- Are critical thinking and democratic decision making related to true freedom?
- How do Sen’s ideas about identity and violence relate to the media experience?
- What does Tim Wise say about the costs of privilege and inequality?
- How does media challenge or reinforce privilege? Challenge or reinforce inequality?
- How does media interact with our cognitive states and selective processes?
Freedom to Think Reading Notes
We should recognize our multiple identities and competing affiliations. A singular human identity attributed to any people “impoverishes the power and reach of our social and political reasoning” (Sen, p.17)
To make sense of identity it is good to avoid these two types of reductionist assumptions common in contemporary social and economic thinking.
Identity disregard of important cultural factors in people’s identity, “without critical reflection on broader evolutionary influences of decisions on identity and behaviorâ€ (Sen).
Singular affiliation, which denies the plural identities and relevant identity importance within each person.
“Ideas of identities and their relationship to violence is closely linked with…multiculturalism.â€ (Sen, p.150) Culture is an essential element of human dignity for each person and it is important to recognize the vast diversity among and within cultures. Reduction or categorization of any culture as a singular characteristic, by religion or ethnicity, denies the true cultural intricacies, dismisses valuable knowledge, and inhibits viable problem solutions to real cultural conflict.
Sen contrasts two different approaches to a multicultural environment.
Multicultural engagement through interaction among different cultures can produce valuable knowledge, familiarity across cultural difference, and help transform cognitive dissonance into cognitive consistency or psychological comfort with cultural difference.
Plural monocultural parallel non-engagement separates and isolates based on cultural differences and can accentuate difference, fear of the unfamiliar, and perpetuate cognitive dissonance or psychological discomfort with cultural difference.
Sen Presents an historical analysis of struggles to make new nations and helps illustrate a clash of conflicting visions between sectarian domination and multicultural community.
“The illusion of singular identity, which serves the violent purpose of those orchestrating . . . confrontations is skillfully cultivated and fomented by the commanders of persecution and carnage” (Sen, p.175).
Are there examples of this evident in recent history? Consider Rwanda, Syria and other areas.
Sen describes a vision of a democratic global state. Our networked planet has infrastructure to facilitate human dialogue among all regions. Are the fruits of such a dialogue evident anywhere?
Sen acknowledges the constructive work for social justice, raising good questions that contribute to public reasoning. Sen argues for a “non-solitarist understanding of human identity” (Sen, p.185), a global identity to enhance but not eliminate other loyalties and identities.
Cognitive Processes & Media
Cognitive Consistencyâ€”Psychological comfort people work to attain or preserve by selection of information consistent with existing views.
Cognitive Dissonanceâ€”Psychological discomfort experienced with exposure to information inconsistent with existing views.
Active audiences use the selective processes of exposure, retention, and perception, characterized by tendencies toward cognitive consistency.
Exposureâ€”we choose media and have tendency toward messages consistent with preexisting attitudes & beliefs.
Retentionâ€”we have tendency to best remember messages most meaningful to us.
Perceptionâ€”our experiences shape our message understanding with tendency to alter meaning to become consistent with preexisting attitudes & beliefs.
Sen, A. (2006). Identity and violence: The illusion of destiny. New York, NY: WW Norton and Company.
Social Identity Theory Reading Notes
Research conducted a two study experimental design using social identity theory framework to examine the â€œinfluence of exposure to positive Latino media exemplars on ingroup (Latino) and outgroup (white) consumers.â€
â€œSocial identity theory posits that a portion of oneâ€™s self-concept is dependent on the importance and relevance placed on the group membership to which the individual belongsâ€ (Turner & Oakes, 1986).
â€œThe theory suggests that individuals drive for positive identity and esteem influences the social comparisons they make (Tajfel & Turner). Consequently differences across groups are highlighted and disparities within categories are trivializedâ€ (McKinely, Mastro, & Warber, p.1050).
Studies on music and sports each pose several hypotheses and found â€œthat both Latinos and whites hold pro ingroup bias that can be activated by media primes involving same race/ethnicity models. Ingroup bias may lead to more favorable judgments of ingroup members, and in the case of Latinos and other minority groups, improved self-concepts.â€ (McKinely, Mastro, & Warber, p.1064).
The authors state the practical implication that â€œIn the era of user generated content, educators must encourage ethnic minorities, such as Latinos to create their own media that presents counter-stereotypical representations of these ethnic groups and further promotes a positive self-concept among other viewers.â€ (McKinely, Mastro, & Warber, p.1064)
McKinley, C. J., Mastro, D., Warber, K. M. (2014). Social identity theory as a framework for understanding the effects of exposure to positive media images of self and others on intergroup outcomes. International Journal of Communications, 8, 1049-1068.
White Like Me Film Notes
Watch White Like Me: Race, Racism and White Privilege in America. (69 minutes).
(Notes are from White Like Me and White Denial and the Costs of Inequality)
Wise illustrates how privilege is often invisible to members of the dominant group.
The Erasure of Race in Politics and Culture
- White Denial
Â· “Whites do not know Black and brown Truth”
Â· Whiteness is the norm, so white privilege remains invisible
- Unburdened by Race
Â· Anxiety comes from negative group stereotype Wise describes “the burden of representation”
Â· In the US since 1987 white people committed 129 confirmed terrorist attacks and 19 Muslims committed one attack on 9/11/01.
- The Creation of Whiteness- Race was used to hide class in early US history.
Â· Privilege is dangerous, though appears to benefit it actually brings harm.
Â· Poor people were workers so class repression was used.
Â· Virginia landowners created privilege among poor whites to aggressively enforce labor practices with uncompensated African American laborers.
- Privilege and Pathology
Â· Mental dysfunction and anxiety of privilege authenticated in 2004 study JAMA.
Â· Dominant group “has luxury of” not needing to care what others think.
- Guilt and Responsibility
Â· Our job and responsibility is to question privilege.
Â· We did not create the system of privilege so guilt is inappropriate but responsibility to change for the better is very appropriate.
Â· “We must say enough” to the legacy we have inherited and create true justice for all
Wise, T. (2013). White like me: Race, racism & white privilege in America. [Motion Picture]
. USA: Media Education Foundation.