Victims, villains or organized community? : discrimination, social exclusion and empowerment in the media representation of urban poverty : case of barrio “El 70” in Venezuelan newspapers
DisciplineKansainvälinen kehitystyö (maisteriohjelma)Master's Degree Programme in Development and International Cooperation
The purpose of this thesis is to study the media representation of urban poverty in a developing country context, focusing specifically on the connections between media representation and social exclusion. The theoretical-methodological basis of this work draws from critical cultural studies and sociological media research, specifically from the theoretical assumptions of critical discourse analysis about media representation. The premise is the constructionist view that the media does not directly reflect the reality of urban poverty, but constructs journalist reproductions of it from a particular perspective and in a certain social context. Media representation of the subordinated groups is related to the prevailing power relations and inequalities in society. The intention is to consider whether the discrimination and exclusion experienced by the urban poor is reproduced in media representations. The theme is approached by exploring how one specific poor urban neighborhood, the barrio “El 70” in Caracas, Venezuela, is represented in Venezuelan newspapers. The data consists of 57 newspaper articles about the barrio “El 70” from the years 2007-2010, of which 42 are collected from one of the largest national newspapers, El Universal, and the rest are collected by a community representative of “El 70” from different national and regional newspapers. The data is first described and classified through the means of content analysis. The principal analysis is conducted with the tools of critical discourse analysis, particularly those defined by Norman Fairclough. The analysis consists of power-focused textual analysis of the articles completed by socio-cultural interpretation of the results in the context of the case community and in the wider context of Venezuelan society. The aim is to study not only what kinds of representations are constructed of the case community and whether these are discriminatory, but also the potential effects of these representations and the possibilities of challenging them. The case community and its inhabitants are represented mostly through negative and stereotypical discourses that reduce them to their disadvantages, defined by insecurity, social exclusion and deficient living conditions. However, a strong positive discourse was also found related to organization and empowerment of the urban poor. Pieces of other counter-discourses challenging the negative representations were also identified. These varied representations reflect the prevailing power relations, but also the changes that have occurred in Venezuelan society during the last decade. ...
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