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Media and Collective Identity: Representation of Young Women Exemplar

Rob Miller | Tuesday September 02, 2014

Categories: A Level, AQA A Level, AQA A2, OCR A Level, OCR A2, Collective Identity, Representation of Women, Representation of Youth, Key Concepts, Representation & Stereotyping, Hot Entries, Admin, Staffroom, Exemplar Materials

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How far does the representation of a social group change over time?

It is important to remember exactly this – that representations change. This essay explores the representation of young women in the media and discusses notions of identity. In 2014, audiences could and should expect to see distinct moves away from old fashioned, traditional patriarchal culture and the embracing of a much more pluralistic understanding of gender representation but as David Gauntlett states: “identity is complicated, everyone’s got one”. Young women are sometimes empowered but often subject to stereotyping which I hope to illustrate using two primary media – Television and in Women’s Lifestyle Magazines but also cross referencing my points with other media.

Gender representation is affected by genre, cultural factors and in terms of media representations on audience and up to a point, audience expectations. Media producers encode dominant preferred meanings into texts but mainstream audiences that consume or decode mass media arguably have as much responsibility in terms of the representation of how women are represented – this means that meaning is put in but also taken out whether on television, looking at gender in advertising, sports journalism, gender in situation comedy, video games and one of my case studies, Women’s Lifestyle Magazines for example. Both producers and audiences dictate representations but using Stuart Hall as a framework, audiences also decode dominant and oppositional readings – in Hollyoaks, a long running British soap opera broadcast on E4 the programme is known for its sexualised narratives and young male and female characters who are framed for the female and male gaze; women are obsessed with their interpersonal relationships are seen to be so. Hollyoaks reflects an evolution in the soap opera genre to deliberately attract, and maintain young audiences through upbeat,...

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