INTRODUCTION TO REPRESENTATION Representation is concerned with how media texts present and mediate ideas of the following: People: How are they represented? What activities are they doing? Places: How is this place ‘given’ to its audience? Events: In the represented event, what is included and what parts
When we analyse representations, we must constantly ask questions of the text DEFINE: Institutions Fairness and accuracy Access Audience Ideology
You have already encountered representation during your AS study and will understand that it is a difficult concept. Representation can be understood as how groups, events, places and experiences are represented in media texts. It can be a depiction or description of something, someone or an event. It may involve symbolising or standing in for what is being represented, for example, red roses or hearts are used to symbolise love and romance. REVISING REPRESENTATION
Understanding the context in which media texts are produced includes keeping up to date with and understanding the current media debates and issues that are taking place in both the popular media and the academic study of media. Looking at the media supplement of the Guardian newspaper on Monday’s or reading the online version from the Guardian’s website are good ways of doing this. ADDRESSING ISSUES
REFLECTIVE VIEW : A reflective view of representation suggests that while the media does reflect reality, it also mediates it through the media language and narrative to give a certain perspective . ADDRESSING ISSUES
CONSTRUCTIONIST VIEW : The constructionist view of representation is a more complex understanding of representation. You have already encountered this approach at AS. This approach suggests that our understanding or knowledge of the world is constructed by representations , found in a range of media texts utilising media language and narrative. ADDRESSING ISSUES
Sometimes a constructionist approach is clear to see, for example, the British media coverage of the final Rugby World Cup match in Paris in October 2007 focused on the penalties, the ‘disallowed try’ and how ‘bravely or impressively’ the England team played . This version was constructed through the media process of representation. The South African media naturally, focused on the positive aspects of South Africa’s game – portraying a different version of reality to a different audience. ADDRESSING ISSUES
A similar debate around whether media simply responds to changes in cultural, social and political environments, or in fact influences those changes can be framed around the women’s magazine Cosmopolitan . The magazine remodelled itself in 1965 to become a more sexually aware and ‘sassy’ publication in line with changing attitudes to sexuality and the beginnings of the feminist movement. Was this change a reflection of the cultural attitudes of the era or did it contribute to changing those attitudes? ADDRESSING ISSUES
What are STEREOTYPES? Media producers rely on the instant recognition of stereotypes by the audience Stereotypical characters have exaggerated characteristics, and can be recognised through things like dress, appearance, accent, behaviour etc. Stereotypes can be negative if they demean a social group . They can help to reinforce ideas about a social group that they are trying to get rid of.
Impact of Representations
When we study representations we
should look at how the technical
language of media images helps
communicate a view of
how the world is.
The symbolic and
written codes construct the
We as individuals, classify and stereotype by considering:
appearance — this can include physical appearance, clothing and sound of voice
behaviour — typical things people in a group might do
Impact of Representations: Media stereotypes use appearance and behaviour and will emphasise them through: construction — this is how the camera is used, the soundtrack and the music. Think about emotive headlines, choice of photograph in print media. contrast — often there will be an ‘opposition’ with what is ‘normal’. The question of whether audiences are influenced by the representations they see in the media is an old one but you need to think about it. The attitudes and ideology encoded in a text, when repeated over and over again in a number of texts may come to seem ‘normal’ to audiences. It has been said that the influence the media exerts has a major impact on the way we view the world.
Impact of Representations
Any media representation is a mixture of:
the thing itself
the opinions of the people doing the representation
the reaction of the individual to the representation
the context of the society in which the representation is taking place.
How are these families represented?
Representations and Advertising : Task
Who is being represented? In what way? By whom ?
(Analyse the image in terms of its media language (lighting, colour, dress, body language, camera angle, setting etc.) / which aspects of the representation have been selected and focused on )
Why is the subject being represented in this way ?
(Why would the institution who created this advert want to represent men / women in this way ?)
Who is the target audience for the advertisement ?
(How does this link to how the representation is constructed?)
Are there any stereotypes being used ?
(Why would the producer use recognisable representations / stereotypes ?
Are they positive or negative representations ? )
How do the representations reflect dominant values and ideologies at the time the advert was produced ?
Analyse the following adverts in terms of the representations constructed within it.
Who or what is being represented? How are they being represented? Use the key concepts to help you deconstruct the text.
2. How might you apply the Reflective View to this advert?
3. How might you apply the Constructionist View to this advert?
Why do you think the representations have been constructed in this way?
5. Who does this construction / message benefit and why?