In What Ways Do Images Construct Identities? Discuss Using Specific Examples.

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NAME: SEBASTIAN T

ESSAY QUESTION 3

In what ways do images construct identities? Discuss using specific examples.

In what ways do images construct identities? Discuss using specific examples. Stuart Hall defines identity as an ‘already accomplished fact, which the new cultural practices then represent’. We should think instead of ‘identity as a ‘production’ which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside, representation’ (Hall 1994 p.392). An individual’s sense of belonging to a particular group, thinking, feelings and behaviour can also be referred to as identity. One’s cultural image can construct identity; such features as hair, skin tone and height. History shapes our identity. Identity is very important in all societies, without identity we would not have culture. Identity in nature is a subliminal part of our subconscious and the events around us. The history and culture that shapes and models our society and the things of everyday life take over and gets embedded into the picture, most at times with no effort on our behalf. (Ipsos, 2006) I will talk about how some young people pick their identity from the media, their ethnicity, and culture and how we all learn and portray our racial identity. In her article on Media Use in Identity Construction, Katherine Hamley states that ‘young people have such frequent access and an interest in the media, it is fair to say that their behaviour and their sense of ‘self’ will have been influenced to some extent by what they see, read, hear or discover for themselves’( Hamley, 2001). The media teaches us how to be men and women. It shows us how to dress, look and consume and also how to react to members of different races and social groups. All this can be part of constructing a personal identity. Most young people perceive their identities as being complex, diverse and contradictory, and demonstrate a reflexive awareness of their own sense of self as a phenomenon which is constructed personally, continually revised and displayed to others. This suggests that the media functions as a resource young people use to formulate and perceive their present identities, as well as articulate possible future selves or how they want to look like. (Awan, 2007) Research has uncovered and provided insights into how young people talk about and rationalize their own lives and judge the validity and ascendancy of a national identity. (Awan, 2007) Moreover, thinking about national identity or just personal identity might be seen as a subconscious preoccupation for young people. The nature of identity is that it is a subliminal part of our subconscious and the events around us, the culture and history that shapes our society and the stuff of everyday life takes over and gets woven into the picture, almost with no effort on our part. (Awan, 2007)

In 2004 The BBC run an article on how young people tend to be portrayed badly. A review specially made by young people in the Now magazine, suggested that third of press articles about young people were about crime, violence and 71% saw young people negatively. Not only are young people portrayed badly, the whole issue is actually adding to the problem on the streets. Because of the widespread impact of TV it makes it acceptable to behave badly because it appears "normal" (in terms of what we see on TV) to most people. (BBC news, 2004) Some young people may pick their identity from reading an article like this. They might say if the media is telling us that we are criminals and violence so we will be because media shapes society. The Youth campaigner, cited in the same website (BBC news, 2004) says the young are being unfairly targeted and should not be linked automatically with anti-social behaviour. A draft code has been to encourage more balanced reporting of young people, with an award scheme for those providing positive images of the young. Another aspect of how young people can pick or change their...
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