Representations in the Media

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Using material from item A and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations of the ways in which the mass media represent any two of the following: gender; sexuality; disability. (33 Marks)

In recent years gender equality has been looked upon heavily by the government and other institutions, they wanted to create greater equality between men and women thus the Equal Pay Act and the Equal Opportunities Act were put in place; this leads sociologists to look at how gender is represented in the media. Within the media equality between genders are slowly changing; sociologist Abercrombie (1999) ‘soap stories are actually driven by strong female figures such as Carla Connor, Coronation Street and Anderson (1998) ‘argues that women now play major roles in comedies’; they look into how gender stereotypes are changing. However the media outlets have always had the majority of their broadcasters, journalists, main leading actors and sports stars as males; only a minority of women who worked in the sector did the same roles as men. For example, CBBC actors and presents were male dominated. Also Lesley Bast (1993) study of reading schemes for young children showed females in a narrow light compared to men, which is portrayed as a female being the damsel in distress and the male being strong and independence rescuing her. Women are now taking an active leading role across all media outlets; in films such as The Hunger Games, women and girls are obtaining the dominant, leading, independent roles that were once only cast for men; BBC sports reporters especially are women. The media puts an overwhelming amount of pressure onto females, in magazines and on television to look, act and dress a certain way essentially for the male gaze which Gauntlett discusses. In each teen magazine there are a number of advertisements about plastic surgery, dieting and fashion which could lead to depression, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and negative labeling of other girls in society...
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