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Gender, Class, And Race Stereotypes In American Television Essay, Research Paper

Gender, Class, and Race Stereotypes in American Television

A Contented Analysis

Gender, category, and race stereotypes abound in modern-day society, much like

they have done throughout human history. With the coming of telecasting, nevertheless,

stereotyped premises have become so permeant, and so diffused, that some call for

a serious and purposeful examination of telecasting & # 8217 ; s contents. On the undermentioned pages,

assorted content analyses of telecasting plans will be addressed, followed by treatments on the greater deductions race, category, and gender stereotypes have on society.

The research method most frequently used in analyzing media images is called content analysis. Contented analysis is a descriptive method in which research workers analyze the existent content of paperss and/or plans. By consistently numbering points refering to a specific class, research workers are able to gestate a larger theoretical model based on their observations of media content ( Wiseman 1970 ) .

Contented analyses of telecasting scheduling show, that during premier clip hours, work forces make up the huge bulk of characters shown. Furthermore, adult females characters found during that same clip frame are chiefly in comedies, while work forces predominate in play. Therefore, the deductions are that work forces are to be taken serious, while adult females should non. ( Tuchman 1978 ) . Similarly, content analyses on soap operas reveal extremely stereotyped representations of the genders. In soap operas, strong, wilful adult females are preponderantly depicted as nefarious, while the more & # 8220 ; benevolent & # 8221 ; adult females are fishy of exposure and naivete ( Benokraitis 1986 ) . Furthermore, another crisp gender-stereotypical contrast on telecasting content can be seen in advertizements. In fact, 75 % of all telecasting ads utilizing adult females are for kitchen or bathroom related merchandises ( Tuchman 1978 )

On norm, adult females tend to be portrayed in functions in which they are underestimated, condemned or narrowly defined, ensuing in one research worker termed & # 8220 ; the symbolic obliteration & # 8221 ; of adult females by the media ( Tuchman 1978 ) . Conversely, work forces are normally depicted in high-status functions in which they dominate adult females ( Lemon 1978 ) .

These stereotyped images of work forces and adult females found in the media, non merely surrogate gender-stereotypes, but besides those of category and race every bit good. Studies done on the comparative laterality characters portray revealed that both work forces and adult females of professional occupational position are more likely to be found in play. Propertyless characters, nevertheless, are found preponderantly in comedies, where they are presented in class-stereotypical functions. The resulting feelings are, as one research worker concluded, that & # 8220 ; working category lives are amusing, whereas serious play occurs elsewhere. & # 8221 ; ( Andersen 26 ) . In the same vena, surveies find that work forces are most dominant on telecasting, except in state of affairs comedies, where low-status position adult females supercede work forces in comparative laterality. ( Lemon 1978 ) . In add-on, these stereotyped forms above are farther confounded by race.

In footings of race, white characters on telecasting far outnumber members of minority categories. Although estimations are that African-Americans ticker telecasting significantly more than Whites, or around 10 per centum, they are a little proportion of the characters seen. Despite a tendency towards cut downing that disagreement, there are still limited positive images of African-Americans on telecasting. When Afro-american characters appear, they have been shown to exhibit a narrow scope of character types. Almost half of all African americans on telecasting are either portrayed as & # 8220 ; felons, retainers, entertainers, or jocks ; seldom are [ African-Americans ] portrayed as loving, sexual, sensitive people. & # 8221 ; ( Andersen 26 ) . Despite this desperate deceit of African-Americans in telecasting scheduling, their state of affairs is paradoxically positive when compared to other minority groups.

Asian-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans are virtually absent from telecasting scheduling. When they do look, they are normally in the signifier an & # 8220 ; occasional recreation, alien objects, or fringy and unseeable characters & # 8221 ; ( An

dersen 56 ) To farther accentuate that statement, content analyses provides a distinct decision. In pertinent informations from 1984, it was shown that of the 264 speech production functions on telecasting, Hispanics had merely 3. Furthermore, two-third of Latino characters on telecasting assumed the function of a condemnable ( Stables 1985 ) The invisibleness of minority groups on telecasting can be seen in, as one researched termed, the ‘disappearing’ roles they severally hold. For illustration, on many telecasting plans “minority work forces and adult females mutely appear in backgrounds to provide to the demands of dominant families or individuals” ( Andersen 56 ) .

The greater social effects for this stereotyped portraiture on telecasting can be seen clearly in kids & # 8217 ; s telecasting scheduling and the ensuing feelings they have on kids. Children & # 8217 ; s programming include even fewer adult females than do grownup shows, in add-on, as with grownup shows, female characters are likely to be seen as amusing, household-bound, or as victims of domestic maltreatment ( Gerbner 1978 ) . The influence of gender pigeonholing on telecasting can be seen on the fact that kids who spent the most clip watching telecasting are besides those who demonstrate the most stereotyped sex-role values. To farther solidify that evident causal consequence, a big proportion of simple school kids reported that they learned about how African-Americans expression and frock from watching telecasting. ( Andersen 87 ) .

The enormous influence telecasting has on modern-day American civilization has been compared by some to that of a national faith. Social scientist Gerbner concludes,

Television is used practically by all the people and it is used practically all the clip. It collects the most heterogenous populace of groups, categories, races, and sexes, and nationalities in history into a national audience that has nil in common except telecasting or shared messages. Television thereby becomes the common footing for societal interaction among a really widely dispersed and diverse national community. As such it can merely be compared, in footings of its maps, non to any other medium but to the preindustrial impression of faith.

If telecasting provides for the care of civilization, so it must defy societal motions that challenge the civilization and seek to transform societal establishments. The media does non to the full defy such alterations ; instead, they defend the traditional system by co-opting new images that societal motions generate. Consequently, we now see & # 8220 ; liberated & # 8221 ; images of adult females on telecasting, but 1s that still carry stereotyped gender premises. For illustration, adult females may be shown as working, but they are still all beautiful, immature, rich, and thin. ( Andersen 29 )

Segregation by race, category, and gender juxtaposes the human potency. It expands cultural divides and gives people small entree to the lives of others. Therefore, it is non unreasonable to presume that telecasting offers, for some, the lone indirect experience of the enormousness the human cultural and single roof of the mouth has to offer. Unfortunately, in visible radiation of all that has been covered above, telecasting fails miserably in portraying the human potency. Despite increased consciousness of harmful stereotypes, cultural wonts are difficult to agitate. A simplified worldview based on stereotypes, nevertheless soothing it may be, is merely achieved by the forfeit of understanding. Therefore, in order to derive apprehension of others, and accordingly one & # 8217 ; s self, one should possibly look elsewhere than towards telecasting.


Andersen, Margaret L. Thinking About Women: Sociological Positions on Sexual activity and Gender. New York: Macmillan, 1988.

Eagly, Alice H. and Maureen Crowley. & # 8220 ; Gender and Helping Behavior: A Meta-analytic Review of the Social Psychological Literature. & # 8221 ; Psychological Bulletin 100 ( 1986 ) :283-308.

Eagly, Alice H. and Blair T. Johnson. & # 8220 ; Gender and Leadership Style: A Meta- Analysis. & # 8221 ; Psychological Bulletin 108 ( 1990 ) :233-256

Hyde, Janet S. and Marcia C. Linn & # 8220 ; Gender Differences in Verbal Ability: A Meta Analysis. & # 8221 ; Psychological Bulletin 104 ( 1988 ) :53-69

Rothenberg, Paula S. Race, Class, & A ; Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study. New York: St. Martin & # 8217 ; s P, 1992.


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