Friday, 27 May 2011

Collective Identity Exam questions

As we saw on Sunday, these are the previous questions set for this topic:

Analyse the ways in which the media represent any one group of people that you have studied.
With reference to any one group of people that you have studied, discuss how their identity has been ‘mediated’.
Analyse the ways in which the media represent groups of people.
“The media do not construct collective identity; they merely reflect it”. Discuss.
“Media representations are complex, not simple and straightforward”. How far do you agree with this statement in relation to any one group of people that you have studied?
What is collective identity and how is it mediated?

So as you will notice, the questions may focus on how representations are constructed (or how the media mediate representation/identity) but you also need to consider how people read or make sense of those representations and how groups of people might construct their own identity (e.g. online through social media). The last two questions above essentially cover the same territory, but ask you to reflect upon it in a slightly different way- a quote in a question usually means here is something you can argue with- and you should. I would argue that the media never simply 'reflect' reality but construct a representation of it, so there would be something to really get your teeth into! And a look at contrasting representations of a particular group would allow you to explore the complexity, as indicated in the last question.

If we look at the bullet points in the Specification, which defines what should be studied, we should be able to relate them to the questions set so far:

• How do the contemporary media represent nations, regions and ethnic / social / collective groups of people in different ways?
• How does contemporary representation compare to previous time periods?
• What are the social implications of different media representations of groups of people?
• To what extent is human identity increasingly ‘mediated’?

The kinds of thing you might use as case studies include:

national cinema,
television representations,
magazines and gender,
representations of youth and youth culture,
representations of different ethnic and cultural groups
sexuality, gender, disability

It is pretty open in terms of what you might have studied, so I would expect answers to draw upon very different case study material.

This part of the exam asks you to do three more specific things, whatever topic you answer on:

1. You MUST refer to at least TWO different media
2. You MUST refer to past, present and future (with the emphasis on the present- contemporary examples from the past five years)
3. refer to critical/theoretical positions

So for 1. you might compare and contrast examples from film and TV or from newspapers and social media.

For 2. the main thing is to ensure you have a majority of material from the past five years. There were a number of answers last year which were dominated by older films, so beware of this!

For 3. you need some critics/writers who have developed ideas about representation and identity. In previous posts on this topic, I referred to several useful theorists in relation to youth as a case study. Have a look at those posts as you should find plenty of use!

You can't cover everything in this exam, as you only have an hour, so you need to be selective and very systematic in your answer. Have case study examples which really illustrate the kinds of points you want to make.

The ultimate best link for this topic is Dave's Collective identity Blog, which is terrific for a case study of Youth.

Tomorrow: Media in the online Age

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