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Demystifying the Myth of Genderlect through Intertextuality in Global Media Discourse
This article outlines a ‘gender-based analysis’ at the connection of critical discourse analysis and intertextuality, with the aim of providing a rich analyses of the multifaceted mechanisms of power and ideology in discourse in supporting hierarchically gendered social orders. The focus of this research is to identify how gender is socially constructed through linguistic choices (especially intertextuality) and discursive practices in media discourse and how these discursive practices in media discourse contribute to create a feminist perspective. The present article has collected 60 talk shows, panel discussions and interviews from 5 global news channels. A corpus is built and a linguistic analysis is conducted where Fairclough’s Intertextuality is used as research Methodology. Moreover, Van Dijk’s socio-cognitive model is used as research framework in which data is analysed on ‘us versus them dichotomy’ and at ‘micro and macro level’ of discourse. It is observed that through the use of intertextuality, dominant ideology is (re)-created in feminist media discourse.
Genderlect, Intertextuality, Global Media
Discourse analysis of discursive practices examine how language produces meanings and how power relations and the formation of identities take place (Mayes, 2010). This is the reason why media discourse studies aim to understand how social meanings and information are established and produced (Yegen & Abukan, 2014). Media discourse becomes the area of transformation of political actors’ ideas to public opinion and area of establishment of their ideology, power and domination through media (Berkowitz, 1997).
The focus of this research is to identify how gender is socially constructed through the use of Intertextuality and discursive practices in media discourse, and how media represents feminist media discourse in global electronic media. And that how these discursive practices in media discourse contribute in creating a feminist perspective. The working definition of gender, based on West and Zimmerman (1987) and Butler (1990) says that: Gender is nothing people are born with, nor something people have. It is something that people do; something people perform. In comparison to sex, which is the genetic classification primarily grounded in generative prospective (Ross, 2004), gender is the societal embellishment of genetics.
Major research contributions this research carries is to successfully widen the perception of the use of Intertextuality in determining and establishing gender based dominating ideologies in electronic media discourse.
This study provides an in-depth understanding of quantitative approach used to analyse the use of Intertextuality in media discourse by developing a corpus of entire data. The use of corpus analysis which is considered as one of the best and reliable statistical tool to get desired information in statistics for analysis of data has never been previously used for this kind of research in the past.
Furthermore, present research provides a practical insight into CDA as a holistic manner. It also provides an opportunity to further debate and expand the knowledge in this field.
The research is conducted in order to respond to the following question:
· What is the role of global media discourse in representing gender based issues to create dominant ideologies through the use of intertextuality?
The researcher came up with the objective of this research as under:
· To identify the role of global media discourse in representing gender based issues through the use of intertextuality
The following women issues were selected for data analysis:
1. Reproductive rights (anti-abortion law and women)
2. Violence against women (domestic, workplace)
3. Rape and Sexual harassment
4. Prostitution and Paid sex
5. Women education
6. Women Rights and their violation
Once women issues were carefully chosen, 5 news channels were selected from global electronic media based upon their popularity and ranking as well as the selection of their subject matter and the quality of English language used in those news channels. The selected news channels are as follows:
Once data from the table talk shows were collected, corpus was made (using AntConc 3.3.5), analyzed and findings developed, the researcher reached a conclusion in the light of those results and findings.
This research provided an insight to analyse the role of media in gender based linguistic practices of global electronic media discourse.
This research is delimited to media discourse practices in television table talk shows/ panel discussions/ interviews in global electronic media. The global news channels are ‘purposively’ selected on the basis of their coverage in more than 100 countries around the world. Six news channels CNN, BBC, Fox News, CNBC, CTV, and MSNBC are selected for this purpose from Dec 2010 to Jan 2014 range only.
Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) considers the relationship between language use and broader social and cultural structures (Fairclough N, 1995). In Fairclough’s approach this means the connections between a particular communicative event, such as newspaper coverage of an event, and the total structure of an order of discourse, as well as adjustments to the order of discourse and its elements, genres and discourses.
For the operationalization of these theoretical considerations Fairclough develops an analytical framework, drawing on the concept of intertextuality (that is the relationship between texts ‘before’ and ‘after’). In Fairclough’s point of view, a discursive event is simultaneously text, discursive practice, including the production and interpretation of texts and social practice. The concept of intertextuality offers a perspective discourse as a way of looking at a text’s interactions with prior texts, writers, readers, and conventions. It means the text gets its meaning through or in relation to other texts. In order to analyze intertextuality there are a variety of ways in the process of production and interpretation of text. Some of them focus on the linguistic conventions whereas others on social conventions.
According to Fairclough, intertextuality talks about how texts can bring changes to past texts and reconstruct prevailing norms (genres, discourses) to create newness (Fairclough , 1995a). It deals with how texts are produced in relation to prior texts and how texts help to create the existing conventions in production of new texts.
One of the major reason to choose Fairclough intertextuality as one of a theory for analyzing the collected data in the present research is that Fairclough has provided a three-dimension framework for analyzing intertextuality in media discourse. To Fairclough, ‘discourse representation’ is a form of intertextuality in which parts of particular texts are integrated into a text and are generally, but not always, clearly distinct with notions such as quotation marks and reporting clauses (Fairclough, 1992).
Fairclough’s intertextuality is helpful for critical discourse analysis of media discourse in the current research, because discourse representation accounts for a major part of what news is: representations of what newsworthy people have said. Another main reason for selecting intertextuality is that intertextual analysis is an interpretative activity, which depends highly on the researcher’s personal judgment and experience (Fairclough, 1995). Researcher’s main interest is in analyzing intertextual relations as power relations, suggesting that intertextuality can become a focus of struggle (Fairclough N, 1992).
Basic concepts and procedures of analyzing intertextuality in further extension to Fairclough are referred by Bazerman, where he describes levels of intertextuality, techniques of intertextual representation, intertextual distance or reach, and translation across contexts / re-contextualization (Bazerman, 2004).
In the present study, researcher analyzes that intertextuality is not just a matter of which ‘Other texts’ are referred to, but how they are used, what they are used for, and ultimately how the researcher positions himself as a writer to make his own statement. Analysis of intertextuality in the present research, offers a bridge or interface between the context of discourse and the text. In the case of the present study, intertextuality is crucial to understanding how the genre rules, as in this research the use of discourse patterns in talk shows/ panel discussions portrayed by media, have influenced the production of a text.
Intertextual analysis of collected data in present research allows the researcher to see the ‘bigger picture’ of a discourse in terms of what its meanings are and how they connect to other implications held in the society as framing a specific discourse. In this way it can be seen to be putting on display socially established patterns of gender-portrayal that are held against the larger background of the potential of all the meanings that could be held.
To conduct a macro-analysis of collected data, Fairclough’s perspective on intertextuality (Fairclough, 1992) is adopted as a ground to investigate the intertextual features in the talk shows, panel discussions and/ or interviews on gender- based issues in global electronic media discourse.
The aim of research for this section was to investigate on participants of table talk show, panel discussions and/ or interviews and find out how they draw on other sources in their personal conversation; how other features are included in their statements; what kind of sources are used by the speakers/ participants; what is the reason for the speakers to use these sources; and how are the speakers positioned as interlocutors in connection with other sources to create their own sentences in a discourse.
Screenshot of Aljazeera # 1, KWIC result Transcript of Aljazeera #1 KWIC search from the corpus:
Fairclough’s Intertextuality is used as a framework adapted for this research (Fairclough, 1992); thus to study the intertextual features of speakers in this study this framework was used. As per Fairclough, “intertextuality points to how texts can transform prior texts and restructure existing conventions (genres, discourses) to generate new ones” (Fairclough, 1992).
During the analysis of talk shows/ panel discussions on women issues in global electronic media discourse, it was found that intertextuality deals with production of texts as produced in relation to historical discourse and how contexts is helpful to produce the dominant agreements in creating new discourses.
“Well we obviously know that United States went into Afghanistan and mislead for strategic interests but you do think that once the United States was there it became very evident that women issues were an important part of contact. As we know countries in which women have more bans in terms of education, economic development, there’s more peace and stability in the country. So the Bush administration did put some emphasis on women’s issues of Afghan women and children Relief Act that was passed and you know yet we’ve got the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan issued a report last year saying, ‘the current reality is women are denied their most fundamental human rights’.”
(Aljazeerano.1, 1:40 to 2:17)
In the above example, Riz Khan (the Aljazeera host) starts the speech with logical sequencing, ‘well we know’ which shows he wants to make the audience and other participants his partner in whatever he believes about the topic. One of the uses of intertextuality in Riz Khan’s statement is to combine the casual style of speech with the political realm. The speaker makes use of an informal style; he starts for example, by narrating the story of US invasion in Afghanistan and its effects on women there. In the above quotation, Riz khan imports a quotation from UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, this serves to link the ordinary/ customary discourse of the speech to the great big research done by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
Screenshot of KWIC result of Aljazeera no.5, line no.1:49 to 2:19 Transcript of the same KWIC search is as under:
The use of passive sentence without the doer’s name, ask for the analysis of the activation/passivation form, that helps to inform readers about Afghan women that in the most generally portrayed social actor, Afghan females are less activated than passivated. Passivation occurs in relation to domination and stresses, thus giving force to the helpfulness of agreements in contrast to them and ‘denied their most fundamental human rights’ and also in relation to any compromise with the US (permanent members of the UN Security Council).
Another statement was selected for the intertextual analysis, where no direct or indirect statements are used by the speaker but just some explanations to exemplify the circumstances. Some of the sentences are shown in the screen shot from corpus of selected data, Aljazeera no.5, line no.1:49 to 2:19:
“…absolutely Matty, I mean when a 12 year old, the dying girl giving childbirth in Yemen and ninety one percent of Egyptian girls and women have had their genitals mutilated; when 16 year old girls in Morocco are forced to marry their rapists, so that the rapist can escape sentence, that is nothing short of a war. Look who is waging the war in your view. Well, I think it’s a misogynist society. I think and this is why I made the point in my essay of the question and some people have told me you haven’t said it but perhaps we can on it…”
(Aljazeerano.5, 1:49 to 2:19)
In this example, speaker mainly assimilated external sources to fit into the text rather than inserted them as direct quotes. These external sources are all attributed, but from unidentified sources. The speaker seems to attribute these sources generally to some impersonal and generic agencies. They are used as evidence to show what women issues are and what the ‘misogynist society’ has done to them. In addition, the speaker does not strongly indicate endorsement from the external sources. The outcome of using such sources is to set some distance between the speaker and the statements she produces, and to avoid any personal responsibility for what is said. These sources are not attached to any particular organisation, but are taken as widely spread information to form the background of the argument of the statement. At the end of the statement, the speaker concludes the text by providing a strong proposition, (‘and this is why I made the point of question in my essay’) following the structure of an inductive argumentation.
Screenshot of KWIC search from (Aljazeera #1, 3:01 to 3:16) Transcript of Aljazeera no.1, 3:01 to 3:16 is as under:The evidence and use of intertextuality is also very much obvious in another example from Aljazeera #1, 3:01 to 3:16, which is as under:
“…and this is the critical issue for Afghanistan right now is that there’s these laws but they need to be implemented fairly well again. This is one the criticism with this being leveled against the current administration, not doing that, not only that they are not doing that, they are introducing things that the Shiite personal status law, that actually has apparently a significant detrimental…”
In the above statement the speaker is avoiding direct remarks on the USA and its activities, where the phrase ‘current administration’ is used to implicitly refer to the USA (Bush administration at that time), and how it is thought to act under the UN contract and in collaboration with other countries. Mentioning another external source ‘Shiite personal Status Law’, also shows the reason for intertextual inquiry which gives permission to get the ‘bigger picture’ of all the implied meanings in a text, let it be verbal or non-verbal, according to what the hidden meaning and how a connection is made with other implied meanings held in the social order as surrounding a specific text. This is how USA’s evasion in Afghanistan is indirectly considered to be fatal for Afghan women according to the media analyst, because still the law enforcement needs to be done.
The intertextuality pattern analysed here seems to be publishing socially recognised conventional forms of meaning that are portrayed in contradiction of the larger contextual history of the possible of all the perceptions that could be apprehended in this specific statement:
1. “It wasn’t because the people came in and said, ‘you know you need a target.”
(BBC NO.12, 23:10)
2. “The other hospital has come out publically and said, ‘they don’t perform abortions in their hospital.”
(Aljazeera NO.12, 13:55)
3. “And she said, ‘59 percent people felt that sex should be an option and women should be
free to choose’, and then it was repeated when the results were repeated.”
(BBC NO.4, 4:08)
The above statements refer to Fairclough’s (1992) discourse presentation which is a type of intertextuality in which portions of specific texts are further added into a text and are normally highlighted with strategies like reporting clauses. The above used reporting clauses are expressing the purpose of ‘the reporter's link between the report and the in which the report is embedded (Semino & Short, 2004).
Referring to Harold Laswell’s Media analysis model, communication for powerful elites is a way of not only to put up with their power but also to destabilise that of their competitors. This also goes in accordance to Van Dijk’s ‘us versus them’ ideology, where ruling elites are the ones responsible for the production and distribution of what they want to be consumed by public, therefore the references of texts used for the purpose of intertextuality, also express their ideologies and beliefs. The reporting clauses that are used to perform intertextual function in the above statements also carry the ideologies of the news-makers and not the individual person responsible for that particular utterance. There is a triangulation of principles of power, prosperity and authority (Laswell, 1927) as well as power misrepresentation as the leading dangers to effectual communication to the societal groups. It is a fact that power misrepresentation happens when the themes of communication is intentionally attuned to display an ideology and belief.
In short, it is analysed that the use of reporting clause or quotation marks (as per Fairclough) allows objectivity about the topic where the speaker use a number of external sources to form a type of public discourse, from which the speaker attempts to keep a distance. The speaker positions himself or herself outside this public discourse as its presenter, not as a participant within it. In this text, the speaker seems to be ‘the presenter’ of the statement rather than ‘responsible’ for the statement. The participant present subject matter by including different external sources and creates suggestions at the end, performing the social resolution of portrayals in a particular social context. Few positions adopted by the discourse producers express their stance in the verbal or non-verbal discourse.
Following is an in-depth analysis of discussions and findings from collected data, for this purpose the researcher has used quantitative and qualitative research methods to analyse facts related to the use of intertextual features about women issues in global electronic media discourse.
It is analysed from collected data that incidents of rape, especially associate rapes, are not highlighted and debated as power-driven abuse of women instead they are also being considered and talked as severely sexual happenings. This is one of the example of how intertextuality portrays immoderations and long-established ideologies of masculinity as violent and femininity as submissive. Another side of intertextuality while debating on rape issues is that it makes masculine ferocity to look sexy. In doing so, media tries to create an atmosphere where women are portrayed according to the wish of ruling elites’ ideologies about women.
Researcher has found that media portrayals are the techniques in which the media represents certain experiences, communities, groups, ideas, or themes from a firm ideological perspective. Thus in place of studying media demonstrations as just a reflection or a mirror to ‘gender-based reality’ the researcher has observed how Intertextuality portrayals work to (re)-present’ or to reasonably construct a totally different reality in representation of women issues.
It is analysed that even in serious women issue talk shows, women are not given the opportunity to participate as spokesperson, thus a message is sent to the world that men are more qualified and able humans among the two genders who have a strong opinion or belief about the world while women can’t show themselves as having strong opinions on serious subject matters. This is a degrading attitude for women suggesting they are not capable of making decisions on their own; it also demoralize females and make them believe they are not equal to men in mental abilities which brings their moral down as well.
The analysis of data in current paper shows how gender can be a valued lens for showing persistent and frequent structures that shape up the way individuals convey and represent dominant identities in interaction with hidden symbolic resources distributed through media, as well as how and when complicated web of intertextual contexts help to empower them in the discourse. The selection of intertextuality as a theoretical framework indicates that media wants to show that the concept/ideology of media institutions is close to what general public should understand and must form as well and thus media’s mind control technique is used as a media practice to build the same ideology and beliefs of whatever the controlling elites of media institute wants to communicate (Lasswell, 1927).
The present study is a pioneering study that focuses on the role of language use which create a dominant ideology of men as compared to women in global electronic media. In the present research, it is analysed how realities should appear are shown with the help of a variety of linguistic choices (mainly intertextuality) that are used to give slant to the actual reality in a way that it becomes the mind- set of the audiences too. It is interpreted that it is the job of news-makers to produce a model of representation, grounded in further mediated discourses and beliefs, depicting their own beliefs and attitudes. Starting from choosing how news is selected to be reported, a lot of decisions have to be made; this is where the point of biasness and objectivity falls in news selection as decisions have to be made that cant be personal and prejudice-free. Thus, through intertextuality, words with pictures help to develop our opinions and ideological beliefs about the women represented in media. The terms in which the world think about women as portrayed by media, in turn, effect decision-making and ideologies.
Through the use of Intertextuality, the dominant discourse of gender in media (television news channels) represents a biased picture of women while discussing women issues. Therefore, the analysis demonstrates that in no other way are women equally represented in news discourse than in relation to gender violence, sexual abuse and being deprived of basic human rights. In other words, majority of talk shows and panel discussions positioned women in some kind of relationship with men, which was of a violent or sexual character (voluntarily or by force) as shown by the use of Intertextuality. Conflicts in gender construction were obvious when investigating the various levels in discourse by getting reference from Fairclough’s theory of Intertextuality.
This research provides a new framework that is designed as a practical tool for gender studies practitioners to develop and organize gender based linguistic analysis by considering all the important elements that are needed for the successful outcome of gender-based linguistic analysis of media discourse through the use of Intertextuality.