Media representation

In this section students will develop their knowledge and understanding of:

  • the way events, issues, individuals (including self-representation) and social groups (including social identity) are represented through processes of selection and combination
  • the way the media through re-presentation construct versions of reality
  • the processes which lead media producers to make choices about how to represent events, issues, individuals and social groups
  • the effect of social and cultural context on representations
  • how and why stereotypes can be used positively and negatively
  • how and why particular social groups, in a national and global context, may be under-represented or misrepresented
  • how media representations convey values, attitudes and beliefs about the world and how these may be systematically reinforced across a wide range of media representations
  • how audiences respond to and interpret media representations
  • the way in which representations make claims about realism
  • the impact of industry contexts on the choices media producers make about how to represent events, issues, individuals and social groups
  • the effect of historical context on representations
  • how representations may invoke discourses and ideologies and position audiences
  • how audience responses to and interpretations of media representations reflect social, cultural and historical circumstances.

Enabling ideas to support the study of media representation

The content below identifies the enabling theories, key ideas and terms that constitute key theoretical aspects of media representation. Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the following theoretical aspects.

Theories of representation

Theories of representation:
  • Positive and negative stereotypes
  • Countertypes
  • Misrepresentation
  • Selective representation
  • Dominant ideology
  • Constructed reality
  • Hegemony
  • Audience positioning.
Hall's ideas and theories on representation:
  • Encoding/decoding.

Theories of identity as summarised by Gauntlett

  • Fluidity of identity
  • Constructed identity
  • Negotiated identity
  • Collective identity.

Feminist theories

Feminist theories:
  • Male gaze
  • Voyeurism
  • Patriarchy
  • Sexualisation/Raunch Culture
  • Post-feminism
  • Female gaze.
Van Zoonen's ideas and theories on feminist theory:
  • Gender and power
  • Gender as discourse.
hooks' ideas and theories on feminist theory:
  • Intersectionality.

Theories of gender performativity

Theories of gender performativity:
  • Sex and gender.
Butler's ideas and theories on gender performativity:
  • Gender as performativity ('a stylised repetition of acts')
  • Gender as historical situation rather than natural fact
  • Subversion.

Theories around ethnicity and postcolonial theory

Theories around ethnicity and postcolonial theory:
  • Cultural imperialism
  • Multiculturalism
  • Imagined communities
  • Marginalisation
  • Orientalism
  • Otherness (alterity).
Gilroy's ideas and theories on ethnicity and post-colonial theory:
  • Diaspora
  • Double Consciousness.