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Lecture 2

Week 2 - Wednesday January 15 Power & Representation I- Media and Popular Culture ...jan 15.pdf
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Department
Social Science
Course
SOSC 1502
Professor
Amar Wahab
Semester
Fall

Description
Week 2: Wednesday January 15 Power & Representation I: Media and Popular Culture Readings: §Jhally, Image-Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture (CK) §Mantia, Finding Our Voice in the Mainstream Media Madness (CK) §Grewal & Kaplan, Introductory Essay to Part III, Representations, Cultures, Media, & Markets (G&K) - representation to address the ideas and images that pervade the media ad forms of communication and culture, written and visual - representations allow us to think about how art, media and communication create meanings in specific times and places - representation stands for how we understand, think about or make meaning about something or someone - consumption— the way something is interpreted - set of practices—production, circulation and consumption—underlies any work of art or media - all knowledge could be seen as biased—some particular viewpoint or worldview informs the content, the form it takes, and how it is produced and circulated - images arent natural or inevitable - women are not just the object of media industries - they participate in ways from writers, actors, artists, directors and producers to workers at many jobs that are invisible to viewers and consumers - even in supporting the white collar media workers: nannies, food preparers, servers etc - since women have historically been more likely to be the service and support workers rather than the creators and manufacturers, they have also been less likely to profit from the media and art industries - gender is part of the division of labour that makes products of many kinds available in culture industries - middle class women in industrial societies were positioned to become the model for the ideal costumer - middle class women remain the paramount symbol of consumption - superslim barbie like figure pervades mass media, yet we know that such a body is almost impossible to realize - billion dollar diet, cosmetic and fashion industries have capitalized on the creation of a desire for scuba abode and related fashions in clothing and appearances - for many feminists the biological sex of the creator does not ensure that the representation works against dominant stereotypes - without literacy and education, women may be unable to own property, follow a profession or participate in electoral politics - women cannot be citizens or modern individuals if they do not have access to information - to be cultured is elite - low cultured is open commercial and does not get judged or valued in the same way as artistic work - women excluded from elite culture, mass culture (lower culture) is directed to female consumers - objects created by women outside the west have been viewed as primitive §Berger, Ways of Seeing (G&K) - the way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe in - we see what we only choose to look at - to touch something is to situate oneself in relation to it - we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves - we always situate ourselves inside the landscape - a mans presence is dependent upon the promise of power (moral, physical, temperamental, economic, social, sexual) which he embodies - power he exercises on others - women presence is manifest in her gestures, voice, opinions, expressions, clothes, chosen surroundings, taste - how she appears to others and how she appears to men is of crucial importance or what is normally thought of as the success of her life - her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another - how a women appears to a man will determine how she will be treated - everyone of her actions, direct purpose or motivation, is read as an initiation of how should would like to be treated - men act and women appear** - the surveyor of women in herself in male, the surveyed is female - she turns herself into an object of vision: a sight - ideal spectator is always men and females must flatter him §Scanlon, Excerpt from Inarticulate Longing (G&K) - popular culture, desire for a mass appeal negates much discussion of issues that fall outside of mainstream - mass appeal leaves out significant numbers of ppl since mass is associated with white race and middle class - magazines foster anxiehat draws readers to seek out advice and offering of positive messages that encourage them to return the following month - encouraging inaction instead of action, conformity rather than individual expression - the “american women” was presented - do not act but conform to middle class, instead of seeking out new alternatives - the avg women had certain characteristics: married, living in gendered work, nurturing, white, native born, middle class, purchased latests appliances, enormous satisfactions with her life - magazine told to expand their role as consumers rather than producers, to accept the corporate capitalist model and their home based role in it - many choices for women to make, but avg women (middle class) was represented by consensus view - encourage women to externalize norms rather than explore alternatives while they made sense of their changing world Film: Representations and the Media/Stuart Hall ▯ Lecture: - mass media uses modern Truth binary - media is mediated and translated / packaged so we recognize it as creditable info - Culture ⦿ Culture – “the way in which we make sense of and give meaning to the world”. It is “the stories we tell about ourselves and the world.” (Stuart Hall) ⦿ Sut Jhally: “images are the dominant language of the modern world” [104] – i.e., we come to understand, produce and live in our world through images. - Representation ⦿ Arepresentation ‘stands in for’something else (e.g. social values) (Jhally, 98) creates meaning ⦿ Old View: Depicting something as ‘true’or ‘distorted’or biased. The assumption is that there is a true/fixed meaning that can be uncovered; ⦿ New View: Representation as active, as ‘constitutive of the event’; meaning depends on the way things are represented – meaning is produced through representation ⦿ Representations are not natural, fixed, outside of history – the meaning of images shifts according to our location, our way of seeing, the lens of power at different moments. (creates our standpoint) - Ways of Seeing ⦿ If meaning is not fixed (i.e. there is no one true meaning of an image), we need to unpack the forms of representation in an image, what it is trying to say. ⦿ Berger – “every image embodies a way of seeing” – it was produced in a particular way, with a particular lens (e.g. of photographer), but is also seen in a particular way, by the viewer/audience. ⦿ Berger – “the way we see things is strongly determined by what we know or believe.” [269] ⦿ Conventions i.e. rules for making what we think we see seem intelligible e.g. the binary ⦿ “We need to think about how … aspects of culture are produced, circulated, and consumed.” (G&K, 265) ⦿ who's the audience for this magazine, what critics and beliefs does it hold ⦿ production of the image itself ⦿ who produces the image - Representation as Regulation ⦿ Representational strategies regulate what we come to take for granted as ‘T’ruth. ⦿ Representations regulate our ways of ‘K’nowing, not only through their content, but also their rules and conditions (i.e. conventions of seeing). ⦿ Representation is an effect that does not tell us so much about the ‘T’ruth of what we see, but how we have come to make meaning of what we see when we apply the rules of looking (recall hooks’s ‘Representing Whiteness in the Black Imagination’). ⦿ We get the power to name ‘T’ruth when we follow the rules that structure meaning. ⦿ dominate discourse produces truth ⦿ subordinate is the other ⦿ follow a code of regulation ⦿ constructed truth ⦿ when we follow the rules do we have faith we can come to a truth ⦿ police us in ways of dressing, talking, etc through the mass media ⦿ work of hegemony ⦿ the state is the institution, not just the government ⦿ we are all being watched ⦿ self policing -Gendering Representations ⦿ The mainstream media disciplines i.e. regulates bodies, selves, behaviour, relations etc. based on gender, race, sexuality, nation, etc. ⦿ Example: Scanlon’s analysis of the Ladies Home Journal as producing the image of ‘the average woman’i.e. national ideals about femininity (white, middle class, heterosexual, married, domesticated, etc.) [recall Freidan’s article] ⦿ Berger – “men act, women appear.” The male presence is the embodiment of power, the female presence is reflected through how she is compelled to see herself – she is both “the surveyor (male) and the surveyed (female)” and thus “she transforms herself into an object.” [271] ⦿ The Patriarchal Gaze: “the “ideal’spectator is always assumed to be male” [Berger, 272] - Commodification ⦿ The rise of a commodity image culture
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