Gender and Media Theories and concepts

Gender and Media Theories

Media research:

  • Study media content, processes, effects on audiences.
  • Both quantitative and qualitative Measurement or rich description
  • Therefore, Both can be employed to show a full picture

Mass communication methods

  • Content analysis: qualitative and quantitative
  • Surveys/questionnaires
  • Textual analysis
  • Historical analysis
  • Ethnography (field research)
  • In-depth Interviews
  • Lastly, Participant observation

Agenda setting:

  • Additionally, Long-held theory which states that media don’t tell people what to think, but rather, tell people what to think about. (McCombs and Shaw, 1972)
  • Media emphasize the important issues in society.
  • So, These ideas and issues are chosen by media gatekeepers.

Symbolic annihilation: Gender and Media Theories

  • However, Absence in the media of certain groups, which leads to their marginalization in society.
  • Lack of coverage and representation in media symbolically dismisses these groups as important.
  • Usually refers to minorities, women, disabled people, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, people of different religions and cultural groups. (Tuchman, 1978)

Cultivation and social learning theories

  • George Gerbner and other researchers postulated that heavy exposure to cultural products (media) affects a person’s concept of reality.
  • For example, people who watch a lot of crime shows on television tend to think crime is more prevalent than it actually is.
  • Social learning theory (Bandura) says that people model behavior that they see in others or from television/film.


  • How people use their expectations to make sense of everyday life (Erving Goffman)
  • In news media, framing refers to the way journalists construct common scenarios that uphold audiences’ expectations. Therefore, they reinforce the status quo.
  • Examples: Naming any type of scandal with –gate, as in Watergate
  • Missing white woman syndrome
  • Student who died was an honor student with a promising future n“Welfare queen,” “homeless addict,” “illegal immigrant”


  • theory that maintains the dominant group in society holds powerful control, imposing its ideologies as “common sense.”
  • Subordinate groups are persuaded to accept the dominant ideology, allowing the system to work and the dominant group to remain in power.
  • The theory was developed by Antonio Gramsci, Italian imprisoned for his opposition to the fascist leader Mussolini.
  • Subordinate groups may defy the hegemonic structure, but it largely remains intact and the power structure stays in place.
  • What is the dominant group in American society as far as race, gender, class, economic status, education?


  • Using signs or symbols to provoke emotional responses from audiences.
  • These signs are socially constructed, so certain groups of people share common meaning about what the sign or symbol represents. Examples:
  • The U.S. flag
  • Rainbow flag
  • Car brands (what does a BMW mean?
  • What does a Honda mean? What does a Maserati mean?) n“The real world”

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