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10 Social Inequality and Media Representation

10 Social Inequality and Media Representation - Reading and...

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Reading and Film Questions Week 10 Why does social inequality get reproduced in media? Because white, middle- and upper-class men have historically controlled the media industry, and media content has largely reflected their perspectives on the world. Therefore, the inequalities in the social world have affected the organization of the media industry that produces media products. Are media portrayals “realistic”? Why or why not? (What do we mean by “realistic”? What four issues must we consider when answering this question?) No. Content analyses of media products have repeatedly shown them to be quite different from key measurable characteristics of the social world. Issues: 1. Literature in media and cultural studies reminds us that representations are not reality, even if tempted to judge as such. Representations “are the results of processes of selection that invariably mean that certain aspects of reality are highlighted and others neglected. 2. Media usually do not try to reflect the real world, because it would defeat the purpose of many genres (i.e. science fiction, fantasy). The attraction of the genre lies in that it is not a reflection of the real world, but can be a commentary on it (i.e. Star Trek kiss of Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhuru in 1960s – interracial). 3. “Real” – the concept of “real world” seems like a quaint artifact. Social constructionist perspective teaches us that no representation of reality can ever be totally “true” or “real” since it must inevitably frame an issue and choose to include and exclude certain components of a multifaceted reality. However, some social facts are solid enough to serve as a measurement of reality (i.e. age distribution) . 4. The question itself seems to imply that the media should reflect society – premise not agreed on. Media as an escape barb2right “real” is irrelevant. What are the different ways in which scholars explain the source and significance of media content? Five ways to assess significance of media content 1. To Producers – Intent of program writers and producers Investigate social characteristics – disproportions, biases 2. To Audience Interests – What viewers enjoy watching / want to watch Media personnel are merely responding to the interests of their likely audience, not to their own interests or to influence the production process 3. To society in general – Gauge of social norms, values, and the interests of society in general 4. To audience effects – Potential effects on audiences – encouraging certain behaviors or decisions Content as a social influence on audiences 5. Examining content independent of context –
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