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Representations of Disability

Rob Miller | Tuesday August 09, 2011

Categories: Key Concepts, Representation & Stereotyping, Hot Entries

Change continually affects the way we teach representation. Technological advancement would be the most obvious change, try telling your students they are in the middle of the fastest paced technological revolution the world has ever seen and they will look at you with a blank face because they are living it – this continually evolving form of change for many has been ‘normalised’. Web 1.0 to 2.0 and now Web 3.0 are generic terms banded around that are often misunderstood; in a similar way that Martin Bell described television coverage of war and conflict in 1993 as “immediacy without understanding?, digital distribution, user generated content and so called ‘new media’ representations need to be re-evaluated in terms of Media Studies.

Socio-political change is potentially less obvious in it effect on the way we teach the subject.

Brokeback Mountain for example would not have received such wide distribution had same sex Civil Partnerships not become more common and legalised in some US states and in the UK in 2005.

A Black American US President and the first female head of the IMF have been catalysts for pluralistic change in terms of representation of race, ethnicity and gender while desensitisation and deregulation has paved the way for more graphic, challenging texts like the Saw franchise

Politically sensitive developments thanks in part to Wikileaks and July 2011 upheaval s at the News of the World and subsequently their parent company, multi-national conglomerate News Corporation and the institution of the Metropolitan Police undoubtedly will have effects on the way we approach teaching certain topics but what about Representation of Disability?

One argument suggests despite positive representations of disability in society e.g. Paralympic success, representation of disability in the media is more about tokenism and voyeurism than pluralistic change. Counter to this argument it could be suggested that mainstream...


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