How does the mass media reinforce sterotypes?

1508 Words Mar 29th, 2004 7 Pages
Stereotyping is a mental activity that is neither natural or necessary; however, due to laziness, upbringing or coincidental experiences (Lester, 1996, p.1), the stereotyping of individuals results in harmful generalisations that ultimately deny an individual's 'unique contribution to humanity' (Lester, 1996, p.1). When the mass media engage in stereotyping, misleading representations concerning members from diverse cultural groups are confirmed. In this essay, a broad range of texts will be used to

examine the ways in which the mass media construct and reinforce social stereotypes around gender, ethnicity and age, as well as how the media shape one's imagination though direct images.

It cannot be doubted that the media profoundly
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444). In their literary pursuits, books have the capabilities to teach children what other children do in their culture and what is expected of them. In a study undertaken in America analysing preschool books, boys played a 'more significant role' in the stories by a 'ratio of 11 to 1' (cited in Newman, 2000, p. 135). Together, boys were portrayed in adventurous roles or undertook activities that required independence and strength, whereas girls were likely to be confined to indoor activities and portrayed as 'passive and dependent' (Newman, 2000, p.135).

Similarly, the mass media construct and reinforce social stereotypes around ethnicity, particularly through their stereotypical images and portrayal of ethnic groups performing certain roles in society. Sociological approaches which attach particular importance to racism emphasise the limitations imposed on ethnic minorities by such hostility and discrimination (Haralambos and Holborn, 1995, p.688). The attention is

not placed upon the ethnic minority itself, however on the wider society which is the minority group.

Negative stereotypes of African Americans in particular have been deeply ingrained in Anglo American cultures since Africans were brought into the country in chains (Lester, 1996, p. 21). The stereotypes served an essential purpose - they justified Anglo enslavement of Africans.