Media Representations and Stereotyping

Age and Social Class
Media representations a
 Categories and images that are used to present
groups and activities to media audiences which may
influence the way we think about theses activities
and groups.
What do you think ?
When looking
at the concept
of age which
stereotypes do
you believe
exist ?
An brief introduction ....
 Different age groups tend to be represented in
different ways in the mass media,
 Children up to the age of 14 are often represented as
consumers of toys and are generally presented in a
positive light.
 Youth from around the age of 15 to early 20s are
often portrayed as a “problem group” in society and
as a major source of anti social behaviour
particularly young working class and especially
African Caribbean males.
 Exciting stories and sensational headlines help to
sell newspapers and attract
What do you think ?
How do the previous
videos reinforce the
concept discussed in the
previous slide ?
Do you believe there are
over exaggerations in the
clips ?
 Mass media generate a sense of excitement by
creating negative stereotypes about young people as
troublemakers, layabout and vandals,
 Exaggeration of the deviant behaviour occasionally
displayed by a small minority from a targeted group,
 Information presented in the media is usually blown
out of proportion,
 As the mass media might be the only source of
information for the majority of people, thus
distorting peoples perceptions and giving a
misleading impression of specific groups.
What do you think ?
Which groups in
society are more
prone to believing
in those
So ....
 Old people who tend to be more home based are
particularly vulnerable to believing such stereotypes
as their impression are likely to be formed strongly
by the media.
Cohen (2002)
 Argues that young people are relatively powerless
and an easily identifiable group to blame for society’s
 African Caribbean males are often used as
scapegoats by the media to create a sense of unity
through the creation of moral panic (common
 Media generated moral panics based on stereotypes
means that all young people from a specific group get
labelled as troublemakers and an antisocial problem
What do you think ?
How do you feel older people
are stereotyped in the media ?
Older people
 Presented in the media in quite negative ways,
 Suffer from negative stereotypes more than any
identifiable group,
 Usually represented as being poor, forgetful,
antisocial, incapable of work, in ill health, difficult
and grumpy.
Key theorist
 Biggs (1993)
 Found that old people were represented in the media
TV sitcoms as being forgetful and difficult,
 Cuddy and Fiske (2004)
 Showed that in the US TV portrayed just 1.5% of its
characters as elderly with most of them in minor roles,
 Usually appeared on TV as a figure of fun and comic
relief usually based on ineffective mental, physical and
sexual capacities.
Gender differences
 Male
 Represented as sexual partners of younger women
(Clooney, Heffner, Willis)
 Political or religious leaders (Mandela)
 Successful business people ( Branson, Murdoch)
 Experts, authoritative journalist, and commentators.
 Female
 Seen as invisible as they are expected to remain
youthful and forever young.
 Lack of positive roles.
Szmigin and Carrigan (2000)
 Study of the views of advertising executives in 19
London agencies,
 Types of products and services which could
appropriately be represented by older people,
 Agencies wary of using models which they believe
might alienate pupils,
Szmigin and Carrigan (2000)
 Growing number of people in the populations have
changed advertising,
 More older women with money to spend (the grey
 Increase of positive images of ageing and positive
roles for older women,
 Conglomerates pursuit of the older people’s market
Visual example ....
Suggest ways in which the
representations of the women in this
ad may or may not challenge media
stereotypes of gender and/or age?
Social Class Intro
 Representations of social class in the mass media has
not been researched as much as other issues,
Working class
 Presented in the stereotypical context of traditional
working class communities such Eastenders and
Corrie, Shameless
 Community values often praised but do not reflect
 Working class communities have declined with the
collapse of traditional industries such as coal mining,
 Often presented in the context of trouble,
undesirable welfare scroungers, unable to cope with
their delinquent children.
Upper class
 Mainly done through the coverage of the monarchy,
 Seen as well bred and cultured,
 Represented through their accents, estates, and a
taste for shooting and hunting,
 Usually represented in costume and period drama.
How does the media represent
social class ?
 Lack of focus on the tensions or class conflict which
exist within society and have been highlighted by key
sociological perspectives such as the Marxist,
 Media through its representation of social class
ensures the cultural hegemony of the dominant
capitalist class which maintains inequality and
Nairn (1988) – Monarchy
 “Royal Family” concept = niceness, decency,
 Royal family can be deemed to be “like us” but “not
like us” – the queen seen as ordinary working mother
doing extraordinary things,
 Obsession with the royal family develops through the
British society following WWII
The Royal Wedding
What do you think ?
is the media
The identity
of the
the Prince’s
so in
Queen. ?
Representations of the upper
class and wealth
 Neo-marxist believe that the mass media representations
of social class tend to be celebrate hierarchy and wealth,
 UK mass media never portrays the upper class in a
critical light,
 Upper classes usually portrayed in an eccentric or
nostalgic way.
Reiner and Young (2007)
 Media tends to portray the UK as a meritocratic
society in which intelligence, talent and hard work
are rewarded,
 Neo Marxist argue that this concept of meritocracy is
in fact a myth as wealth rather than ability opens up
the doors and access to Oxbridge and top jobs,
 Cohen and Young (1981) suggest that the British
culture is a monetary culture characterized by a
“chaos of reward”
 Top businessman are rewarded for failure,
 Celebrities are over rewarded by their “talent”.
Newman (2006)
 Argues that the tabloid media dedicate a great deal of
their content to examining the lives of another
section of the wealthy elite,
 This dedication invites the audiences to admire the
achievements of these celebrities,
 Media over focuses on consumer items such as
luxury cars, costly holiday spots and fashion
The middle class
 Presented as educated and successful as well as able
to cope with problems,
Over represented in the media due to their lifestyle,
Representation fits in with the hegemonic ideology of
the dominant class in society,
Representation justifies the existing class structure
and inequalities by suggesting people need to
become more competent and successful in order to
cope with life.
Representations of the middle
 Overrepresented on TV in dramas, soap operas, and
situation comedies,
 Substantial percentage of newspapers and magazines
are aimed at the middle classes such as a Daily Mail
and the Daily Telegraph which focuses on their
consumptions and taste,
 Content of newspapers expresses the concerns of the
middle classes with regards to the declining moral
standards along with their pride for their British
identity and heritage,
Representations of the working
 Newman (2006) argues that there are very few
situation comedies, television or drama which
focuses on the everyday lives of working class who
constitute a significant section of society,
 Newman argues that when in the media working
class are often depicted in a very non positive light
dumb buffoons (Homer Simpson) and immature
machos (Phil Mitchell),
 Butsch (1992) – working class portrayed as flawed
individuals (benefit cheats, etc)
Representations of the working
 Curran and Seaton (2003) – newspapers aimed at
the working class make the assumption that they are
uninterested in serious analysis of either the political
or social organisation,
 Marxist argues that the content of newspapers such
as the Sun and the Daily Star is ban attempt to
distract the working class audiences from the
inequalities of capitalism.
Representations of poverty and
 Portrayal usually negative and stereotypical,
 Portrayed in the form of statistics in news bulletin
such as figures of unemployment,
 Recent media interest in the labelling of the poor
such as “chavs” which according to Shildrick and
MacDonald (2007) suggest that the poor are
undeserving of sympathy,
 Hayward and Yar (2006) – the term chav is used as
an amusing term of abuse for young poor people
Lawler (2005)
 Chav is used as a term of of digust and contempt,
 Argues that the the media use the dicrimatory and
offensive langauge to violify what they depict as a
peasant underclass symbolised by stereotypical
forms of appearance,
 Swale (2006) – usage of the term NEET (Not in
Emploeyemnt Education or Training),
 Newspaper suggest that those from the underclass
are responsible for their own poverty.
McKendrick et al (2008)
 Poverty is rarelt explored in the media,
 Programmes such as Shameless present a sanitized
picture of poverty,
 Jeremoy Kyle paints a picture of poverty which is seen as
Coohen (2009)
 Argues that the UK mass media was so concerned
about trumpeting the good fortune of British
capitalism that it paid less attention to its casualties,
Read through the handout and
answer the four questions
Exam practice
Using your notes and the handout you have
been given with regards to media
representation and stereotypes create a plan
for the exam question focusing on the
concept of age or social class.

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