The Relevance of Cultural Identity: Relying upon Foundations of Race and Gender as Laypeople Plan a Newscast

By Lind, Rebecca Ann | Journalism and Communication Monographs, Autumn 2001 | Go to article overview

The Relevance of Cultural Identity: Relying upon Foundations of Race and Gender as Laypeople Plan a Newscast


Lind, Rebecca Ann, Journalism and Communication Monographs


Abstract

This study placed eighteen groups of African-, European-, and Latin-Americans (divided by race and gender) into the role of news producers; each peer group was charged with planning a hypothetical TV newscast from a list of realistic stories. The study investigates the relevance of cultural identity as these groups went about their task, and found clear differences in the extent to which cultural identity was articulated, the type of identity considered (race, gender, religion), whether the focus was on the ingroup or outgroup, and whether the references were affirmatively or negatively valenced. The study also compares the content different cultural groups included in the newscasts. Assuming that a context can function actively to "weave together" (rather than the more passive conceptualization of context as that which surrounds), this research concludes that discourses of separateness, of narrowly defined identity, and of inequality were common; the context enacted by participants revealed a strained, uneven social fabric.

Since the early 1980s, when Stuart Hall (1980) theorized the processes of encoding and decoding, and David Morley (1980) began empirical examination of the encoding/decoding model, scholars have investigated the variety of social forces that help construct audiences' readings of mediated texts. Now classic research such as that conducted by Ang (1985); Hobson (1982); Liebes (1988); Liebes & Katz (1990); and Radway (1984), as well as more recent analyses and anthologies (Gillespie, 1995; Livingstone & Lunt, 1994; Morley, 1992; Seiter, Borchers, Kreutzner, & Warth, 1989), have contributed to an understanding that the interpretation of media content is not based on simple demographic variables. Instead, as the present monograph argues, social positions structure and restrict access to various codes and discourses; hence identification with a cultural subgroup and the concept of relevancy are both major factors in determining how a text will be read (or whether it will be approached). As Money (1985, p. 239) wrote, "The meaning of the text will be constructed differently according to the discourses (knowledges, prejudices, resistances, etc.) brought to bear by the reader, and the crucial factor in the encounter of audience/subject and text will be the range of discourses at the disposal of the audience."

Cohen's (1991) presentation of relevancy nicely articulated the interrelationship of text and audience in the creation of meaning. Playing on Katz & Foulkes' (1962, p. 378) description of the fully audience-centered uses and gratifications tradition (which asks "not `What do the media do to people?' but `What do people do with the media?"'), Cohen asserted that "the concept of relevancy does not separate what the text does to viewers from what viewers do to the text" (1991, p. 453). Fiske (1989; 1988; 1987) further argued that when considering relevance, the audience (members of which are socially and historically constructed subjects) precedes the text. Fiske's position was that various - but not limitless - meanings can be made from the text. The possible range of interpretations is bounded because "the viewer makes meanings and pleasures from television that are relevant to his or her social allegiances at the moment of viewing; the criteria for relevance precede the viewing moment" (1988, p. 247).

Though bounded, the range of possible interpretations of media content is sufficiently broad to have encouraged scholars, including Morley (1986), to conclude that the notion of classifying audience interpretations of television texts as representing preferred, negotiated, or oppositional meanings (Hall, 1980) should be revisited. Money (1986, p. 45) underscored the importance of the relevancy concept when he suggested that "we need to deal more with the relevance/irrelevance and comprehension/incomprehension dimensions of interpretation and decoding, rather than being directly concerned with the acceptance or rejection of particular substantive ideological theses or propositions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Relevance of Cultural Identity: Relying upon Foundations of Race and Gender as Laypeople Plan a Newscast
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.