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Reflection essay topics: Media images and stereotypes: the necessity of the 21st century or a sign of discrimination?
Media images are necessary in order to provide consistent and understandable information, including advertisement. The images, however, inevitably contain certain stereotypes by various criteria - racial, cultural, gender or those related to social class. The role of stereotypes is controversial: on the one hand, they provide a code, which allows quick digestion of information; on the other hand, they stigmatize individuals or groups and therefore might lead to further discrimination. The danger of media stereotyping derives from the belief in the credibility of certain mass communication media.
Major thesis statements:
1) Stereotypes are important at individual level, since they allow distinguishing between desirable and unwanted, so media images should still remain stereotypical.
2) Media stereotypes spear at organizational level and affect employment in terms of discrimination.
3) Media stereotypes are not always accepted without reflection or consideration, so they allow citizens to develop their own attitudes towards certain issues or social groups.
4) Media stereotypes can't be eliminated, but citizens can be taught to filter the information received.
5) Media stereotypes usually have substantial background and usually originate from certain precedents, thus, they are trustworthy and reliable.
Primary issues to discuss:
1) Why are media stereotypes adopted and used by broad communities? Provide examples.
2) The so-called labeling theory holds that stigmatized individuals behave in accordance with the label pattern, even though this type of behavior hasn't been previously used (for instance, law-abiding individuals, stigmatized as criminals, are more likely to break the law). Discuss this statement in relation to the most popular media stereotypes. Can overgeneralization increase criminality rates?
3) Can mass media distribute information without stereotypes? Is this possible in general?
4) How might media stereotypes promote discrimination? Provide examples.
1) Hutchinson, E. O. Dangerous Double Standards on Stereotypes. Alternet, November 3, 2003. Independent Media Institute, April 4, 2005. Available online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/17094
2) Media Awareness Network. Media Stereotyping, May 12, 2005. Available online at: http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/issues/stereotyping/index.cfm
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