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Media representations handout


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Media representations handout

  1. 1. Key Concepts - representations Media Representations Representation – the process by which images, words or sounds are used to indicate issues or debates beyond what they literally mean. The most common form of representation is that of social groups, and debates arise that analyse both the positive and the negative aspects of representation. Debates tend to arise when a stereotype is either explored or exploited. Stereotype – an oversimplified definition of a person or type of person. It is to place a person into a narrow definition that allows little or no opportunity for change. It is frequently, though not always, a result of prejudice. A film character, for example, has importance because of their place within the story world, but we could also extend their importance by defining the social, political or racial group of which they are part and then begin to discuss how that group is being treated within the film and society. Audiences often respond to different representations actively and bring their own thoughts about society and the world to that response. 1. Representation in soaps. Media texts use representation to varying degrees and for various reasons. For example, the representational potential of a soap character can be established in a number of ways.  If the character is of a different ethnic minority than others in the soap, or is part of an ethnic group, the issues concerning the depiction of ethnic minorities might be debated. You need to remember, however, that representation can be positive as well as negative. It is important that you are aware of just who it is that deems the stereotypes on display as positive or negative.  The focus of an episode or a series of episodes might be the sexuality of a certain character and may deal with the responses of other characters to that sexual orientation.  The gender of a character might be highlighted in an episode by the experiences they have the treatment they receive, therefore encouraging viewers to consider the depiction of men or women.
  2. 2. Key Concepts - representations  A character’s age might be a focus and their attitudes or behaviour contrasted with those of other age groups. From this we might consider the treatment of different age groups within society.  Social class is another area of possible representational debate, and discussion may ensue from the problems characters have that are connected with their socio-economic status. An individual character or group of characters does not have to be part of a minority in order to warrant representational debate. 2. Representation in newspapers Any piece of photojournalism, even before it has appeared in a newspaper, will have potential representational qualities. This discussion can be extended when w consider the following factors:  The caption added to any image within a newspaper aims to fix the audience’s potential reading of that image. The caption will help us to consider not only the basic representational qualities of the image, but also what the newspaper wishes us to understand from it.  An image will be chosen to highlight a particular aspect of the story it has been chosen to illustrate. We use the text of the story to extend any discussion of the representational debate evident in the image.  The specific newspaper in which we see the image is also important when discussing image representation. The newspaper’s political or socio-economic leaning will have an impact on the way images are used within it and will therefore inform our consideration of representation.  The position of the image on the paper or within the newspaper is another important point to consider. Newspapers are composed through a hierarchy of importance, with the lead story on the front page. The importance of the image and the representational debate it explores can be understood when the positioning is analysed. These factors help us to consider not just what is being debated, but also how it is being debated. Processes of representation can be analysed by considering all of the factors that surround an image, sound or word. Remember to consider where something has been placed, how it has been composed, the type of
  3. 3. Key Concepts - representations publication, programme or film which is its context, the media institution that has produced it, the current social debate surrounding it, and also your own response to the way in which something is being represented.