Question• To what extent is human identity increasingly ‘mediated’?
Mediation• Mediated: How the media shapes your world and the way you live in it.• Thomas de Zengotita use of the word for his book Mediated: The Hidden Effects of the Media on You and Your World in which he asserts that almost everything (info, values, news, role models) comes to us through some media (TV, print, web, magazines, films) so will undoubtedly colour/influence our view of life and therefore our own self-definition.
Translation• How much of someone’s identity can be said to come about due to a thought process influenced by the media?• The process the audiences make in terms of understanding media representations and relating the media representations to themselves.• Also looking at how the media construct representations (making a conscious selection of what to include and how to present it) in order to create identities for individuals or groups of people.
Examples• Identity is constructed and mediated (it goes through a selection and organisation process). So how do British Youth use film and TV to help them organise and select their identity?
What collective identity can mean• Not just representations by mainstream media• Self construction by users of the media• Communities formed from shared identity: age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, cultural identities etc.
What collective identity can mean• Representation: the way reality is ‘mediated’ or ‘re-presented’ to us.• Collective Identity: the individual’s sense of belonging to a group (part of personal identity)• The idea is that through participating in social activities –in this case, watching films and television - individuals can gain a sense of belonging and in essence an ‘identity’ that transcends the individual. “
Theory• “A focus on Identity requires us to pay closer attention to the ways in which media and technologies are used in everyday life and their consequences for social groups” - David Buckingham.• Application of Gramsci’s theory of Hegemony – much of the media is controlled by the dominant group in society and the viewpoints associated with this group inevitably become embedded in the products themselves (i.e. via representation of race, class, gender, sexuality, for example), even if the promotion of these views isn’t conscious – dominant views come to be seen as the norm.
TASK• Referring to Buckingham’s theory how do you think one can use media and technology to create their identity?• Referring to Gramsci’s theory what do you think the dominant views are intwo of the texts you have watched?
Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman• The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general public. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to instill individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behaviour that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society.• Hegemony is a representational strategy of power; it involves the uses of representations to control people.
• Can we resist this representation?• Are audiences passive or active?• Can audiences be influenced by what they watch?• There are a number of theories about this.
• The Hypodermic Syringe theoryarguesthat audiences are passive and absorb what they see in the media and can be influenced by it.• Uses and Gratifications suggests audiences are active viewers and use the media in various ways to get some kind of gratification that will depend on the viewer..
How is identity formed?• We assume that people have an inner essence -- qualities beneath the surface which determine who that person really is.• Foucault rejected this view. For Foucault, people do not have a real identity within themselves; thats just a way of talking about the self.• An identity is communicated to others in your interactions with them, but this is not a fixed thing within a person. It is a shifting, temporary construction.
Theory• Gammon and Marshment(1998) stress the role of the audience in the construction of meaning from texts and suggest there is a range of interpretations offered by any text.• Henry Jenkins (1992): ‘Fans actively assert their mastery over the mass-produced texts which provide the raw material for their own cultural productions and the basis for their social interactions.’• Gary Giddens (1991) claims that mediated experiences make us reflect upon and rethink our own self- narrative in relation to others.
Summary• Chomsky and Herman-using representations to control people/identity• Foucault –identity changes over time• Gammon and Marshment- text can be interpreted in different ways by different people.• Jenkins –audience as active participants in constructing and circulating meaning.• Giddens- audiences compare self identities through what they consume.
Task• How can you relate the theory to the text?• Chomsky and Herman Top Boy• Foucault Quadrophenia + ATB• Gammon and MarshmentFishTank• Jenkins E20• GiddensInbetweeners
Gauntlett (2002):• By thinking about their own identity, attitudes, behaviour and lifestyle in relation to those of media figures – Role Models• The role model remains an important concept, not someone to copy, instead role models serve as navigation points as individuals steer their own personal routes through life.
Reflect or shape?• Media products provide numerous kinds of guidance - not necessarily in the obvious form of advice-giving, but in the myriad suggestions of ways of living which they imply.• Your life is your project. The media provides some of the tools which can be used in this work.• (People find different uses for different materials, too, so one persons bad tool might be a gift to another.)• (Gauntlett, 2002) I dont believe that experts can have the final word about representations, since representations are only meaningful when processed in the minds of individual audience members.
Reflect or shape?• It could be argued that Collective Identity exists but that it seems to difficult measure or ascertain HOW FAR British TV and film have helped to create a sense of collective identity.• Audience response to TV drama, for example, is rich and varied, but if Giddens and Gauntlett and current identity theory are correct, then it seems likely that audiences do, indeed, use these particular media examples to form a sense of identity, but along with many other aspects of life too.
Reflect or shape?• As to how much the media reflects collective identity as opposed to shaping it, It could be argued that you would need a detailed breakdown of the intentions of the film-makers, many of whom could have an agenda, often a political one driven by a leftish/liberal middle class view of what representation of working class life should be like; this political agenda and, therefore, certain themes, are less likely to be present in television soap opera which is attempting to be more ‘commercial’ and appeal to a larger audience within a set viewing pattern.
Conclusion• The idea of collective identity could be argued that audiences do draw on various aspects of their lives, including what they watch on television and in the cinema.
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