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Delivery guides are designed to represent a body of knowledge about teaching a particular topic and contain:
- Content: a clear outline of the content covered by the delivery guide;
- Thinking Conceptually: expert guidance on the key concepts involved, common difficulties learners may have, approaches to teaching that can help learners understand these concepts and how this topic links conceptually to other areas of the subject;
- Thinking Contextually: a range of suggested teaching activities using a variety of themes so that different activities can be selected that best suit particular classes, learning styles or teaching approaches.
This option focuses on how different social groups are represented in the media, and how the media affects audiences. It is therefore important that learners are given the opportunity to research the way in which the media portrays various ethnic groups, genders and social classes, and how these representations may have changed over time. Learners should also focus on consensus versus conflict perspectives in terms of explaining these representations, as well as the ability of the media to reinforce social order and control. Furthermore, learners ought to explore postmodernist critiques of the other theoretical perspectives.
Additionally, learners should develop an understanding of theoretical views on media effects. Learners ought to explore theoretical models such as hypodermic syringe, two-step flow, cultural effects, and uses and gratifications. This will enable learners to evaluate the extent to which media audiences experience direct and/or indirect effects, or whether they are active participants. Finally, it is necessary that learners understand the potential of the media to amplify deviancy and create moral panics, perhaps through consideration of a classic case study of moral panics.
Key concepts and approaches to teaching to help learners to understand these concepts
This topic enables learners to develop their conceptual awareness of core themes such as socialisation, social control, culture and identity. Specifically, learners will be introduced to the concepts of media representations, deviance amplification, moral panics and media effects. After a consideration of the ways in which the media has shaped their own impressions of social groups, it would be appropriate for learners to conduct their own sociological research in order to build their knowledge and understanding of the concepts. One such task could be to undertake a content analysis of one form of media to examine how women, for example, are represented. Similarly, once learners have developed knowledge of sociological theories, they could deepen their understanding by carrying out role plays, or by writing an ‘agony aunt’ style letter from a given perspective. In essence, a skills-based, active-learning approach seems to be suitable for the sociological study of media.
Common misconceptions or difficulties learners may have
For many learners, this is the first time they will have studied sociological theory. Therefore it is suggested that learners study the key ideas of each theory before they try to apply the theoretical perspectives to assessing media representations.
Furthermore, it is advisable to discuss with the learners the sheer scale and variety of media – most will be highly familiar with some forms of media, so will need to learn to ‘step back’ and use sociological imagination to view the media critically rather than see its representations/effects as inevitable.
Conceptual links to other areas of the specification – useful ways to approach this topic to set learners up for topics later in the course
Learners will already have covered an introduction to concepts such as socialisation, culture, subculture, identity (ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, social class), and social control in section A of Component 01. Therefore this topic provides a prime opportunity to reinforce these topics. Additionally, this topic will provide the foundations for future sections of the specification, such as content analysis, which is necessary for ‘Research Methods and Researching Social Inequalities’ (Component 02). This suggests that it is beneficial to include some initial methodological evaluative points, using concepts like ‘representativeness’ and ‘validity’. Furthermore, later topics will consolidate the theoretical perspectives (e.g. Marxism and feminism), as well as social groups such as class, ethnicity, gender and age in ‘Understanding Social Inequalities’ (Component 02) and in the Component 03 options of ‘Crime and Deviance’, ‘Education’ and ‘Religion, Belief and Faith’.
1. How are different social groups represented in the media?
Learners could grasp opportunities to use contemporary news articles to exemplify how different social groups are represented in the media. For example, media coverage of political and social concern regarding immigration and terrorism to demonstrate representations of ethnic groups. This could include the negative connotations attached to Eastern European migrants and North African asylum-seekers by some media outlets, as well as the contribution of the media to Islamophobia. However, learners ought to be encouraged to consider a wide range of media contexts, not just the news. For the study of how the media differentiates between young and old, or feminine and masculine for example, it would be interesting for learners to undertake a comparison of cartoons, documentaries, billboard advertising and other types of media. In addition, a historical context ought to be studied, with learners developing an understanding of how the media represented social groups in the past and how this has changed.
2. What effect do the media have on audiences?
In terms of evaluating media effects theories, classic case studies of moral panics (such as Cohen’s Mods and Rockers) as well more recent examples like the association of horror films with the murder of James Bulger could be used. Additionally reference could be made to social networking and blogging as forms of audience participation, and learners could research which ‘box sets’ have been successful and which failed in order to evaluate audience effects on the media.
Starter activity to introduce how the media affects our perceptions
Display the following questions on the whiteboard:
1) What % of the population is Muslim?
2) What % of the population are immigrants?
3) What % of social security is claimed fraudulently?
4) What % of social security goes to the unemployed?
5) More taxpayers’ money is spent on Jobseekers Allowance than pensions: true or false?
Learners can either use mini-whiteboards to hold up their answers, or simply write them down and then feedback verbally at the end.
Compare guesses to the reality by looking at the infographic media control link.
This could work as a large display activity or learners could produce smaller, individual versions.
Allocate learners a social group e.g. a social class, an ethnic group, a gender or a British nationality.
Learners use newspapers, magazines, leaflets, and internet searches to find images and key words that are commonly used in the media to represent that social group.
Learners then arrange these onto a collage, and write a 200 word summary of the findings, conclusion and evaluation.
Provide each group with a pack of images (see Learner resource 1) of women aged 20–30 from various points over the last century or so.
Learners try to arrange the images into a timeline, first putting them in order of oldest to most recent, then trying to estimate the decade that each image is from.
Learners could do this by placing or sticking the images on to A3 paper, then annotating around them.
The task could be differentiated by providing low ability learners with fewer images, or with extra cards with the decades printed on, so it becomes more of a card-sort activity.
Each group should then draw up a table summarising the similarities and differences in how the ways femininity has been portrayed in the media over time.
Extension: learners to discuss how feminists and postmodernists would explain why these changes have happened, and whether they are positive or negative changes.
Learners will need a broadsheet newspaper, a tabloid, a women’s magazine and a men’s magazine.
Each group should be allocated one ethnicity to conduct a content analysis on. This task can be differentiated by allowing more able learners to construct their own categories, whereas other learners can be supported by being providing with a readymade tally chart (an example of a tally chart for this activity is provided).
Once learners have looked through the media resources and completed their content analysis, they should condense their results into a conclusion of 3–5 bullet points. This could then be presented to the whole class, with all learners completing a summary sheet (see Learner resource 2).
An extension task could see learners evaluating the methodology they used/designed.
Ethnic representations resource consists of:
Sheet 1: content analysis tally sheet
Sheet 2: class feedback table and final conclusions sheet (teacher to collect appropriate forms of printed media).
Learners are given a letter from a parent worried about their 13 year old son watching shows with adult content, such as ‘Breaking Bad’ (see Learner resource 3).
Each small group is allocated a model (hypodermic syringe model, two step flow model, cultural effects model, uses and gratification model), the task is to write a reply explaining how the media might affect the boy in question (according to their allocated model) and provide advice on how the parents should deal with this situation.
All groups should then present their letters to the whole class.
Media effects resource consists of: Task letter from worried parents, media effects models information sheet.
Learners are given sets of concepts (see Learner resource 4). In each set, two of the three concepts have a clear connection to each other, meaning the third one is the odd one out.
Learners are asked to discuss each set of concepts, identify the odd one out, and then be able to justify their decision to the rest of the group.
There aren’t necessarily any wrong answers to this task; the purpose is to encourage learners to give a sociological justification for their decision. However, suggested answers are provided for the teacher.
Odd one out resource consists of: Odd one out sets of concepts and suggested answers.
Learners are to use a textbook or notes from the teacher to read about moral panics and deviancy amplification, with reference to the work of Jock Young and Stanley Cohen.
Teachers may wish to use to use a different source if textbooks are not available, for example the Moral panics link provided.
Learners should first determine definitions of the following concepts: moral panic, deviancy amplification and folk devils.
Next they can choose to either draw out a flowchart (deviancy amplification spiral) or to summarise in no more than 150 words how the media can create moral panics and amplify deviancy.
Finally, learners work in small groups to write four statements about the topic: three true and one false. They present them to the class (perhaps by writing them on mini-whiteboard or in marker pen on A3 paper), and the rest guess which is false.
Cut around the dotted lines of Learner resource 5, to create 26 dominoes.
Each group will need their own set, or the activity can be done as a whole class with each learner holding one card (or more if there are more dominoes than learners), and standing up when they hear the key concept/theory that is being defined on the left hand side of their own card.
They then read out their domino, to see who has the definition for the key concept/theory on the right hand side of their card.
Continue until all dominoes have been used.
The dominoes are in the correct order on the resource. Therefore, the bottom right domino (‘media representations’) will link to the definition on the top left domino.
Dominoes resource consists of: Dominoes and answer sheet.
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Learner Resource 1 and Teacher Answers Activity 3 from top left: Woman at the window, with her prized Aspidistra by whatsthatpicture from Hanwell, London, UK [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; Vintage photo of a Woman Wearing Flapper Costume With Pearls © chippix/Shutterstock; Munitions worker by Alfred T. Palmer, U.S. Office of War Information [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; Mom Opening Cupboard - Retro Clip Art © RetroClipArt/Shutterstock; Ford Women, courtesy of Mirrorpix, used with permission; She’s looking sassy! – 1970s style model © Yuri_Arcurs/istockphoto; 1980s Style, Fashion, women, telephone, business © Lise Gagne/istockphoto; Booty dancer posing on studio background © ayakovlevcom/Shutterstock.