Representations in the Media

Media Representations and Stereotyping
Conform to and create stereotypes | acts as a code as audience understand quickly and easy.
Media Gaze: Media not equally represented as through the eyes of the producer – white middle class men.
Symbolic Annihilation: Groups trivialised, condemned or given limited representation.
Gauntlett: People reject representations but they become reality when media is only source.
GMG: Representations formed in context of dominant ideology | hegemony reinforced.
Representations of Age
Cute kids | Feel good factor | Brilliant/excelling | Little angles – do no wrong.
Youth: Subject of negative media stereotyping | 57% of stories about youth neg.
Cohen: Suggests youth are identifiable group for Scapegoating – Common enemy | often referred to as ‘hoodies’ or ‘thugs’.
Older People: Late 50s onward – invisible | Poor/ill health/unattractive. | Older men viewed ‘Wise old men’.
Semigin: London agencies wary of using older models – alienate younger audience.
Dove Pro: Pro age campaign – perusing older people in the market. ‘Culturally Obsolete’. (Brooker)
Representation of Social Class
General Features:
M/U classes represented more and positively | W/C restricted roles.
Jones: M/C values rep. as norm/consensus | Concerns of well off important to majority.
Lawler: ‘Taste’ used as a symbol of class identity.
GMG: Reflect interests of the powerful.
Working Class
The content aimed at W/C suggests no interest in public affairs. Commonly represented as –
Dumb/Stupid Buffoons: Well intended but flawed individual. E.g. Royal Family.
Source of Trouble/Conflict: Welfare scroungers/delinquent children.
Romanticised Communities: Respectable hardworking | this declined as now les labour work.
White Trash/Scum: Lead to being despised | ‘underclass’ | ‘worthless’.
Middle Class
Over represented | Families and functional aspirational units – combined with neg. working class – desirable – dominant ideology/hegemony ect. | Worth respect.
Upper Class
Rich/Powerful/Business People/Celebrities | Posh accents with good taste | expensive lifestyle – content for mass e.g. gossip | Fuels the dominant ideology within the media.
Representations of Ethnicity

General Features: Ethnic minorities (EMs) under represented and through media gaze. | Afro-Caribbean more coverage than Asians | Black people often put in ‘comedic’ role. | Tokenism | Symbolic annihilation towards EMS e.g. Chinese/Polish rep. characterised by stereotypes
Key Media Stereotypes:

Deviants and Law breakers | Threat to culture | Causing social problems | illegal immigrants and welfare scroungers | Limited talents | having international problems – e.g. Africa.
Eastern Europeans: Blamed for British problems such as taking jobs and benefits – Such stereotypes and stories reinforce racial prejudice using minority ethnic groups as scapegoats for British problems.
Islamophobia:  Muslims stereotyped as threat to social values and public safety | 91% of articles about Muslims neg. – threaten ‘British values’ – Hijab/Arranged marriage.
Moral Panic: ‘Muslim’ now stigmatized identity – heavily bias reported conjuring images of terrorism. Here you could talk about the Orlando shooting – highlighted he was Muslim before actually researching any other facts e.g. he’d lived in America since birth.
Explanations of Stereotyping



  • of EMs reflect values of journalists – providing what the audience ‘want’.
  • Cottle: White audiences secure identity in contrast of culture.



  • enforce stereotypes by white middle class men | Reinforces cultural hegemony of white supremacy.
  • Scapegoating and racial divide.
  • Diverts attention from the structure of inequality.

Changing Stereotypes

New Media: New tech. extends range of content and availability to counter stereotyping.
Increasing Coverage: 43% of non-white audience watch British TV.
Abercrombie: Eastenders – Ems appears as routine characters adopting lifestyle.
Representations of Gender

General Features: Women under rep. in industry – e.g. 78% of front page stories by men | The male gaze | male focus and stereotypes | patriarchal ideology | symbolic annihilation – trivialisation/condemnation.
Media and Social Construction of Gender Differences
Hegemonic and culturally dominant stereotypes of gender –
Male: Independent/Sexually dominant | Female: Emotionally Expressive and concerned about appearance.
Such stereotypes reinforced by:
The beauty Myth: Expectations – young and attractive | Assessed in terms of beauty – ‘ideal body’.
E.g. weightwatchers adverts on Mail Online. – Ugly people not on TV.
Tailored Narrative and Content: Rom. Fic. Exclusive to fem | Mens ‘interest’ sections – Nuts, car mags. | Reflect separate hegemonic identities.
Video Games: Fem. under rep. | high sexualised | objectified/glorified violence towards them – e.g. GTA.
Female Representations

The Wag | The Sex Object | The Supermum | The Angle | The Ball Breaker | The Victim.
Cult of Femininity: Ferguson – teenage girls media socializing girls for stereotyped roles – concerns of beauty,  fashion and relationships.
Male Representations

The Joker – laughs to avoid serious things | The Jock | Strong Silent Type | The Big Shot | The Action Hero | The Buffoon.
Theoretical Explanations of Stereotyping

Pluralists: Occurs because audiences ‘want’ it. | Simple effective way to satisfy both audience and organisations.
Liberal Feminists:
Product of under rep. in industry | Rep. will change with a more equal role divide.
Marxists and Marxist Feminists:
Stereotypes attract advertisers promote gender targeted products  to make profit | Audiences persuaded to be concerned to create consumers e.g. hairy legs – razors.
Tebbel: Promoted size 16 models | audiences liked | advertisers withdrew – ‘unhealthy’.
Radical Feminists: Promote patriarchy | Keep to roles where they are subordinate | STs discourage women being a threat to male dominant ideology.
Women’s interests overall displayed as less important or less newsworthy than men.
Changing Media Stereotypes
McRobbie: Post-Modern society – more flexibility. Gauntlett growing expectation women and men should be treated equally – reflected in the media.
Changing Rep. of Female: New form of assertive femininity embedded in pop culture e.g. in sugarscape – promote ‘girl power’ | Female roles now more complex e.g. The Hunger Games/Tomb Raider.
Changing Rep. of Male: Gauntlett – new choice to construct identity – ‘emo boy’ and ‘new man’ both embrace femininity. | Bodies now sexualised – at least some equity | Growing concern about appearance.
Explaining the Change
Profit: STs less relevant to reality – media must reflect ideological shift to maintain audience + advertisers.
Choice: People can now reject media – discuss concerns | Evolved to maintain new and future audiences | However led to exploitation of females as sex objects.
Representations of Disability

Social Construction of Disability
Disability not caused by impairment but the interaction between the impaired and social environment.
Shakespeare: Stereotype of ‘normal’ generates disabled logo – E.g. those with physical differences that can function adequately are labelled as ‘disabled’.
Social Attitude: Discriminate against impairment causing it to be a ‘disability’.
Symbolic Annihilation
One child in 20 | 8 Million people working age are disabled however under rep. or portrayed in neg. ways.
Statistics: 80% physical/mobile impairments | 43% in context of highlighting issues of discrimination | 60% portrayed disability as central to role.
Negative Representations
GMG: Decline in sympathetic attitudes in 2004/5 – specifically in mental health | proportion of linking disability to gov. fraud doubled in 5 years.
Philo: Half of peak time programes portrayed mental illness as threat | 63% references to mental health – easy source of violence/tragedy – ‘Mad and Bad’.
Media Stereotypes
Three broad types – The Criminal | Sub-Human | Powerless
Barnes: Identified a further 10 types – Pitiable or pathetic | Atmosphere or curiosity | object of violence | Sinister of Evil | Super Cripple | Object of Ridcule | Own Worst Enemy | A a Burdon | Non-Sexual | Unable to Participate in Daily Life.
Shakespeare’s Conclusion
Disability engages people through sympathy | Disabled cannot reject views easily to the exten of other group – views distorted to a greater length.
Representations of Sexuality

Sexuality refers to people’s sexual characteristics and behaviour, covers both gay and straight people.
Hegemonic male/female – sexually orientated towards opposite sex | Growing coverage of sexual attractiveness for both men and women.
McRobbie: Argues men face same physical scrutiny by both women and other men.
Metrosexual: New male stereotype – heterosexual men embrace fem. side – however women more sexualised | E.g. in porn – embedding into culture of young males.
Rep. formed through heterosexual media gaze | Reported as deviant.
Women: Stereotyped as ‘butch lesbians’ | Male: Effeminate camp figures of fun.
Symbolic Annihilation: Gays excluded | Trivialised | Misrepresented.
Stonewall: Homosexuals portrayed – less than 5% of total programming | 34% of such in 4 programmes | 36% negative | 50% stereotyped.
Cowan: Studied rep. in BBC – gay life 5x more likely to be portrayed neg. over pos. | Homosexuals also more likely to be defined by sexuality.
News Media: Experienced neg. rep. due to moral panic about Aids epidemic.
Changes in Stereotypes
Growing Tolerance: STs declining | Content insight to homosexual life e.g. Sonya in Eastenders .
The Pink Pound: Companies utilized gay and lesbian markets | Pluralists suggests media companies respond to what homo sexual audiences want.
Sanitization of Gay Sexuality
Gill (2007): Male STs rep. in sanitised way | presented as stylish | however – lesbians highly sexualised and receive no other exposure
Triple Effect: 1. Appeal to homosexual market | 2. Not offending hetro. aud. and adv. | 3. Not challenging hetro. ideology – secure hegemony.
Impact of News Values: Some gays and stories in nature of paedophilia and sexualisation on children (Moral Panic).  – fits news values.