World is Watching Berkeley, University of California Press.
Goffman, Erving (1986) Frame Analysis, Boston , Northeasthern University Press,
Klapper, Joseph T. (1960) The Effects of mass communication, New York , The Free Press.
Lippmann, Walter, Public Opinion available at: http://www.the-wow-collec
Oliveira Marques, António (1986) História de Portugal, III Vol., Lisboa, Paulas.
Pedro, Emília Ribeiro (1997) Análise crítica do discurso: aspectos teóricos, metodológicos e analíticos in Emília Ribeiro Pedro (Org.), Análise Crítica do Discurso, Lisboa, Caminho.
Pinto, António Costa (2002) Portugal and European integration: an introduction. Text available: http://ies.berkeley.edu/research/files/ CP02/CP02-Port_Euro_Integration.pdf (consulted 9 June 2007).
Pinto, António Costa & Teixeira, Nuno Severiano (2004) From Atlantic past to European destiny of Portugal, in Wolfram Kaiser and Jurgen Elvert (eds.), European Union Enlargement. London and New York: Routledge, pp.112-130, available at: http://www.ics. ul.pt/corpocientifico/
antoniocostapinto/pdf/08chap6.pdf (consulted 22 June 2007).
Santos, Boaventura Sousa (1994) Pela Mão de Alice: o Social e o Político na Pós-Modernidade, Lisboa, Afrontamento.
Schutz, Alfred & Luckmann, Thomas (1973) The structures of the life-world, Volume 1, Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
Schutz, Alfred (1976) Collected papers: studies in social theory, Vol. II, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff.
Schutz, Alfred (1975) Collected Papers III, The Hague, Martinus Nijjoff, 1975.
Van Dijk, Teun (1988) News as Discourse. Hillsdale, NJ. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Van Dijk, Teun (2003) Ideology: a multidisciplinary approach London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi, Sage Publishers.
Van Dijk, Teun (2004) Cognição, discurso e interacção, São Paulo, Contexto.
Whorf, Benjamin Lee (1956) Language, Thought, and Reality. John B. Carroll (Ed.) M.I.T. Press.


2Of course ideologies are not idealistically defined only in cognitive terms but also in terms of social groups and institutions. (Cfr. Van Dijk, 2003: 18-27). "Thus, if ideologies are belief systems, we need to be a little more specific and say that they are social beliefs systems (Van Dijk, 2003: 29).