Write a 3–5-page essay analyzing from a sociological perspective a chosen diversity issue covered in the media.
By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:
- Competency 1: Describe theoretical ideas of power in relation to policy.
- Discuss how minority and dominant groups are portrayed in a media piece in relation to the influence of power.
- Discuss sociological concepts or theories appropriate for understanding the portrayal of diversity in the media.
- Competency 2: Identify historical and contemporary influences of discrimination in U. S. culture.
- Summarize a media piece using the sociological perspective on diversity.
- Competency 3: Analyze the effects of social policy using aggregated data.
- Analyze data that are appropriate for supporting or refuting the central tenets of media piece.
- Competency 6: Apply in text the standard writing conventions for the discipline, including structure, voice, person, tone, and citation formatting.
- Write coherently to support a central idea in appropriate format and with few errors of grammar, usage, and mechanics.
How are different social groups portrayed in the mass media in contemporary society? How far have we come in terms of reducing or eliminating stereotypical images and portrayals of minority groups? To answer these questions, we need to place them in the context of the economic, technological, and social changes that have shaped postindustrial U.S. society and affected relationships between diverse groups in our society. For example, watching TV sitcoms and dramas today we see not only much greater diversity in cast members but also minority group members playing leading roles, something that was much less common just a few decades ago.
As you analyze how the various media forms portray cultural diversity, another thing to consider is the role of people with power in the media industry—those who make the decisions about what stories and images appear on a TV news program or magazine or newspaper article and how those programs or stories will be framed.
As you prepare to complete this assessment, you may want to think about other related issues to deepen your understanding or broaden your viewpoint. You are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of your professional community. Note that these questions are for your own development and exploration and do not need to be completed or submitted as part of your assessment.
- Some sociologists who study the media argue that the media is a reflection of what is already happening in society, while others contend that the media manipulates its audience by portraying events or issues with a particular slant or goal in mind. What do you think? Does the media reflect what is already going on in society, or does it manipulate viewers to draw conclusions about what is going on? Perhaps a bit of both? Consider the implications in terms of how the media portrays diversity-related issues like racism and sexism.
- Can our interaction with media—movies, TV shows, news and radio programs, and so on—have any influence on our understanding of race, ethnicity, social class, gender, age, religion, et cetera?
- To what extent does the news media create and perpetuate stereotypes about particular groups of people?
For this assessment, you will be doing a content analysis of a specific media program or article. Below are resources that discuss the key elements of an effective content analysis. Below are resources that discuss the key elements of an effective content analysis.
In this assessment, you will have the opportunity to take a deeper look at the connection between the media and the cultural diversity of U.S. society. You will discuss how a current program or article in current news media approaches diversity-related issues and explain how we can use the sociological perspective to better understand both the portrayal of diversity-related issues and the media’s broader role in U.S. society. Effectively evaluating the accuracy of the information provided in your chosen media piece will require some additional research and fact checking, something that sociologists do as well when they are weighing the validity of opposing arguments.
To prepare for this assessment, choose one media program or article that deals with an issue related to one or more forms of diversity, such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, or social class. Examples of acceptable media include a newspaper article, a radio program, a television show, or a movie. Find these via the Capella library or online. Feel free to choose a topic or media source that is either domestic or global in content.
For this assessment:
- Summarize briefly, in one or two paragraphs, the main events or issues presented in your media program or article and describe how they relate to cultural diversity studies.
- Discuss how minority and dominant groups are portrayed in your media selection in relation to the influence of power.
- Consider the relative power of each group portrayed in your selection in society.
- Consider how individuals in power influence decisions regarding how issues are portrayed. This can include corporate executives, lobbyists, special interest groups, or those who own a particular newspaper, channel, or media conglomerate.
- Explain how two or more sociological theories apply to or can be used to provide insight about your media program or article. Examples of theories include:
- Merton’s typology of prejudice and discrimination.
- Noel hypothesis.
- Blauner hypothesis.
- Gordon’s theory of assimilation.
- Human capital theory.
- Theories of inequality (such as Marx’s or Weber’s theories of inequality).
- Collins’ theory of intersectionality.
- Park’s race relations cycle.
- Structural pluralism.
- Analyze data that are appropriate for supporting or refuting the central tenets of your media program or article.
- If data (statistical information) is cited in your media selection, you may go to that source and analyze it yourself; then consult an additional source that supports or refutes the data presented.