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Race, Ethnicity and Gender - Essay Example

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Race, Ethnicity and Gender: Portrayal of gender in television shows Introduction: The mass media such as films and television are an integral part of our society, today, which play a crucial role in shaping our ideologies regarding relationships, and what can be deemed as 'acceptable' identities…
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Race, Ethnicity and Gender
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Download file to see previous pages According to Buckingham (2003) the media has the power and influence to shape public perceptions and influence the manner in which relationships and social patterns are defined. Contemporary media has evolved over the years to include a range of assorted programs aimed particularly at the youth and teens wherein critical issues related to portrayal of gender, sexuality and individual identities are telecast and promoted through stereotypical representations of the same. According to Bindig (2008) television and contemporary media plays a powerful role in shaping the teen identities. The gender representations in such shows hence is a critical issue which needs to be analyzed with regard to its impact and influence on the young television audiences. This paper on Portrayal of gender in television shows aims to assess, examine and understand the issue of gender representation on popular North American shows such as Gossip Girl, or One Tree Hill. The social construction of gender: According to Wharton (2011) the term gender refers to the social meaning associated with individuals within a social system. Representation on the other hand refers to "the use of language to say something meaningful about, or to represent, the world meaningfully, to other people ... Because we interpret the world in roughly similar ways, we are able to build up a shared culture of meanings and thus construct a social world which we inhabit together (Hall, 2003, in Krijnen et al., 2010, Pp. 169) Contrary to the general belief that the construction of gender identity is a biological phenomenon, the sociologists believe that it is a sociological phenomenon, whereby the factors that contributes in creating an identity is based not only due to the characteristics acquired by humans by birth, but through socialization and civilization (Lorber et al., 1999; Hogg & Terry, 2000; Gauntlett, 2008). Sociological researchers claim that gender identities are formed and developed through constant human interactions and are highly dependent on one's social background or lifestyles (Zimmerman & West, 1987). The construction of gender theory states that individuals are actively involved in constructing their own gender identities according to their social backgrounds and personal experiences. These identities may or may not be stereotypical in nature and may often contradict their widely perceived representations. Allard et al (1995) states that individuals are "not passively shaped by the larger societal forces such as schools or the media, but are active in selecting, adapting and rejecting the dimensions we choose to incorporate, or not, into our version of gender" (in Nyalunga, 2007). Thus the complexities as well as contradictions regarding one’s identity depend heavily on a range of factors which shape our understanding regarding gender and its role in the society. Television is a mass medium which plays a key role as a cultural storyteller which through its wide range of programming reflects the values, culture, society and ideals of contemporary American society. It shapes the attitudes and beliefs of the audiences and fosters the development of gender identities through repetitive messages concerning ideal behavior and characteristics of individuals. The various patterns adopted by the television medium has the capacity to send various implicit messages regarding acceptability of certain norms and its cultural relevance with regard to diverse group of viewers, thus influencing their ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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