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Media Representation - David Chandler

Media Representation - David Chandler

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Published by Julie Thrasher
Article by David Chandler on the theory of representation as it pertains to media studies - a great outline and introduction to quite a substantial level yet still easily understandable for A Level and very high GCSE
Article by David Chandler on the theory of representation as it pertains to media studies - a great outline and introduction to quite a substantial level yet still easily understandable for A Level and very high GCSE

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Julie Thrasher on Apr 12, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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03/17/2006 03:01 PMMedia RepresentationPage 1 of 5file:///Users/juliethrasher/Documents/Mags%20&%20Gender/gender%20articles/Media%20Representation%20chandler.webarchive
Media Semiotics
Daniel Chandler
Media Representation
refers to the construction in any medium (especially the
) of aspects of ‘reality’ such as people, places, objects, events, culturalidentities and other abstract concepts. Such representations may be in speechor writing as well as still or moving pictures.The term refers to the
involved as well as to its
. Forinstance, in relation to the key markers of identity - Class, Age, Gender andEthnicity (the 'cage' of identity) - representation involves not only howidentities are represented (or rather
) within the text but also howthey are constructed in the processes of production and reception by peoplewhose identities are also differentially marked in relation to suchdemographic factors. Consider, for instance, the issue of 'the gaze'. How domen look at images of women, women at men, men at men and women atwomen?
03/17/2006 03:01 PMMedia RepresentationPage 2 of 5file:///Users/juliethrasher/Documents/Mags%20&%20Gender/gender%20articles/Media%20Representation%20chandler.webarchive
A key in the study of representation concern is with the way in whichrepresentations are made to seem ‘natural’.
Systems of representation
are themeans by which the concerns of 
are framed; such systems‘position’ their subjects.Semioticsand
content analysis
(quantitative) are the main methods of formalanalysis of representation.Semiotics foregrounds the process of representation.Reality is always represented - what we treat as 'direct' experience is'mediated' by perceptual codes. Representation always involves 'theconstruction of reality'.All texts, however 'realistic' they may seem to be, are constructedrepresentations rather than simply transparent 'reflections', recordings,transcriptions or reproductions of a pre-existing reality.Representations which become familiar through constant re-use cometo feel 'natural' and unmediated.Representations require interpretation - we make modality judgementsabout them.Representation is unavoidably selective, foregrounding some thingsand backgrounding others.Realists focus on the 'correspondence' of representations to 'objective'reality (in terms of 'truth', 'accuracy' and 'distortion'), whereasconstructivists focus on whose realities are being represented and
03/17/2006 03:01 PMMedia RepresentationPage 3 of 5file:///Users/juliethrasher/Documents/Mags%20&%20Gender/gender%20articles/Media%20Representation%20chandler.webarchive
whose are being denied.Both structuralist and poststructuralist theories lead to 'reality' and'truth' being regarded as the products of particular systems of representation - every representation is motivated and historicallycontingent.
Key Questions about Specific Representations
What is being represented?How is it represented? Using what codes? Within what genre?How is the representation made to seem 'true', 'commonsense' or'natural'?What is foregrounded and what is backgrounded? Are there anynotable absences?Whose representation is it? Whose interests does it reflect? How doyou know?At whom is this representation targeted? How do you know?What does the representation mean to you? What does therepresentation mean to others? How do you account for thedifferences?How do people make sense of it? According to what codes?With what alternative representations could it be compared? How doesit differ?Areflexiveconsideration - Why is the concept of representationproblematic?Comparisons with related representations within or across genres or mediacan be very fruitful, as can comparisons with representations for otheraudiences, in other historical periods or in other cultural contexts.
Approaches to Teaching Representation
: e.g. class, age, gender, ethnicity, or more broadly viaidentity, stereotyping, ‘prejudice’ (typically racial) or ‘bias’ (typicallypolitical); also topics such as royalty, motherhood, childhood,nationhood etc.
: e.g. ‘bias’ in news, class in soap operas or sitcoms, genderin ads.
: e.g. in TV, film, comics, magazines (mags usefulfor representations aimed at specific audiences)Television is... the most rewarding medium to use when teaching

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