Ethnic Minorities and the Media: Changing Cultural Boundaries

By Simon Cottle | Go to book overview

12
MEDIA AND TUE PUBLIC SPHERE
IN MULTI-ETHNIC SOCIETIES

Charles Husband


Introduction

In the late twentieth century there is no need to argue that the mass media are an important facet of our social world. Entertainment media are not allowed to be innocent forms of relaxation; but, whether soap opera or Disney cartoon, their ideological content and potential for shaping beliefs, values and identities is open to scrutiny. News is equally a target of heated analysis as its ability to frame the events in our world and reflect partisan interests is studied and contested. We have several decades now of cumulative, and increasingly sophisticated, research examining the media’s ‘representation’ of the world to us. Many of the authors in this book have made significant contributions to this process. Nor has this analysis been narrowly focused upon imagery and language but it has also placed the content of media within a broader framework which has sought to make explicit the process of media production and the economic logic of media industries. This political economy of the media and related accounts of the professional networks and interests that shape the media we routinely encounter is essential to an adequate understanding of ‘race’, racism and the media. And since the early 1990s the available literature which addresses this theme has become increasingly visible across the world (see, for example, Riggins 1992; Jakubowicz et al. 1994; Husband 1996; Gandy 1998).

The intention of this chapter is to step back from an immediate concern with exploring how the media construct images of majority and minority ethnic identity, and how these may impact upon the audience. Rather the aim here will be to ask some questions about what functions we expect the

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