What isWhat isRepresentation?Representation?
Which other Key ConceptsWhich other Key Conceptsdo we need to consider?do we need to consider?• Media Language (Media Lang...
What do we need to know?What do we need to know?Who is being represented?Who is being represented?•• In what way?In what w...
MediationMediationEvery time we encounter a media text, we areEvery time we encounter a media text, we arenot seeing reali...
MediationMediationThe media place us at one remove fromThe media place us at one remove fromreality: they take something t...
Mediation – three things toMediation – three things tolook out forlook out for1.1. SelectionSelection• Whatever ends up on...
Society,theindividualSociety,theindividualandrepresentationandrepresentation It is too simple to talk justIt is too simpl...
Three views of representationThree views of representation ReflectiveReflective According to this view, when we represen...
Any representation is a mixture of:Any representation is a mixture of:1 The1 The thingthing itselfitself2 The2 The opinion...
DominantDominantIdeologiesIdeologies The group of ideas thatThe group of ideas thatmake up the dominantmake up the domina...
 Many constructionists believe that this itself has an effectMany constructionists believe that this itself has an effect...
StereotypesStereotypes Its worth now looking inIts worth now looking inmore detail at what is goingmore detail at what is...
StereotypesStereotypesA standardised, usually oversimplified, mentalA standardised, usually oversimplified, mentalpicture ...
The four parts of a media stereotypeThe four parts of a media stereotypeHow can the media build a stereotype?How can the m...
The four parts of a media stereotypeThe four parts of a media stereotype These first two features of media stereotypes ar...
The four parts of a media stereotypeThe four parts of a media stereotype4.4. There will always be a comparison whether rea...
ChangingChangingrepresentations–representations–CountertypesCountertypes In the Sci-Fi blockbuster filmIn the Sci-Fi bloc...
ChangingChangingrepresentations–representations–CountertypesCountertypes In both cases, the representationIn both cases, ...
ChangingChangingrepresentations–representations–CountertypesCountertypes One analysis of this would be to sayOne analysis...
CanweeverCanweeveravoidavoidstereotypes?stereotypes? You will probably be able to findYou will probably be able to findCo...
Introduction to representation
Introduction to representation
Introduction to representation
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Introduction to representation

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Introduction to representation

  1. 1. What isWhat isRepresentation?Representation?
  2. 2. Which other Key ConceptsWhich other Key Conceptsdo we need to consider?do we need to consider?• Media Language (Media Language (howhow the representation is created/the representation is created/mediated, denotation and connotation)mediated, denotation and connotation)• Institution and audience (Institution and audience (whowho is doing theis doing therepresentation andrepresentation and whowho is it aimed at?)is it aimed at?)• Theories and ideology (Theories and ideology (howhow can we deconstruct thecan we deconstruct therepresentation andrepresentation and howhow can we make sense of it?)can we make sense of it?)
  3. 3. What do we need to know?What do we need to know?Who is being represented?Who is being represented?•• In what way?In what way?•• By whom?By whom?Why is the subject being represented in this way?Why is the subject being represented in this way?•• Is the representation fair and accurate?Is the representation fair and accurate?•• What opportunities exist for self-representation by theWhat opportunities exist for self-representation by thesubject?subject?
  4. 4. MediationMediationEvery time we encounter a media text, we areEvery time we encounter a media text, we arenot seeing reality, but someones version of it.not seeing reality, but someones version of it.This may seem like an obvious point, but it isThis may seem like an obvious point, but it issomething that is easily forgotten when we getsomething that is easily forgotten when we getcaught up in enjoying a text.caught up in enjoying a text.
  5. 5. MediationMediationThe media place us at one remove fromThe media place us at one remove fromreality: they take something that is real, areality: they take something that is real, aperson or an event and they change itsperson or an event and they change itsform to produce whatever text we end upform to produce whatever text we end upwith. This is called mediation.with. This is called mediation.
  6. 6. Mediation – three things toMediation – three things tolook out forlook out for1.1. SelectionSelection• Whatever ends up on the screen or in the paper, much more will have been leftWhatever ends up on the screen or in the paper, much more will have been leftout- any news story has been selected from hundreds of others which theout- any news story has been selected from hundreds of others which theproducers decided for you were less interesting, any picture has been chosenproducers decided for you were less interesting, any picture has been chosenfrom an enormous number of alternatives.from an enormous number of alternatives.2. Organisation2. Organisation• The various elements will be organised carefully in ways that real life is not- inThe various elements will be organised carefully in ways that real life is not- invisual media this involves mise-en-scene and the organisation of narrative, invisual media this involves mise-en-scene and the organisation of narrative, inthe recording of an album the production might involve re-mixing a track. Anythe recording of an album the production might involve re-mixing a track. Anymedium you can think of will have an equivalent to these. This organisation ofmedium you can think of will have an equivalent to these. This organisation ofthe material will result in…….the material will result in…….3.3. FocusingFocusing• Mediation always ends up with us, the audience being pushed towardsMediation always ends up with us, the audience being pushed towardsconcentrating on one aspect of the text and ignoring others. If you are watchingconcentrating on one aspect of the text and ignoring others. If you are watchinga film the camera will pan towards an important character, in a tabloid thea film the camera will pan towards an important character, in a tabloid theheadlines will scream, for your attention. It can be easy to ignore how differentheadlines will scream, for your attention. It can be easy to ignore how differentfrom our everyday lives this is. If you are walking through a field, you arefrom our everyday lives this is. If you are walking through a field, you areunlikely to see a sign saying "look at this amazing tree." You make your ownunlikely to see a sign saying "look at this amazing tree." You make your owndecisions about what is worth our attention. The media text, through mediation,decisions about what is worth our attention. The media text, through mediation,tries to do this for us.tries to do this for us.
  7. 7. Society,theindividualSociety,theindividualandrepresentationandrepresentation It is too simple to talk justIt is too simple to talk justabout the media mediatingabout the media mediatingreality and creatingreality and creatingrepresentations- we need arepresentations- we need amore subtle understandingmore subtle understandingof the process. To get thisof the process. To get thiswe will look briefly at somewe will look briefly at somedifferent ideas people havedifferent ideas people havehad about howhad about howrepresentation works. Yourepresentation works. Youcould broadly separatecould broadly separatethese into three:these into three:
  8. 8. Three views of representationThree views of representation ReflectiveReflective According to this view, when we represent something, we are taking its trueAccording to this view, when we represent something, we are taking its truemeaning and trying to create a replica of it in the mind of our audience- like ameaning and trying to create a replica of it in the mind of our audience- like areflection. This is the view that many people have of how news works- the newsreflection. This is the view that many people have of how news works- the newsproducers take the truth of news events and simply present it to us as accuratelyproducers take the truth of news events and simply present it to us as accuratelyas possible.as possible. IntentionalIntentional This is the opposite of the Reflective idea. This time the most important thing inThis is the opposite of the Reflective idea. This time the most important thing inthe process of representation is the person doing the representing- they arethe process of representation is the person doing the representing- they arepresenting their view of the thing they are representing and the words or imagespresenting their view of the thing they are representing and the words or imagesthat they use mean what they intend them to mean. According to this theory, ifthat they use mean what they intend them to mean. According to this theory, ifyou see a picture of an attractive person drinking a can of Coke in an advert, ityou see a picture of an attractive person drinking a can of Coke in an advert, itwill have the same meaning to you as the advertiser intended- go away and buywill have the same meaning to you as the advertiser intended- go away and buy ConstructionistConstructionist This is really a response to what have been seen a weakness in the other twoThis is really a response to what have been seen a weakness in the other twotheories. Constructionists feel that a representation can never just be the truth ortheories. Constructionists feel that a representation can never just be the truth orthe version of the truth that someone wants you to hear since that is ignoringthe version of the truth that someone wants you to hear since that is ignoringyour ability as an individual to make up your own mind and the influences of theyour ability as an individual to make up your own mind and the influences of thesociety that you live in on the way that you do so.society that you live in on the way that you do so.
  9. 9. Any representation is a mixture of:Any representation is a mixture of:1 The1 The thingthing itselfitself2 The2 The opinionsopinions of theof the peoplepeople doing thedoing therepresentationrepresentation3 The3 The reactionreaction of theof the individualindividual to theto therepresentationrepresentation4 The4 The contextcontext of theof the societysociety in which thein which therepresentation is taking place.representation is taking place.
  10. 10. DominantDominantIdeologiesIdeologies The group of ideas thatThe group of ideas thatmake up the dominantmake up the dominantideology in Britain are notideology in Britain are notsomething that remainssomething that remainsstatic- they change as newstatic- they change as newideas enter the areideas enter the areencountered and peopleencountered and peoplediscuss them. For examplediscuss them. For examplethe dominant ideology inthe dominant ideology inBritain used to beBritain used to be anti-blackanti-blackbut this seems to bebut this seems to bechanging at the moment.changing at the moment.
  11. 11.  Many constructionists believe that this itself has an effectMany constructionists believe that this itself has an effecton what the dominant ideology actually is - after all theon what the dominant ideology actually is - after all thedominant ideology is only the belief of the majority ofdominant ideology is only the belief of the majority ofpeople so if you and others like you end up even morepeople so if you and others like you end up even moresure that men in responsible positions should controlsure that men in responsible positions should controltheir behaviour as a result of seeing the article, then thetheir behaviour as a result of seeing the article, then thedominant ideology has become a bit stronger.dominant ideology has become a bit stronger. You could see the whole process that theYou could see the whole process that theconstructionists describe as being a kind of negotiation.constructionists describe as being a kind of negotiation.Over the years representations are accepted or rejectedOver the years representations are accepted or rejectedby the majority of people and the dominant ideology isby the majority of people and the dominant ideology isgradually changed.gradually changed. Dominant ideology is a key aspect of MarxismDominant ideology is a key aspect of MarxismDominant IdeologiesDominant Ideologies
  12. 12. StereotypesStereotypes Its worth now looking inIts worth now looking inmore detail at what is goingmore detail at what is goingon in the other parts of theon in the other parts of theprocess- the individuals andprocess- the individuals andthe media and theirthe media and theirrelationship with what isrelationship with what isbeing represented. Thisbeing represented. Thisbrings us on to the questionbrings us on to the questionof stereotypes- anotherof stereotypes- anotherword which is maybe worthword which is maybe wortha dictionary definition.a dictionary definition.
  13. 13. StereotypesStereotypesA standardised, usually oversimplified, mentalA standardised, usually oversimplified, mentalpicture or attitude that is held in common bypicture or attitude that is held in common bymembers of a groupmembers of a group.. A stereotype is a simplification that we use toA stereotype is a simplification that we use tomake sense of a real person or group which ismake sense of a real person or group which ismuch more complicated.much more complicated.
  14. 14. The four parts of a media stereotypeThe four parts of a media stereotypeHow can the media build a stereotype?How can the media build a stereotype?With any group of people, there will obviously be anWith any group of people, there will obviously be anenormous number of things that can be used in aenormous number of things that can be used in astereotype, but because stereotyping is a form ofstereotype, but because stereotyping is a form ofsimplification, normally the most obvious things aresimplification, normally the most obvious things areused. These are:used. These are:1.1. Appearance- this can include, physical appearanceAppearance- this can include, physical appearanceand clothing as well as the sound of the voice. e.g. "alland clothing as well as the sound of the voice. e.g. "allteachers wear dreadful old clothesteachers wear dreadful old clothes““2. Behaviour - typical things that people in this group2. Behaviour - typical things that people in this groupmight do. "Grannies like to knit"might do. "Grannies like to knit"
  15. 15. The four parts of a media stereotypeThe four parts of a media stereotype These first two features of media stereotypes are the same when weThese first two features of media stereotypes are the same when wemake our own stereotypes. They simply involve us thinking ofmake our own stereotypes. They simply involve us thinking ofsomething that may be true of some of the group in question andsomething that may be true of some of the group in question andapplying it to all.applying it to all. The third feature of media stereotyping is peculiar to the media:The third feature of media stereotyping is peculiar to the media:3.3. The stereotype is constructed in ways that fit the particular mediumThe stereotype is constructed in ways that fit the particular medium This is more difficult to understand but it is crucial for you to look forThis is more difficult to understand but it is crucial for you to look forit. If you watch a film such as Silence of the Lambs and then look atit. If you watch a film such as Silence of the Lambs and then look atthe tabloid coverage of Fred West, you are seeing the samethe tabloid coverage of Fred West, you are seeing the samestereotype ( the typical Serial Killer) being used, but there arestereotype ( the typical Serial Killer) being used, but there areobviously big differences which will depend on the specifics of theobviously big differences which will depend on the specifics of themedia used.media used. The film will use close ups of the killers leering face, soundtrackThe film will use close ups of the killers leering face, soundtrackmusic and reaction shots of terrified victims to create their version ofmusic and reaction shots of terrified victims to create their version ofthe stereotype.the stereotype.
  16. 16. The four parts of a media stereotypeThe four parts of a media stereotype4.4. There will always be a comparison whether real or imaginary with "normalThere will always be a comparison whether real or imaginary with "normal”” behaviour.behaviour. The features which make up a stereotype are always those which seemThe features which make up a stereotype are always those which seemsomehow different from every-day behaviour. In fact you could almost startsomehow different from every-day behaviour. In fact you could almost startany stereotyped description by saying: "this group are different becauseany stereotyped description by saying: "this group are different becausethey…….they…….““ Of course the idea of what is normal in any society is an absurdity andOf course the idea of what is normal in any society is an absurdity andtherefore in order to make it clear to us that the stereotyped characters aretherefore in order to make it clear to us that the stereotyped characters arenot behaving "normally" there will frequently be "normal" people used to actnot behaving "normally" there will frequently be "normal" people used to actas a contrast to them.as a contrast to them. So, to use the earlier example, Jodie Foster is used in Silence of the LambsSo, to use the earlier example, Jodie Foster is used in Silence of the Lambsto give the audience someone to compare Lecters behaviour with. On theto give the audience someone to compare Lecters behaviour with. On thenews, tales of striking workers (another stereotype) are always contrastednews, tales of striking workers (another stereotype) are always contrastedwith interviews with "normal" people who are suffering as a result of theirwith interviews with "normal" people who are suffering as a result of theiractions.actions. The normal person will act as a representative of us in the text- at the sameThe normal person will act as a representative of us in the text- at the sametime reflecting what we might feel, or telling us what to feel depending on yourtime reflecting what we might feel, or telling us what to feel depending on yourpoint of view.point of view.
  17. 17. ChangingChangingrepresentations–representations–CountertypesCountertypes In the Sci-Fi blockbuster filmIn the Sci-Fi blockbuster filmIndependence Day there is aIndependence Day there is acharacter played by Will Smith whocharacter played by Will Smith whois clearly intended to be a positiveis clearly intended to be a positiveand strong hero. As such, he goesand strong hero. As such, he goesagainst many of the previousagainst many of the previousnegative stereotypes of blacknegative stereotypes of blackpeople in American films. In onepeople in American films. In onecrucial scene from the film we seecrucial scene from the film we seehim responding to the danger of anhim responding to the danger of analiens attack by simply kicking it.aliens attack by simply kicking it. In another blockbuster Sci-Fi film -In another blockbuster Sci-Fi film -Mars Attacks - there is also a blackMars Attacks - there is also a blackhero who also responds to thehero who also responds to theattack of a bunch of aliens byattack of a bunch of aliens bypunching one of them. Both of thesepunching one of them. Both of thesefilms were made virtuallyfilms were made virtuallysimultaneously.simultaneously. How can we explain the fact thatHow can we explain the fact thatthey end up containing what arethey end up containing what arealmost identical scenes?almost identical scenes?
  18. 18. ChangingChangingrepresentations–representations–CountertypesCountertypes In both cases, the representationIn both cases, the representationof black people in these filmsof black people in these filmshas probably resulted from thehas probably resulted from thevery best of intentions. The filmsvery best of intentions. The filmsproducers were probably tired ofproducers were probably tired ofyears of negative stereotyping ofyears of negative stereotyping ofblack people in the movies andblack people in the movies andwanted to create a newwanted to create a newrepresentation.representation. So, instead of showing blackSo, instead of showing blackpeople as criminals or aspeople as criminals or asanimals they have representedanimals they have representedthem as noble heroes who getthem as noble heroes who getstraight to the point and take nostraight to the point and take nononsense. They have alsononsense. They have alsoemphasised the humour of theseemphasised the humour of thesecharacters and have made surecharacters and have made surethat they are attractive enough tothat they are attractive enough toact as macho role models.act as macho role models.
  19. 19. ChangingChangingrepresentations–representations–CountertypesCountertypes One analysis of this would be to sayOne analysis of this would be to saythat they have created a new kind ofthat they have created a new kind ofstereotype – a positive stereotypestereotype – a positive stereotypewhich could be called a countertype.which could be called a countertype.In the same way as a traditionalIn the same way as a traditionalstereotype was made by selectingstereotype was made by selectingthe negative behaviour of somethe negative behaviour of somemembers of the group, themembers of the group, thecountertype homes in on somecountertype homes in on somefeatures which are positive.features which are positive. However the countertype is still veryHowever the countertype is still verymuch a stereotype -- it is still amuch a stereotype -- it is still asimplification of the enormoussimplification of the enormousdiversity that must exist in thediversity that must exist in thepopulation of black Americans. Aspopulation of black Americans. Assuch, although it is an improvementsuch, although it is an improvementon a negative stereotype, it is stillon a negative stereotype, it is stillnot the whole truth and many blacknot the whole truth and many blackpeople would probably still find itpeople would probably still find itvery annoying in the way that itvery annoying in the way that itlimits their behaviour.limits their behaviour.
  20. 20. CanweeverCanweeveravoidavoidstereotypes?stereotypes? You will probably be able to findYou will probably be able to findCountertypes whenever there is aCountertypes whenever there is agroup being represented positivelygroup being represented positivelyfor the first time by the media. Itfor the first time by the media. Itseems as if the media find it difficultseems as if the media find it difficultto adapt to change and will alwaysto adapt to change and will alwaysuse the old techniques ofuse the old techniques ofsimplification even if theyre trying tosimplification even if theyre trying tobe nice about someone.be nice about someone. This has led some people toThis has led some people toquestion whether it is ever possiblequestion whether it is ever possibleto create a representation that isto create a representation that isfree of stereotypes. If you think backfree of stereotypes. If you think backto implicit personality theory, itto implicit personality theory, itshould be clear how natural theshould be clear how natural theprocess of stereotyping is to us andprocess of stereotyping is to us andhow attractive we find this simplifiedhow attractive we find this simplifiedview of the world. However, if weview of the world. However, if weare aware of this tendency in ourare aware of this tendency in ourown minds, we must be able to atown minds, we must be able to atleast try to avoid it and to recogniseleast try to avoid it and to recogniseit in the media texts that we areit in the media texts that we arepresented with.presented with.

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