Sociologists: Stereotypes and Representations

Sociologists: Stereotypes and Representations:

  • Men
  • Women
  • Sexuality
  • Disability
  • Class
  • Old Age
  • Youth
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  • Women are mainly presented in two roles: domestic and sexual
  • Men outnumbered women 3 to 1 on TV
  • Women are symbolically annihilated by the media via "absence, condemnation and trivialization"
  • Games shows, quizzes and discussions invaraibly hosted by men

Bulter and Paisley:

  • 90% voiceovers on adverts are male
  • 70% of women were shown doing domestic chores on adverts.
  • 60% of women shown in family roles


  • Soaps are driven by strong female characters
  • Women now feature in police dramas as main characters as well as in sitcoms. Previously, they were only peripheral.
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  • Popular shows in the 1980s, such as The A Team, represented masculinity as being related to power and authority.
  • Police dramas have now blurred gender differences presenting a more feminised representation of men.


  • Sport is a refuge for men as a large number of people view women's sport as inferior to men's. 
  • 80-90% of media coverage is dedicated to men's sport.


  • Men Behaving Badly has leading characters who reject the feminisation of male characters.
  • Instead they are self-centred, boorish and rude whilst the female characters are more sophisticated and intelligent


  • Lads magazines concentrate on male interests such as gadgets and sports.
  • The sexism expressed is light-hearted and ironic
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  • Representation of male homosexuals are often camp, effeminate characters
  • They make fun of the serious and respectable
  • They have a slightly subversive role but don't challenge the typical male stereotype.


  • There are no 'just plain gay folks' in the media.
  • Homosexuality is shown as a problem, although portrayals have become more sympathetic (eg: Friends and Eastenders)


  • Lesbian films have achieved box office success
  • But, they have little to do with real life lesbian relationships and more to do with male, heterosexual fantasies.
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  • The media has two main approaches to disability.
  • An  obsession with miricle cures via medical intervention and treating those with disabilities as victims.
  • We are encouraged to pity them and very rarely are they shown leading 'normal' lives.

Cumberbatch and Negrine:

  • There were no disabled people on quizzes or current affairs shows.
  • They also only make up 0.5% of characters on fictional programmes
  • Telethons do raise money but also maintain negative stereotypes and may seem patronising or humiliating

O'Sulliavan and Jewkes:

  • There are now far more disabled people on TV.
  • They are presented in a far more rounded way in films such as: My Left Foot, Rainman and The Piano.
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  • TV rarely represents the interests of the working classes.
  • News and current affairs are dominated by middle-class experts.
  • Working class men are shown as dumb, inarticulate and old fashioned
  • But since the 1960s portrayals have aimed to adopt a more sympathetic and realistic approach.


  • Soaps are the most popular TV programmes
  • As working class communities have declined, fictional ones have multiplied
  • People interact with soaps because they compensate for the loss of community
  • People become attached to the chacacters, Marxists argue this is another form of false concsiousness.
  • Many of the characters are stereotypical representations
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Old Age


  • From a Marxist viewpoint, the elderly are economically useless to Capitalism
  • Emphasis in the media is on the elderly as a soical and economic problem.
  • Old age is to be feared and delayed

US Survey:

  • Only 3% of prime time characters are over 70.
  • 33% of male prime time characters were over 40 compared to 19% of female characters
  • Male stars are often given leading ladies who are half their age.


  • The old cliche "mutton dressed as lamb" is no longer applicable
  • The over 50s now have a far more positive image, for examples, Cher and Judi Dench
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Daily Express:

  • 'Clockwork Orange Society'
  • Many reports refering to brutal murders commited by youth who were high or drunk
  • Continuous moral panics about youths: teen pregnancy, binge drinking, hoodies, gun crimes, knife crime, addiction

Mazzarella and Pecara:

  • Half of the articles about teenage girls were concerned with the intervention and prevention of problems such as teenage pregnancy and binge drinking
  • 20% of the stories had quotes from teenage girls as opposed to 'experts' giving their views and offering solutions.
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