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Media and identity. What is an identity?. All of us have a vision of who we are. It is one of the most important components of our psychological and emotional well-being. It is an anchor for our lives. It guides our behaviors, beliefs, relationships. It’s personal.

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what is an identity
What is an identity?
  • All of us have a vision of who we are. It is one of the most important components of our psychological and emotional well-being. It is an anchor for our lives. It guides our behaviors, beliefs, relationships.
it s personal
It’s personal
  • Our identity is perhaps the most personal thing we have. We are likely to see ourselves as having much greater insight into what makes us tick than anyone else has.
    • When others claim to know us better than ourselves, we are likely to reject the notion and, even further, to resent the claim.
identities are not innate
Identities are not innate
  • While certain personality tendencies and physical characteristics are genetically determined and contribute to one’s identity, they do not determine it.
identities are constructed
Identities are constructed
  • A range of influences are brought to bear upon identities
    • Some by you
    • Some by your family
    • Some by your friends
    • Some by your community
    • Some by the larger society
    • (etc.)
you don t always get to pick
You don’t always get to pick
  • There are ‘ascribed’ characteristics that you may or may not wish applied to you, but you have no control over
    • Race
    • Sex
    • Gender
    • Age
    • Etc.
ascribed characteristics
Ascribed characteristics
  • Completely (or partially) without your choice you are lumped into a category that carries certain connotations within the society
    • This will often carry a negative connotation that is largely beyond your ability to control
    • You may resist accepting the negative implications of your ascribed category but you are necessarily faced with it
grossberg wartella whitney wise from your text
Grossberg, Wartella, Whitney, Wise [From your text]
  • A number of binary oppositions are set up in society
    • Men/Women
    • Rich/Poor
    • Black/White
    • Good/bad
  • Each category includes the negation of the other
    • Women are not just women, they are ‘not-men’ (and vice versa)
  • In each binary, one position is socially privileged
  • A number of the myths of the culture explain unequal treatment of groups
    • Myths aren’t necessarily right or wrong, they are accepted within the society regardless of their objective truth or falsehood (making them ‘true’ in practice)
  • Additionally, one of the binaries comes to be seen as the ‘normal’ or ‘ideal’ for all
    • “Male gaze of the camera”
    • Naming of minority group members while majority group is otherwise assumed:
      • “There was this little girl who came by and sold me some Girl Scout cookies. She was so cute. And later a little Black girl came by. I had to tell her I had already bought cookies. She was so sweet . . . She thanked me anyway.”
  • The binary opposition of the ideal or natural member of the pair is delegated to the position of the “other”
    • Exotic
    • Dangerous?
    • Inferior
    • Mysterious
    • An object both of disgust and desire
social struggle
Social struggle
  • One of the areas of social struggle in heavily mediated societies is over the representation of groups and the characteristics assigned to them
    • There is a constant ‘clash over signification’ with regard to such categories as gender, race, class, age, religion, sexual preference, and so on
the roles of media
The roles of media
  • Media take up multiple positions in the clash over signification
  • Many act in a conservative manner, representing the world as it was in the past, failing to register significant changes
    • Often done to satisfy a significant group of people who may still represent majority or ‘mainstream’ beliefs and thoughts
the roles of media1
The roles of media
  • In stark contrast, media can often be a place of challenge to existing beliefs and of the identification of trends and changes only emerging
    • News
    • Documentary
    • “Edgy” entertainment content
differences among media
Differences among media
  • Certain media have traditionally been seen as more open to content that challenges social norms
    • Books
    • Painting
    • Music
    • Film (after the advent of TV)
    • Radio (after the advent of TV)
    • Pay TV compared to Cable TV compared to broadcast
    • Computer mediated communication
variation within media
Variation within media
  • The variation within media can be great—depending on a number of things, content may be either quite ‘traditional’ or quite ‘progressive’
    • MTV vs. Hallmark channel
what then is the overall impact of media
What, then, is the overall impact of media?
  • Probably somewhat challenging to the status quo, as voices from outside the system are disseminated. Just as content challenging to system values in a community arrives from Hollywood, so too does American propaganda arrive in Iran on a daily basis. In today’s world content from around the globe is constantly being accessed by people worldwide via the Internet.
presentation of self
Presentation of self
  • People choose to adopt certain identities publicly, to present themselves in certain ways to the world
    • They behave in certain ways with the conscious intention of invoking a certain image in the mind of others
where do ideas for one s identity come from
Where do ideas for one’s identity come from?
  • Socialization in school, church, etc.
    • Learn the characteristics of a good man or woman
  • Parents
    • Most children love and honor their parents
  • People may model themselves on:
    • ‘Reference groups’
    • ‘Role models’
      • Especially common among teens, young adults
roles of media
Roles of media
  • Indications of what society values
    • Provides goals for people to strive towards
  • ‘Reference groups’ or ‘role models’
    • Groups or individuals that exhibit success in reaching social/personal goals
    • May be in conflict with those preferred by other sources of socialization such as church or family
Information on how to represent identities
    • How do you demonstrate that you are a ‘man’?
    • How do you pursue wealth while also staying within the limits of the law?
      • Is there a model of someone who also rose from a low status to great wealth? What behaviors did she exhibit in doing so? How did she present herself?
Marcia developed the Identity Status Interview, a method of semi-structured interview for identity research, and subsequently proposed four stages, or Identity Statuses, of psychological identity development:
  • Identity Diffusion, is the status of individuals who have not yet experienced a crisis or made any commitments. Not only are they undecided about occupational and ideological choices, they are also likely to show little interest in such matters.
  • Identity Foreclosure, is the status of individuals who have made a commitment but not experienced a crisis. This occurs most often when parents hand down commitments to their adolescents, usually in an authoritarian way, before adolescents have had a chance to explore different approaches, ideologies, and vocations on their own.
  • Identity Moratorium, is the status of individuals who are in the midst of a crisis but whose commitments are either absent or are only vaguely defined.
  • Identity Achievement, is the status of individuals who have undergone a crisis and made a commitment.
  • While Marcia primarily focused on the adolescent years, his theory is applicable in adulthood. One study, exploring correlations between the identity statuses of Marica's model and social behaviors, focused on young adults ranging in age from 19 to 35.[2]
  • People's identity status is not specifically limited to an age group. Individuals may explore elements tied to their identity through out life, such as faith, ideology, and occupational preference to name a few.