Media studies

6th June 2003 at 01:00
It's not just scientists who are misrepresented in the media - it's almost any occupational group. Soap operas, in particular, make very subtle use of job-related stereotypes as short-cuts to effective characterisation.

Focus on one soap, list the main characters' occupations, and discuss.

Does your list credibly reflect the range and balance of occupations you might find within the soap's community? How accurately is the content of a job depicted? (Ricky Butcher does some very unlikely things with spanners.) Does it matter?

Are the stereotypes associated with the job in fact more important than the jobs themselves? Ken Barlow is a retired teacher - what shared assumptions does that invoke?

Ask students to find examples of work-related stereotyping in another television programme - police dramas are ideal - and explain their contribution to characterisation.

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