SOAS University of London

SOAS scholars address Hizbullah’s political communication in latest book

30 July 2014
The Hizbullah Phenomenon

Experts from the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) at SOAS, University of London have provided a detailed historical analysis of the political communication strategies of Hizbullah, the leading political group in Lebanon, in new book.

The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication, published by C Hurst & Co Publishers, UK, and by Oxford University Press, US, has been co-authored by Dina Matar, Senior Lecturer in Political Communication;  Lina Khatib, Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut and CMS Research Associate; and Dr Atef AlSharer, Senior Teaching Fellow.

The book provides a detailed exploration of Hizbullah’s political communication strategies and aims over a 30-year period, and addresses how Hizbullah used image, language and charismatic leadership to legitimise its political aims and ideology and appeal to different target groups in diverse socio-political contexts.

Dr Matar said: “From relatively humble beginnings in the 1980s, Hizbullah's political clout and its public perception have followed an upward trajectory. Its political programme blends military, social, economic and religious elements and adapts to changes in the environment. Its communication strategy is similarly adaptive, supporting the group's political objectives. Exploring how the group's political communication strategies evolved as the group itself evolved and adapted its image to different contexts gives us rich insights into the relationship between organisation and environment and between language and image, and improves our knowledge of how groups, Islamist parties and non-state actors operate and mobilise support."

Reviews

“The Hizbullah Phenomenon marks a welcome shift in research from the kinetic to the communicative evolution of this complex political organisation. It analyses forensically the way Hizbullah shapes its discourses at both strategic and tactical levels. Penetrative and revealing, this book builds on the authors' earlier work on the role of political imagery in the Middle East. A must-read for students, academics and policymakers.” --Neville Bolt, King's College London and author, The Violent Image: Insurgent Propaganda and the New Revolutionaries

“Unlike the states that can survive by coercion, social and political movements have to rest on intense publicity and self-presentation if they are to sustain and prosper. This book uncovers how the Lebanese Hizbullah has since its inception deployed an elaborate strategy of image-making to build its political communication. The Hizbullah Phenomenon is a valuable study on the interplay of culture, language, and the visual, on the one hand, and political mobilisation, on the other.' --Asef Bayat, Catherine and Bruce Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“This book presents an original and engaging overview of Hizbullah's ideology and strategy, the ways in which it communicates key messages to its constituency, and the means by which it adapts its communication tactics in response to local and regional political change. Drawing on a rich assortment of primary and secondary sources, The Hizbullah Phenomenon is accessible, very well written, and appealing to scholars on Islamic Movements, Lebanon watchers, and students of the Middle East.' --Michael Kerr, Professor of Conflict Studies and Director of the Middle East & Mediterranean Studies Programme, King's College London, and editor of The Alawis of Syria: War, Faith and Politics in the Levant