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Article

Marginalized Voices in the Global Media Dialogue  

Theresa Carilli

Marginalization, a fluid concept, challenges status quo understandings and representations of individuals throughout the world. Considered to reference individuals who have been excluded from the mainstream dialogue, marginalization has developed into a term that evokes an examination of the master narrative, also known as the metanarrative. In a world where the master narrative predominates, individuals are systematically excluded based on a characteristic or characteristics they possess that disrupt a specified system of cultural norms. In relation to the global media, marginalized voices represent groups that have self-contained cultural norms and rules that differ from mainstream norms and rules. While marginalized groups may share some norms, rules, and values with the mainstream culture, they possess differences that can be viewed as transgressive, existing outside the mainstream norms, rules, and values. Media representations of groups that are globally marginalized, and sometimes stigmatized, include but are not limited to race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, class, ableism, and religion. A study of these marginalized groups reveals an implied system of privilege that reifies the status quo and supports the master narrative. Media invisibility results from marginalization, and when marginalized groups are represented, often those representations are through a marketable, stereotypical lens. As a result of the dearth of images, and a system of privilege, few studies examine marginalized groups in countries throughout the world. By creating a global dialogue about marginalized voices, images, and self-representations, advocacy for difference and understanding allows these voices, images, and self-representations to become expressive renderings of specific transgressive cultural norms.

Article

Refugee and Mediated Lives  

Kevin Smets, Giacomo Toffano, and Silvia Almenara-Niebla

The lives of refugees are highly mediated. Media and technologies affect the daily experiences and trajectories of refugees in numerous ways while on the move as well as while settling into new homelands. Mediation processes also inform broader societal and political meanings that are assigned to refugees, as the figure of “the refugee” is constantly reshaped through processes of representation. Although these processes are much older, the research on refugees and mediation has accelerated especially since 2015. The literature focuses on three key areas: (a) refugees’ media uses and (dis)connectivity; (b) the role of media technologies in refugees’ everyday lives; and (c) media representations and narratives. Across these three areas, several important critiques have been formulated. These include criticisms of essentialist understandings of “the refugee” as well as Eurocentric and technocentric tendencies in the literature. A response to these criticisms might lay in a more historicized, contextualized, and situated approach to the mediated lives of refugees.

Article

Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Communication in Africa: An Intersectional Perspective  

Kristin Skare Orgeret

When examining diversity in mediated spheres of communication, crucial questions to be asked would be whose stories are told and through which voices, to be relevant for the widest spectrum of a society and secure an informed citizenry. Approaching questions of access and representation in media and communication, it is valuable to allow for intersecting perspectives. Instead of the binary terms associated with power relations and oppression the intersectional model references the ability of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation (oppressions) to mutually construct one another and ensures a broader scope of relevant representations and mediated stories. Hence it is necessary to combine knowledge from several sources, such as the Négritude movement, feminism, and queer theories. An intersectional approach proves relevant when discussing African contexts where specific historical, cultural, and economic/political contexts play together and the populations are often complex and manifold, as, for example, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign and the media coverage of athlete Caster Semenya show.

Article

Gay Aging and Discourses of Future  

Dustin Goltz

The understandings about age—the values and assumptions placed upon age and aging persons—mark a culturally and politically constructed discourse. For LGBTQ populations, aging is mapped with a unique set of stories, scripts, and narratives that work to frame and constrain how they are trained to see, read, and assign meanings. Coupled with scripts and myths that work to define the process and experience of LGBTQ aging—what it is to be an “older,” “younger,” or “aging” queer—is the cultural scripting of the queer future (i.e., “What’s ahead?” “What do you expect from your life?” “What is to come?”). As a communicative process and a symbolic construction, no one knows what the future is or what one’s future will be. Yet, the queer future has historically been scripted in mainstream discourses (film, literature, religion, and cultural mythology) as a space of pain, loss, and tragedy—“a harder path” equated with sadness, turmoil, and punishment. Cautionary tales of the dirty old man, the sad pathetic fool, the invisible spinster, the lesbian vampire, and the queer monster are recurring themes that work to denigrate aging queer lives and shore up the story of heteronormative correctness. This cultural script works to frame how mainstream culture understands LGBTQ populations but also frames and constrains how LGBTQ populations might view themselves, understand their future and aging bodies, and shape their investment in health, self-care, and longevity. The cultural scripts perpetuated in media and discourse, however, do not so easily line up with social science research on queer populations. Examining the meaning-making dimensions of gay aging and future offers an interdisciplinary approach that brings together sociology, gerontology, performance studies, and media criticism with the field of human communication.

Article

Race and Affect in Digital Media Cultures  

Donya Alinejad

Media has always been central to the social production and contestation of racial and ethnic difference. The politics of representation has formed the conceptual frame for much of the seminal scholarship examining the role of media in reproducing ideologies of race. Yet, with the advancement of digitally mediated communicative spaces, emerging experiences of interactive social encounters with racial difference compound people’s spatially proximous, “offline” encounters. And the circulation of controversy, together with the changing relationship between counterpublics and mainstream media, further complicates questions of race and media. From online hate speech to hashtagged antiracism movements, ideologies of race and practices of racial and ethnic ordering and discrimination are being reproduced, rethought, and, to some extent, reinvigorated in ways that are unique to the widespread uptake of digital technologies. Race and representation bear revisiting in light of these developments. In what has been called the “affective turn,” scholars have theorized “nonrepresentational” and affective communications as a way of explaining some of the important developments associated with digital media phenomena, such as online virality and digital attention economies. Affect has helped conceptualize the paracognitive and emotional dimensions of social life, as well as the spatial and material dynamics of mediated experiences of encounter and interaction. Through a discussion of literature at the nexus of affect, media, and race/ethnicity, this article maps and draws relations between longer-running debates on media, representation, and race and more current notions of digital affect and emotion. It suggests that the notion of representation has sustained relevance for understanding how emergent digital media forms produce ideologies of race and ethnic difference.The article also signals where the entwinement of affect and representation suggests productive directions for further understanding of race in relation to a changing range of digital-media technologies and practices.

Article

Race, Ethnicity, and Nation in Selected Contemporary South Korean Television Genres  

Ji-Hyun Ahn

The myth of a “single ethnic nation” has long held sway in South Korean society. A recent trend of global migration since the 1980s, however, has caused this powerful myth to become outdated, with a shift toward imagining a new national identity as a global and multicultural Korea. This shift has been largely associated with Korean media culture, which is fitting because media do not simply reflect but, rather, simultaneously construct and reproduce reality. Mass media, especially television, make visible and provide vernacular narratives about people whose race and ethnicity differ from those of the viewers. These televisual images make familiar and normalize stereotypes about certain groups by reinforcing repetitive representational patterns. South Korean television has for decades functioned as an effective ideological apparatus for shaping and constructing the national identity. Thus, during the period of industrialization and modernization after the Korean War, the South Korean government leveraged television technology to facilitate modernization efforts while at the same time shaping a particular vision of Koreanness that reinforced the myth of ethnic purity. More recently, as Korean media have become increasingly liberalized and commercialized, Korean television has constructed and produced a multicultural reality through visual representations of foreigners, immigrants, and ethnic Koreans. Since the turn of the century, so-called “multicultural programs” featuring casts made up primarily of foreign residents and immigrants have become popular on Korean television. The multicultural subjects appear across television genres, including dramas and other entertainment programs, human-interest documentaries, and news coverages. This programming has visualized racial/ethnic differences and produced racialized and gendered discourse on racial/ethnic minorities in Korea. The entertainment shows in particular have incorporated diverse racial/ethnic groups. Thus, in dramas, White people have been preferred and represented as the exemplary cosmopolitan citizens, whereas female marriage migrant characters, mostly from other Asian countries, have been represented as sincere caregivers for Korean families. Notably, multicultural families have appeared much more frequently in human-interest documentaries and infotainment shows in part because they have been especially targeted as subjects of social integration in current multiculturalism policies. Furthermore, multicultural families in which one spouse was from a Western country (and usually White) were framed as “global,” whereas multicultural families in which one spouse was from a less-developed country (particularly in Southeast Asia and Africa) were depicted as in need of help.

Article

Communication From a Latin American Indigenous Perspective  

Claudia Magallanes-Blanco

Indigenous peoples from Latin America understand and use communication from an Indigenous perspective. Communication is a key aspect of their ongoing struggles for self-determination and autonomy, and the ways they understand and use communication embodies ancestral knowledge as well as technological appropriations. Communication is the main vehicle for self-representation, which is materialized in various practices, media, and messages that circulate within communities, between villages, or toward the population of metropolitan society. Communication attests to the capacity of Indigenous peoples to produce new knowledge and different culturally grounded responses to diverse times and historic contradictions. Indigenous peoples throughout Latin America use communication to serve several purposes. It reproduces worldviews deeply rooted in identity, territoriality, languages, spirituality, autonomy, and sovereignty. It is also a mechanism for community (self) reflexivity. It is a political strategy. It is a basic right. And it is a set of practices and processes that give rise to specific media products. Hence, from these purposes it is possible to recognize five dimensions of communication from a Latin American Indigenous perspective: (a) communication as cosmogony, (b) communication for community self-reflexivity, (c) communication as a political strategy (d) communication as a right, and (e) communication as a medium. These dimensions exemplify the capacity of Indigenous peoples from Latin America to produce new knowledge embedded in ancestral knowledge and to fight for self-determination, autonomy, and cognitive justice via communication.

Article

Science Journalism  

Lars Guenther

Science journalism is a specialized form of journalism predominantly covering issues such as science, medicine, and technology; it only professionalized in the second half of the 20th century. For many people, print, audiovisual and online media are the main source they use to get to know something about these fields; hence, science journalism has an important role for the society. However, when looking at science journalism and the research in that area more closely, then a variety of different approaches paint a rather dark picture. Firstly, there is a lot of research criticizing science journalism and science journalists. What these studies focus on is science journalists’ work and role for the society, their routines and practices, their reporting on specific scientific issues, as well as the relationship between journalists and scientists. Secondly, in some countries, science journalism seems to be in a crisis due to increasing digitization and changing media landscapes. Science journalism is declining in these countries and many journalists have lost their jobs. However, assessing the quality and appropriateness of science journalism should be based on journalistic and not on scientific criteria, and these criteria should be used when trying to describe what science journalism is and what not, how science journalism operates and how not, and how best to describe the role science journalism has for the society. In addition, although increasing digitization may change routines and practices of science journalists, these specialized journalists may be able to adapt to new media landscapes and still maintain their important role for the society as the most disinterested source that informs about science, medicine, and technology.