Let’s take the events of Nahr el Bared and the political deadlock as an initial environment from which media derive statements about modes of conduct.
First, an example of a program on Radio France 96.2
I have been listening a lot to this radio and this is a really representative sample of what it airs. Building on the ‘sad’ political situation in the country a hysterical radio presenter(ess) would go:
“On ne baissera pas les bras! On continuera à aller à la plage! à aller danser! Kool and the Gang vient au festival de Byblos contre vents et marées! This song is played right afterwards: “Ceeeeleebrate good times come on!” And the presenter concludes: “Célébrer l’été, la vie, l’amour. Aaah, je suis de bonne humeur aujourd’hui!“
Meanwhile, Sawt Lubnan 93.3 describes a completely different life:
The Nahr el Bared events become symptomatic of the general reluctance of public institutions to function properly. Instead of writing like L’Orient le jour that the battles are paralyzing fuel shipments in Tripoli, they try to address the question of how can the fuel trucks arrive in a more effective way to the factory of Deir Ammar in the north (The factory was hit by a rocket yesterday, although neither the employees nor the infrastructure was affected) as boats are landing on other ports (and by the way check this very informative article on why boats stay undischarged for months at Zahrani and Zouk, hint: Oil Cartel). On this station there are discussions of citizen’s demands from the various ministries. Denouncing corruption. Opened files such as electricity, water, etc.
One conclusion of all this is that there are no French media outlet (written, spoken, visualized), none whatsoever, that dedicates its program to real social issues. So no wonder that you have a francophone population that is mainly unaware or oblivious of such issues but very much vociferous about hazy concepts of “independence” and “rule of law” tainted sometimes by mild racism..
Social and economic issues are indeed debated in Lebanon but mostly in Arabic. To some extent, you can find some voiced in English. This is why I would argue that the English-speaking community is already more aware of things. So some English-French speakers but most importantly readers, may be more in touch with what’s going on (Daily Star has some good stuff being written from time to time, although this hits a very narrow portion of english speakers, not those who don’t read obviously). There is no fully fledged English language radio station. I think radio is a very important media outlet especially among the average working class.
Language is of course a crystallizer of social difference, bringing to light different practices among different niches in the economy, or in symbolic capital (as Bourdieu would have it, and to please Al Haqid).
Another conclusion is that bulk of the population, I would speculate, the urban middle to lower class (if I may permit myself such simplifying categorization for the sake of this point) are fully conscious of what’s going on. Not only that but they engage in complex debates about the advantages and disadvantages of government and opposition groups. They are generally wary of politicians, etc. Now what’s the link between social consciousness and actual mobilization?