Collective identity and gender How do lifestyle magazines create a collective identity of gender? (of their readers and for their readers)
We will be focusing on: • Collective gender identity in lifestyle magazines: Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Nuts and men's health • Using the adverts within the magazines as an example of the second media. • How do the adverts themselves reinforce a gender identity?
In the exam you will have the choice of two questions: • Question one will usually discuss: to what extent/ how far/ have an opinion or take a view • Question two will usually discuss: explain how something operates/ explain/respond to a quote or a statement. Marking: • Explanation/ analysis/argument (20 marks) • • Use of examples (20 marks) • • Use of terminology (10 marks)
Examples of questions • Media and Collective Identity • Discuss the contemporary representation of a nation, region or social group in the media, using specific textual examples from at least two media to support your answer. • How far does the representation of a particular social group change over time ? Refer to at least two media in your answer.
Key questions to ask: • How do the media form an identity for a group of people? • What is the impact when that identity is negative? • How do the media portray this identity as negative? • Does the audience take the identity as a truth rather than recognise it as a stereotype? • How does the dominant ideology/ collective identity spread? • Are all the depictions in the media negative? • Should collective identity exist in our modern world?
Prompt questions • How do contemporary media represent nations regions and ethic/social/collective groups of people? • How do contemporary representations compare to previous time periods • What are the social implications of different media representations of groups of people? • To what extent is human identity increasingly mediated? • How media that are in public circulation now represent groups of people in different ways • The effects in society of particular kinds of media representation of collective identities • Debates around the idea that our identities are increasingly constructed by or through or in response to the media (and arguments against this notion)
So what is gender? Gender- It is important to understand gender as different from sexuality. Sexuality concerns physical and biological differences that distinguish males from females. Cultures construct differences in gender See gender handout • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIwWS2atEmc&feature=related
Anthony Giddens • The mainstream and mass media have historically played a pivotal role in shaping how girls think and feel about their bodies, their lives and their ambitions. The creation of a coherent self-identity is a process that is universal (Giddens), • Consumerism is one of the clearest ways in which we develop and project a lifestyle
Key themes of Giddens • Gidden allows us to consider how people form their sense of self identity • Anthony Giddens focuses on how we create and shape our identity in modern societies and how the media might feed into this. • The fusion of individual actions and grand social forces in one theoretical approach (Structuration) • The impact of late modernity where all activity is the subject of social reflection, on social actors, relationships and institutions • Some other interests such as globalisation, the state and politics are less of an interest to us
Suggests that we understand rules of society even though they may not be written down or formally enforced, if people go against these social expectations, people may be shocked • In terms of gender, this form of social reproduction – When a boy wears make up, the punishments comes through in things like teasing- up holding what we expect to be the rules of society • Women who choose not to shave their armpits may also be treated as deviants for ignoring a social convention about feminine appearance • Peoples everyday actions therefore reinforce and reproduce a set of expectations and it is this set of other peoples expectations which make up the social forces and social structures (Macro) • “Society only has form and that form only has its effects on people in so far as structure is produced and reproduced in what people do. • He says that people have faith in the coherence of everyday life. We could say that this is why some men get angered when they see other men acting in an effeminate manner- This behaviour challenges their everyday understanding of how things should be in the world • This suggests that gender is something that is learned and policed and which has to be constantly worked on and monitored
The theory of structuration • Human agency (micro level activity) and social structure (macro level forces) continuously feed into each other. The social structure is reproduced through repetition of acts by individual people and can therefore change • He notes that this theory suggests that social life is more random than individual acts but is not merely depicted by social forces. – it is not merely a mass of micro acts but you cant understand it by just looking at the macro. Instead micro (human) and macro (social structure) are in a relationship with each other which reproduces the structure • This means there is a social structure- traditions, institutions, moral codes and established ways of doing things, but it also means that these can be changed when people start to ignore them, replace them or reproduce them differently
Modernity? • The word tradition comes from the Latintraditionem, acc. of traditio which means "handing over, passing on", and is used in a number of ways in the English language: • Beliefs or customs taught by one generation to the next, often orally. For example, we can speak of the tradition of sending birth announcements. A set of customs or practices. For example, we can speak of Christmas traditions. • Modernity typically denotes "a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period", in particular, one marked by progress from agrarianism via the rise of industrialism, capitalism, the nation-state, and its constituent forms of surveillance (Barker 2005, 444). • Conceptually, modernity is related to the modern era and to modernism, but is a discrete concept. I • n context, modernity can denote association with cultural and intellectual movements occurred between 1436 and 1789 (for some thinkers until 1895), and extending to the 1970s, or later (Toulmin 1992, 3–5). • Postmodernity (also spelled post-modernity or termed the postmodern condition) is generally used to describe the economic and/or cultural state or condition of society which is said to exist aftermodernity. This is the stage we are said to be in now
When tradition dominates individual actions do not have to be analysed and thought about so much because choices are already predescribed by traditions and customs • In post traditional times (modernity) we don’t really worry about the traditions from the past and options are at least as open the law and public opinion will allow. All questions of how to behave in society then becomes an issue of how we need have to consider and make decisions about. • Modernity is post traditional. A society cant be fully modern if attitudes, actions or institutions are significantly influenced by traditions. • He suggests that self identity is inescapable in a modern society
Feature of late modernity • Gidden argues we are not in a time of post modernism, we are in a time of late modernity. Its modernity, just with bells on pre modern (traditional culture) modern (post traditional) culture post modern (extreme cases of fully developed modernity) • The self is not something we are born with, and it is not fixed • Instead, the self is reflexively made- thoughtfully constructed by the individual • We all choose a lifestyle • Relationships are increasingly like the pure relationship of equals, where everything has to be negotiated and there are no external reasons for being together • We accept that all knowledge is provisional and may be proved wrong in the future • We need trust in everyday life and relationships or we’d be paralysed by thoughts of unhappy possibilities • We accept risks and choose possible future actions by anticipating outcomes. The media adds to our awareness of risks
Anthony Giddens- Modernity and self identity • Modernity and the self • Change at every level • Media and the self • The reflexive project of the self How would you sum up in Giddens points in terms of gender identity?
Key ideas to reconsider: • Ideology • Semiotics • Preferred/ secondary meanings • Representation • Macro • Micro
Uses and gratifications • Diversion- escape from everyday life • Personal relationships • Personal identity • Surveillance • Information/learning/personal identity/integration and social interaction/ entertainment
Key terms • Gender- It is important to understand gender as different from sexuality. Sexuality concerns physical and biological differences that distinguish males from females. Cultures construct differences in gender
Key terms • Patriarchy- A male dominated order that expounds masculine values and excludes women from positions of power and authority • it is a sociological way of saying that our civilization is pervasively patriarchal (men hold the power, women are secondary); which is based on bias in power based on the socially constructed concepts of gender rooted in historical premises. • Patriarchy is a key concept in Marxist and socialist feminism • from the biological (women are weaker) to the economic (women provide domestic support for the working male, and/or a cheap army of reserve labour) to the cultural (masculinity and traditional masculine skills are valued above femininity and traditionally female skills) • Scopophilia- Pleasure of looking
Stuart Hall • Reception theory provides a means of understanding media texts by understanding how these texts are read by audiences. • Theorists who analyze media through reception studies are concerned with the experience of cinema and television viewing for spectators, and how meaning is created through that experience. • An important concept of reception theory is that the media text—the individual movie or television program—has no inherent meaning in and of itself. Instead, meaning is created in the interaction between spectator and text; in other words, meaning is created as the viewer watches and processes the film. • Reception theory argues that contextual factors, more than textual ones, influence the way the spectator views the film or television program.
Stuart Hall • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTzMsPqssOY&feature=player_embedded#at=63 • See Staurt Hall handout
Contextual factors include elements of the viewer's identity as well as circumstances of exhibition, the spectator's preconceived notions concerning the film or television program's genre and production, and even broad social, historical, and political issues. In short, reception theory places the viewer in context, taking into account all of the various factors that might influence how she or he will read and create meaning from the text
Stuart Hall’s Encoding/decoding model (1973) • Suggest that a media producer may ‘encode’ a certain meaning into their text which would be based on a certain social context and understandings but noted that when another person comes to consume that text, their ‘decoding’ of it, based on their own social context and assumptions, is likely to be somewhat different.
Reception theory • Reception theory- based on the idea that no text has one single meaning • We decode the texts we encounter in individual ways • David Morley- he said there are three main types of reading for any media text • Dominant (hegemonic)- the reader shares the programmes codes and accepts the preferred reading • Negotiated reading- the reader partly shares the programmes codes but modifies it in a way which reflects their position and interests • Oppositional (counter hegemonic) the reader does not share the programmes code and rejects the preferred reading bringing an alternative frame of interpretation e.g a feminist reading of a lads mag.
Reception theory • Focuses entirely on what users / consumers / audiences do with media texts • Argues that meaning lies in the hands of the readers • Elvis Costello – ‘You can only control what the words look like, not what they mean’ • John Fiske – audiences / consumers act as ‘semiotic guerillas’ who configure their own meanings from the texts produced by media institutions • Consider how people can react differently to the same stimulus – different people have different tastes in what is funny / disgusting , acceptable / unacceptable, as the recent furore about Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross shows… • Web 2.0 and the melting of the line between producers and audiences – the age of YouTube and post-modern ‘mash up’ culture and blogs and the ‘anti-journalists’ who work outside the system and outside the rules – audiences are the masters now
Thursday 11th • To understand the concepts of Feminism • To look at Judith Butler and gender trouble • To understand other key theorists • Handouts- Judith Butler essay, Queer theory Chapter, Feminism chapter
Feminism • Feminist media theory can be described as “an unconditional focus on analysing gender as a mechanism that structures material and symbolic worlds and our experiences of them • First wave feminism- refers to early feminists including the suffrage movement that fought to secure the vote for women • Second wave feminism – 1960’s including the women's movement which campaigned for equal rights in employment, marital relationships and sexual orientation- During this period, women wanted to challenge the dominant ideological definitions of femininity • See handouts
Judith Butler • Argues that sex (Male/ female) is seen to cause gender (Masculine/feminine) which is seen to cause desire towards the other gender. Her approach inspired partly by Foucault is basically to smash the supposed links between these so that gender and desire are flexible, free floating and not caused by other factors • Butler says “ there is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender….identity is performitively constructed by the very ‘expressions’ which are said to be its result . Gender is a performance, its what you do, rather than who you are • Argues that we all put on a gender performance, whether traditional or not. • Her book gender trouble argues that gender identities are not fixed rather they are only given meaning when acted out or preformed. • She shares Simone de Beauviours view that one is not born, but rather becomes a woman
Judith Butler • Developed Foucault's work on sexuality with her own original contribution. • The acts by which gender is constituted bear similarities the per formative acts within theatrical contexts • Gender is a performance and how it is performed constitutes what it means to any given society or culture in a particular historical moment • Although gender is a process of acting out rather than being, it is nevertheless subject to social norms and conditions which restrict the range of gender performances it is feasible for individuals to enact. • Gender play is not free for all • The way we view sex and gender is fundamental to the conventional roles attached to gender. She suggests that until sex differences are disregarded and people cease to be classed into either male or female, true equality is impossible. • See Judith Butler essay
Queer theory – See handouts What is Queer Theory? • Queer theory is a set of ideas based around the idea that identities are not fixed and do not determine who we are. It suggests that it is meaningless to talk in general about 'women' or any other group, as identities consist of so many elements that to assume that people can be seen collectively on the basis of one shared characteristic is wrong. Indeed, it proposes that we deliberately challenge all notions of fixed identity, in varied and non-predictable ways. • Queer theory is based, in part,on the work of Judith Butler(in particular her bookGender Trouble, 1990). • It is a mistake to think that queer theory is another name for lesbian and gay studies.
Angela McRobbie • McRobbie has suggested that teenage magazines construct a conservative ideology of femininity (looking at magazines like Jackie) • Suggested that these magazines didn’t allow the readers to act against patriarchal social order. Instead it promoted values of gentility and domesticity • She said this was due to several issues • The code of romance pervades most articles in the magazine especially in the short stories which showed • The girl has to fight to get and keep her man • She can never trust another women unless she is old or ugly • Despite these trials, being a girl and romance are fun (2000) • She also suggests that there is a tendency to encourage readers to conform to the norm- what society expects • The code of fashion and beauty
Janice Winship • Aspirational feminism advocated by women's magazines such as Cosmopolitan • Says there is the ideology of individual success and competiveness in the magazines “I” rather than “we” • To both Winship and McRobbie, success means the achievement of romantic attachments rather than career or educational achievements
Laura Mulvey- The male gaze • Argued that the pleasures of cinema is Scopophilia- the pleasure of looking a voyeuristic gaze directed at other people. She also suggests that pleasure is gained by seeing oneself as the primary character and identifying with them. • In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking is split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its fantasy onto the female figure which is styled accordingly. • Mulvey suggested that in their typical traditional exhibitionist role, women are simultaneously looked at and displayed with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness • Male viewers identify with the male protagonist, and the females are the subject of their desiring gaze. • It also means that the female viewers have to take on the viewpoint of the central male character so that women are denied a viewpoint and of their own and instead participate in the pleasure of men looking at women.
The male gaze • Female characters only have importance in the film apart from as an erotic figure both to the males in the film and the spectators in the cinema. • Her role is to drive the hero to act the way he does. Male viewers would not want the male hero as a sexual object according to the principles of the ruling ideology. • He instead is meant to be admired as an ideal version of the self. • Within her model, the audience, both female is positioned so that they admire the male lead for his actions and adopt his romantic/ erotic view of the women. • This model denies the heterosexual female gaze altogether However it could be said “ Mulvey’s dark and suffocating anaylsis of patriarchal cinema has lost ground to a more confident and empowering approach which foregrounds the possibilities of “subversive” that is, non patriarchal modes of female spectatorship
Using the magazine covers discuss: • How Laura Mulvey’s male gaze theory could be applied? • Discuss the impact for the male and female reader if the male gaze theory is applied • Using the three types of reading in reception theory, discuss what they readings for these front covers are.
Fiske and audience power • John Fiske suggests that popular culture is made by the people not produced by the culture industry. (1989) • It is a step further from Stuart Halls encoding/decoding model • Fiske suggests the power of the audience to interpret media texts and determine their popularity, far outweighs the ability of media institutions to send a particular message or ideology to audiences within their texts • He suggests that we can’t even talk about the people or the audience because a singular mass of consumers does not exist; there is only a range of different individuals with their own changing tastes. • He suggests that people are not merely consumers of texts, the audience rejects this role and becomes a producer, a producer of meanings and pleasures (1989) • This is similar to the concept that WEB 2.0 is turning audiences into producers of their own media.
Fiske also says that everyday media users snatch aspects of the mass produced media and then (re)interpret them to suit their own preferred meanings. The text is a source from which the viewer activates meaning to make sense of their material existence • He says that the meaning of a text is not complete until interpreted by an individual within the context of their lives • He uses Madonna as an example in his work: he said Madonna's image then becomes a site of semiotic struggle between the forces of patriarchal control and feminine resistance. • He also says “she contains the patriarchal meanings of feminine sexuality and the resisting ones that her sexuality is hers to use as she wishes • Perhaps in terms of collective feminine identity, women are also shown this idea
Foucault • We often talk about people as if they have particular attributes as 'things' inside themselves -- they have an identity, for example, and we believe that at the heart of a person there is a fixed and true identity or character (even if we're not sure that we know quite what that is, for a particular person). We assume that people have an inner essence -- qualities beneath the surface which determine who that person really 'is'. We also say that some people have (different levels of) power which means that they are more (or less) able to achieve what they want in their relationships with others, and society as a whole.
Foucault- constant changing ideas • Foucault rejected this view. For Foucault, people do not have a 'real' identity within themselves; that's just a way of talking about the self -- a discourse. An 'identity' is communicated to others in your interactions with them, but this is not a fixed thing within a person. It is a shifting, temporary construction. • People do not 'have' power implicitly; rather, power is a technique or action which individuals can engage in. Power is not possessed; it is exercised. And where there is power, there is always also resistance.
Foucault developed different approaches for his different studies, but his work can be simplistically divided into 'early' Foucault, where he worked on the ways in which state power and discourses worked to constrain people • 'later’ in which that idea of power as a 'thing' is broken down, and it is instead seen as a more fluid relation, a 'technique' which can be deployed.
Althusser and Interpellation • Althusser proposed that individuals are transformed into subjects through the ideological mechanism of interpellation (Chandler 181). • He explained that interpellation works primarily through language and occurs when we are hailed by a message. • To illustrate hailing in the most straight forward way, Althusser offered the following example: when a policeman calls out, Hey, you there!, most people within hearing distance will immediately assume that they are the ones being summoned, even if they have done nothing wrong. • This reaction positions the individual as a subject in relation to the general ideological codes of law and criminality (Brooker 122).
Althusser believed that the dominant beliefs, values and practices that constitute ideology serve a political function. • As we progress through the education system and enter the workforce, ideology works through state institutions to interpellate or construct us into particular subject positions in which our work and lifestyle benefits those who control the processes of production (Smith 208). • The subject positions which are most prevalent configure us in terms of commercial culture - as consumers, taxpayers, employees, automobile drivers, homeowners, or parents. • For instance, come election time, politicians continuously address their audience in their speeches as voters or taxpayers, thereby referring to the subject positions which most benefit them in their capacity as political leaders.
How do life style magazines construct a collective gender identity? • Key questions to consider: • How do these magazines create a collective identity of gender for their readers • What do these magazines say about the gender? • How do they construct them? • How do each of these magazines create gender for their readers and create gender of the opposite sex? • Basically you will have so much information to help you answer the question!
Key prompts from the specification • How do contemporary media represent nations regions and ethic/social/collective groups of people? • How do contemporary representations compare to previous time periods • What are the social implications of different media representations of groups of people? • To what extent is human identity increasingly mediated? • How media that are in public circulation now represent groups of people in different ways • The effects in society of particular kinds of media representation of collective identities • Debates around the idea that our identities are increasingly constructed by or through or in response to the media (and arguments against this notion)
What are the social implications of different media representations of groups of people? • Stereotyping? What is the impact? • What power does the audience have to resist? • How do we measure the representations we encounter? (think theories) • How do we measure up against the re-presentations we encounter?