The Believers and the Disbelievers - An Occidentalist and Masculinist examination into the construction of ISIS and the West in Dabiq Magazine
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Following the emergence of ISIS, the organisation developed rapidly into becoming an established movement, demonstrating their success in seizing and holding territory, recruiting foreign fighters and developing an advanced propaganda machinery. The success of ISIS makes it important to investigate the forces behind their success, and the reality they construct themselves within. This project is concerned with investigating how ISIS construct themselves and the West in selected articles featured in Dabiq Magazine. Through a close-reading of three selected articles, this thesis explores the production of meaning, and to what extent this construction can be understood within an Occidentalist and Masculinist framework. This analysis demonstrates how ISIS draw on Occidentalist and Masculinist narratives in the production of a social hierarchy that places categories of people into a pecking order. ISIS is constructed as the elite within their alterative reality, where the West – as disbelievers – are portrayed as lesser breeds. Through the analysis, it becomes clear that ISIS is appealing to the readers’ masculinity in order to communicate forward the notions of ‘the ideal man’ within the ISIS discourse. The construction of ‘the ideal man’ is inherently connected to hyper- masculine behaviour, where humiliation and sexualisation of the enemy is emphasised. The analysis also uncovers how ISIS is producing a comprehensive system of meaning that constitutes the ‘common-sense’ that is being communicated. The aim of this thesis is to explore and to highlight the importance of a gendered perspective when investigating Occidentalist movements. Through a double- layered theoretical framework, this thesis hopes to examine the production of meaning within the ISIS discourse from an inter-disciplinary perspective.