Academic journal article The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Ideological Contestation(s): The "Televised" Cultural Politics of Gendered Identity

Academic journal article The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Ideological Contestation(s): The "Televised" Cultural Politics of Gendered Identity

Article excerpt

The development of mass communication greatly expands the scope for the operation of ideology in modern [and traditional] societies, for it enables symbolic forms to be transmitted to extended and potentially vast audiences which are dispersed in time and space (Thompson, 1990, p. 266).


The concept of identity is always multifaceted: what is identity; how it is shaped; who identifies who, and why? One of the ways to understand this complex phenomenon various scholars have demonstrated a close connection between identity, ideology, and culture (Bailey and Gayle, 2003; Bucholtz & Hall, 2006; Cooper & Brubaker, 2005; Hall 2011; Holland et el, 1996; Riley, 2007). Following Althusser (1971) who believes that media is an active part of the ideological state apparatus (ISA), I demonstrate that media, an ISA shapes opinions through employing ideology which tacitly interpellates individuals (read audience/viewers) in a particular way in a given cultural context.In this paper I discuss that television defines a gendered viewer-identity by interpellatingsubjects according to culture, space, age, and academic exposure.Thus, television, the conduit of ideology, shapes gendered identities through consent as opposed to coercion. Furthermore, I establishthat in traditional societies, like the Pakhtuns, culture comes forth as the most dominating ISA, yet the television has a strong role in shaping thoughts and actions. In order to prove my stance I analyze interview excerpts of various research respondents in Peshawar, villages Matti, Karak, and Azmerabad1, Charsadda.

In Pakistan media is used in almost all its forms: printed and electronic. A vast number of newspapers and magazines are regularly published in Pakistan. Print media includes the dailies, the popular magazines, and some alternate press like jihadist newspapers as well. Most publications tend to be in the national language Urdu, followed by a few in English, and fewer more in the regional languages. In spite of the fact that the print media has been a part of the infotainment culture in Pakistan before the advent of electronic media yet the internet, cell phones, television, radio, the satellite dish and cable channels are more popular among the people. One of the reasons for the popularity of the electronic media, especially television, can be the lack of education and easy access to the medium. Thompson (1990) rightly states:

But it is important to stress that, compared to other forms of mass communication such as books, newspapers, and magazines, the messages transmitted by electronic media like television are in principle accessible to, and are typically received by, a larger and broader audience.... [Because] the television set is commonly a domestic appliance which occupies a central position in the home, and which is a focal point around which much social interaction takes place. [And] the fact that the skills required to decode the messages received via television are often less sophisticated, and involve less specialized training, than those required to decode messages transmitted by other media such as printed matter (p. 267).

As such, most of my respondents at all the field sites thought that media in general and television in particular has affected people in one or another way.

Field Sites, Respondents, and Methodology

I conducted fieldwork at three sites in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. My field sites for this research include Peshawar, the provincial capital, the administrative and urban center. I also conducted research in village Azmerabad, Charsadda, which is one of the major agricultural districts of KP and is about 17 miles northeast of Peshawar. And my third field site is the village, Matti, Karak, which is one of the arid districts of KP, and lies approximately 110 miles southeast of Peshawar.

My respondents at all field sites include both men and women between th e ages of 25-70 years. …

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