Unit 1 Media


Types of Representation


  • Masculinity and feminitiy are culturally determined behaviours associated with being male or female.
  • Male characteristics are often portrayed as better than female ones
  • Women are often sexualised
  • These assumptions are often challenged

Social Groups

  • Class deceptions focus on power and hierarchy
  • Media often encourages the audience to aspire to a wealthy, upper/middle class lifestyle by working hard, ignoring the causes of poverty and inequality
  • Social groups can also cover people with a common interest ir sutyatuib sucg as farthers, unemployed people and cyclists.
1 of 29

Types of Representation


  • Age related stereotypes are common - young or old
  • Teenagers are often depicted as thoughtless abd antisocial
  • Elderly often depicted as vulnerable and victims
  • The age of models or actors in advertising and music videos usually reflects that of the target audience


  • Our understanding of ethnicities is often formed by the media
  • Overt racism is rare in mainstream media, non-white people remain under represented
  • Stereotypes and negative portrayals are common


  • Locations can be presented as dangerous or welcoming, simplifying the more complicated reality
2 of 29

Types of Representation

How can people be represented?

  • What they look like - ethnicity, dress, age, attractivness, visible diabilities
  • How they sound - accent, choice of words, use of language, volume of speech, speed of dialogue
  • How they behave - naturally, predictably, empathetically - or not
  • Using visual effecrs - camera angles, length of shots, editing and lighting
3 of 29

Types of Representation

Analysis Media Representations - ask yourself these questions

  • what is being represented
  • how is it represented
  • what sense o the world is it making
  • what does it imply
  • is it made to seem typical of the world or unnatural
  • is anything missing or put in the background
  • who produced it
  • who is it speaking to
  • what does it represent to us and why
  • how do we respond to the representation
  • how is it different from other representation
4 of 29

Constructing Representations: Film and TV

Film and TV are the media that provides the most vivid and in depth representations. However as with all media products the creators have made choices about what to include and how to represent it.

How Do Moving Image Media Construct Representations?

  • Portrayal Of People -  stereotyping, gender, class, ethnicity, attractivness, behaviour, speech, body language
  • Portrayal Of Places - internal, external, locations, positive, negative
  • Ideas - reinforcing or questioning a dominant ideology
  • Sound - music, sound effects, dialogue
  • Camera Work - framing, camera angles, camera movement
  • Lighting - high/low key, colour, filters, direction, shadows
  • Design - mise-en-scene, costumes, props, colour
  • Script - how people interact, what they say
  • Editing - narrative, image editing techniques, transitions, visual effects
5 of 29

Constructing Representations : Film and TV

Where You Watch & How it influences attitude and ability to receive messages

  • Cinema -Made effort to go and see the film so want it to be worthwhile
  • Online -May have received a particular clip that someone else enjoyed or may have searched for a particular clip
  • On a Phone-May watch the clip on the move, screen too small to show a lot of detail.
  • On TV-Whether or not you have chosen what is on TV you are in a comfortable and private environment
  • Public screens-You cannot choose the content – playing automatically whether you want to see it or not
6 of 29

Constructing Representations: Advertising

Advertisments are a type of text that can be read for meaning like a book or website. They are intended to persuade you to buy a product/service, to change behaviour or to inform.

Where will you be exposed to advertising?

  • Print media
  • Billboards
  • Websites
  • Social media
  • Emails
  • Advertorials
  • TV/Cinema
  • Apps
  • Radio
  • Post
  • Public transport
  • Merchendise
7 of 29

Constructing Representations: Advertising

Conventions Of Visual Adverts

  • Brand logo and colour sceme
  • Slogan
  • Aim to be striking or memorable
  • More emphesis on images than words
  • Reliance on symbols and stereotypes

Crossover of TV adverts with Film and TV

  • TV ads often use conventions of film/TV compressed into shorter time frame
  • They use mise-en-scene - costume, lighting, sound, camera angles and editing
  • They may have a plot, characters and a resolution
  • The brand or product may not be clear until the end enabling the audience to watch the advert as entertainment
  • They may be part of a series, building up familiarity over time.
8 of 29

Constructing Representations: Advertising

How To Read An Advert

  • How do words, images and/or sound work together to communicate a message?
  • What is the purpouse of this advertisment?
  • How does it fulfil this purpouse?
  • What conventions does it use?
  • What opinions does it make you form?
  • Are these opinions the same as the ones intended by the advertiser?
9 of 29

Constructing Representations: Games

Computer / video games and mobile apps are interactive media immersing players into the games world and giving the impression that the players control the outcome.

How Games Developments Might Influence Representation:

  • Social Interaction - some games have in-build social sharing and multiplayer features, making them a shared cultural experience. Players meet online in forums and via social media where players can discuss and modify their gameplay methods and reactions
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality - superimposing computer-generated sound, video, graphics or GPS data on to a real world environment blurs the boundaries between real and game
  • Blurring Boundaries - mobile gaming exposes player to multiple messages in other media (e.g advertising) together offering millions of interpretations. Pervasive games influence the lives of the players for example by encouraging them to impose gender limiting values on women.
  • Realistic Graphics - on all platforms, graphics that closely resemble film add to players' sense of the games reality, increasing engagement and immersion
  • Players As Developers - Players can construct their own levels and some kickstarter projects enable players to help create the game taking over control of certain representations
10 of 29

Constructing Representations: Games

How Games Developments Might Influence Representation. (cont)

  • Players As Viewers - gameplay can now be easily recorded and shared via channels like twitch. These videos are watched, removing the interactive element and ability of players to control the gameplay.
  • Embedded Advertising - mobile apps provide more opportunity for audiences to be exposed to media controlled reoresebtatuib if vrabds, encouraging players to see them as desierable.

Propp's Morphology of the Folktale:

  • Most stories in western culture share a limited range of narrative and character types
  • Narrative types - quest, epic, saga, romance
  • Episode types - challenges, obsticles, rewards
  • Character types - hero, false hero, villain, donor, princess, farther figure, helper, dispatcher
  • Adventure games tend to be formulaic, fulfilling thse types
  • Players understand and play the game based on previous experience of these types
11 of 29

Constructing Representations: Games

Video games often feature none interactive scenes, shot and edited like film to progress the story or introduce new elements of gameplay. Some people think this changes the player into a passive recipient of the game makers intended meaning rarger than the players controlling the meaning.            

Stereotypical Game Players

Young heterosexual white males But

Studies show women make up 50% of game players

Gaming is popular in countries such as South Korea and Japan  BUT

Older people are playing more games especially on mobile devices.

Game developers are often young white heterosexual white males who create the sort of games they like to play. SO

Almost all lead characters in gaming are white,Games often reflect and reinforce values of white male dominated society

12 of 29

Constructing Representations: Music Videos

Common Conventions of Music Videos

  • Pop - attractive singers and dancers, colourful and sometimes revealing costumes, in studio or farmiliar setting, dance routine and eye contact with camera
  • Indie/folk - focus on artists performance, understated costumes, shows band playing instruments, simple low budget feel, in countryside, street or warehouse
  • Rock - focus on artists, often performance based focusing on singer, alternative/leather costumes, low key lighting, on stage or in unusual settings
  • R&B - sexualised images, such as ******* men, colourful costumes, symbols of wealth such as gold jewellery, cars at studio, nightclub or house party

When analysing representations in a music video, consider:

  • how the artitst is being represented
  • how others are represented
  • how the song is being promoted
  • how the audience is expected to feel about what they see and hear
13 of 29

Constructing Representations: Music Videos

Narrative Linear - Video tells a story from start to end (cause and effect) that may or may not be related to the songs lyrics and may not feature the artist. 

Effect - Emotionally engages viewer in the story, song becomes associated with the story and feelings it provokes

Narrative Fragmented - Video tells a story in paers or not in chronological order. May include clips from a film the song is promoting.

Effect - Viewer becomes interested in story and wants to find out more or watch the film. 

Performance - The band or singer is shown preparing for and/or performing on stage or in the studio. May be dancers.

Effect - Represents band or singer as an authentic popular, talented musician. Also suggests that their live shows are worth attending

14 of 29

Constructing Representations: Music Videos

Mixed - Narrative video frequently cuts to artist performing song

Effect - By being reminded that the narrative is inspired by the song, viewers are expected to respond to the video as entertainment rather than a representation of reality.

Cameo - Artist features in the narrative but does not perform or participate in the story.

Effect - The artist is presented as separate from the music and images

Animation - Cartoon, stop-motion or computer-generated images are used instead of live action. The artist may not appear

Effect - Video may be more memorable than live-action ones. May showcase latest technology, suggesting artist is cutting edge. 

15 of 29

Constructing Representations: Magazines

How Do Magazines Construct Representations?

  • Portrayal of People - such as stereotyping, gender, class, ethnicity, attractivness, behaviour, speech, body language
  • Advertising - such as appeal to readers, alignment with content
  • Content - such as subject matter, tone of voice (authoritative, fun, persuasive)
  • Design and Page Layout - such as font, hierarchy of type, typeography, white space
  • Page Composition - such as consistency, visual hierarchy
  • Photographs and Images - such as content, camera angle, setting, cropping
  • Portrayal of Readers/Target Audience - such as readers letters, competitions, usng their content
  • Ideas - such as reinforcing or questioning dominant ideology
  • Portrayal of Places - such as internal/external, locations, positive/negative
16 of 29

Constructing Representations: Magazines

Printed Magazine: Key Points :

  • Magazines are designed to be dipped in and out of rather than read from cover to cover, so should catch readers attention
  • They are disposable, not intended to be kept on a shelf like a book
  • Buying a magazine is buying part of a brand, after reading one or two, you know what to expect and weather it appeals to you
  • Advertisments market products as you read
17 of 29


Hall - representayion is the production of meaning through language. (spoken language or visual language) This language is formed by signs which we must agree on and share as a culture to convey and understand a message.

  • Hall - reality exists outside language but is constantly mediated by and through language.
  • Objects characters and events on screen or in print dont have to be universal true meanings but are mediated through the perspective of the person making the media.
  • They choose what to show us so their social and personal biases affect the fact, through what is shown an how it is shown
  • The media presents a new reality abd we nat decode the media in the way we're intended to or in another way.
18 of 29


The Constructionist View

  • The Real World - Events, People, Things
  • Concepts: The Signified
  • Language: The Signifier
  • Interpretation: Influenced by - The thing itself, the people doing the representation, the reaction of the viewer to the representation, the context of society.

Questions To Ask When Analysing Media Representations

  • What signs are used to convey the message
  • What truth or reality is represented
  • What meaning is produced
  • How is this meaning produced
  • Are any other meanings possible
  • Who constructed the representation
  • Why did they construct the representation
  • How can the viewer challenge the representation
19 of 29


What Did Dyer Say About Stereotypes.

  • Those with power stereotype the less powerful
  • Stereotyping exxagerates differences which may create conflict between groups
  • The media may not invent stereotypes but reinforce them by repeated stereotypical representations
  • Stereotyping is a way of imposing order on diversity by over simplifying behaviours and traits
  • Stereotypes are a way of quickly converying information about a group or character
  • Selecting certain values and assumptions may help to construct the audience's perceptions of the world
  • Identities can be constructed and communicated via stereotypes

Stereotypes are about power - media stereotypes of non-white racial groups, women, gay people and working class people are often easier to identify than sterotpes of while middle class heterosexual men. Stereotypical representations categprise different groups and place them in a hierarchy with the most powerful at the top.

20 of 29

Audience Positioning

Mulvey argues that audiences, male and female have to view women from the vantage point of a heterosexual male. (the male gaze)

Key differences in roles of men and women in film:

Women - passive, looked at, in need of protection, sexually submissive

Men - active, looking, protectors, sexually dominant

Voyeurism - gratification from observing or seeing others, especially when they are not aware of being watched. A controlling gaze that projects ones own fantasies onto those being watched

Scopophilia - Deriving sexual pleasure from looking often at ****** images

Fetishism - Fixating on the object of the gaze to it less threatening to the viewer by dehumanising it and transforming it into something satisfying in itself. (e.g. a sexual object)

Narcissism - Recognising ones self in the image of another person being viewed

21 of 29

Audience Positioning

The Male Gaze cont.

Mulvey wrote about the male gaze in 1975 about films in thr 40's and 50's

22 of 29

Audience Positioning

The Male Gaze cont.

Mulvey wrote about the male gaze in 1975 about films in thr 40's and 50's but visual media still incorporate the male gaze. Films, adverts, music videos etc often objectify women.

The gaze can however be from other persectives, such as white americans or gay women. The gaze sets out alienate the audiene prehaps by shocking them with a different perspective but this is uncommon.

23 of 29

How Media Products Construct Messages and Values

Media messages arent a mirror of reality, the creator and audience construct the medianing of the product through different processes.

Key Terms

  • Construction - the process of making conscious and subconsious decisions when selecting and receiving the content of a media product. E.G. Newspaper photos, chosen from hundreds of alteratives, audiences choose what to see and rememeber
  • Anchorage -Directing the audience towards a desierd outcome by attatching a meaning to something with many interpretations. E.G. Adding a caption, cropping a photo, including certain music or a specific camera angle
  • Presence - Including certain elements in a media product, either deliberatly or not. E.G. TV news channels selecting one news story over another, photographers including only women in images of nurses.
  • Absence - Not including certain elements in certain media products, either deliberatly or not. E.G. V new channels not selecting a particular news story, photographers excluding men from images of nurses.
24 of 29

How Media Products Construct Messages and Values

Key Terms cont.

  • Encoding - The process of construcying meaning when producing a message. E.G. Taking a photo, filming, speaking and gesturing
  • Decoding - The process of contructing meaning to understand a message. E.G. looking, watching, listening, deciphering a gesture.

Encoding and Decoding Models

Schramms model showed communication is dynamic and potentially unreliable. Halls model added noise the cultural and physical context of the sender and influences like the education, gender, ethics and role in society of the reciepents. The meaning of the message isnt determined by the sender.

25 of 29

Audeince Decoding and Reading

Halls Model of Mass Communication.

1. The same event can be encoded in more than one way

2. The message can be decoded in more than one way

3. Understanding the message can be a problematic process

Halls Categories Of Reading

Preffered (dominant or hegemonic reading) - The decoder uncritically accepts and shares the meaning intended (consiously or subconsciously) by the producer. They respond in the way the producer expects them to and confirm the social order.

Negotiated Reading - The decoder partly accepts the preffered reading but also resists or modifies it to fit their own viewpoint.

Oppositional Reading - The decoder may understand teh preferred meaning but rejects it because their social position puts them in conflict with the preferred meaning.

26 of 29

Audience Decoding and Reading

Aberrant Reading - the decoder creates theur own interpretation that is entirely different to the intended meaning such as a parody.

Open and Closed Texts - Barthes and Eco

  • No texts are entierly open or closed. Barthes said texts are a tangle of threads that need to be unravelled. Different meanigns appear as they are unravelled.
  • However some texts need to restrict their meaning such as intsuctions or directions.
  • Open Text - many different meanis possible
  • Closed Text - A single meaning is intended
  • Open Text - Decoder takes active role
  • Closed Text - Decoder takes passive role
  • Open Text - Ysyakkt aesthetic or artistic
  • Closed Text - Usually informational
  • Open Text - e.g poem, abstract art, experimental film
  • Closed Text - e.g. textbook, recipe, part political broadcast, tv advert, action film
27 of 29

Passive and Active Viewing and Intertextualtity

The Active Audience - The audience takes an active role in choosing and interpreting media

The Uses and Gratificatiobs Model (1970s)

  • Personal Relationships - Social Interaction, something to talk about, affiliation/avoidance
  • Surveillance - Problem solving, education
  • Personal Identity - Self-understanding, comparison with others, forming opinions, influencing behaviour, social learning.
  • Diversion - Entertainment, esacpe, passing time, habit, background noise,

The Hypodermic Model (1930s)

  • We accept messages injected to us by the media
  • WE passively receive a world view. We accept a representation instead of reality
  • WE all react in the same way
  • Seen as generally outdated because we may have oppositional reading
28 of 29

Passive and Active Viewing and Intertextualtity

Are Audiences As Active As They ThinkThey Are?

  • the audience may not influence the media on offer
  • even active audiences are influenced by dominant cultural assumptions
  • media such as advertising create needs as well as fulfilling existing ones
  • the internet and social media mean media choices can be recived simultaneously. Does this make the audience more or less active?

Intertextuality Key Points

  • All media products are influenced by others
  • Some refer directly to eachother, such as film remakes and parodies of well known scenes or images
  • How we interpret intertextuality depends on our awareness of what is being referenced. We create meaning by recognising it. (or not)
  • Obvious intertextuality reminds us that we are viewing a mediated reality
  • The meaning of the original text is itself changed by being reused or referenced in another text
29 of 29





Similar Media Studies resources:

See all Media Studies resources »See all unit 1 resources »