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Stereotyping is a mental activity that is neither natural or necessary however due to laziness upbringing or coincidental experiences Lester 1996 p1 the stereotyping of individuals results in harmful generalisations that ultimately deny an individuals unique contribution to humanity Lester 1996 p1 When the mass media engage in stereotyping misleading representations concerning members from diverse cultural groups are confirmed In this essay a broad range of texts will be used to examine the ways in which the mass media construct and reinforce social stereotypes around gender ethnicity and age as well as how the media shape ones imagination though direct images It cannot be doubted that the media profoundly influence peoples attitudes and outlooks They convey a whole variety of information which individuals would not otherwise acquire Newspapers books television radio films recorded music and popular magazines Giddens 1989 p79 bring individuals into close contact with experiences of which we would otherwise have little awareness Giddens 1989 p 79 There are very few societies in current times even among the more traditional cultures which remain completely untouched by the mass media Electronic communication is accessible even to those who are completely illiterate or in isolated areas of the world According to Juredini and Poole gender usually refers to the behavioural and attitudinal characteristics as well as roles that are learned and derived from a particular cultural milieu 2000 p171 An important source of gender information in a consumer society is television Despite some notable exceptions for example Sesame Street most television shows continue to portray males and females in stereotypical gender roles Sigorelli 1990 citied in Newman 2000 p 136 In a recent study of television programs male characters are more likely than female characters to occupy leadership roles and achieve them as well as being portrayed as inquisitive In addition they are more likely to be portrayed in a recognisable occupation demonstrating to audiences that males are more career orientated and dedicated
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