How did the media, political and academic discourses portray young people in Britain, and what were the effects of these representations?
- Communication process
- Media, political and academic discourses
- Government policies
A discourse is a communication process which has the power to define a certain subject matter or topic and consequently directs the perception of people regarding that same subject matter or topic. It is a systematic and communicative method of forming knowledge and forwarding this knowledge as legitimate and true. Knowledge as connected to truth connotes the ascription of meanings to a given subject, which is then solidified and turned to be accepted meanings. On a further note, these meanings penetrate and influence the manner by which the world is interpreted, perceived and understood by individuals and the society in general.
These perceptions and interpretations of the world by the society are ultimately manifested in their actions. What is demonstrated by this idea is the fact that a discourse does not only possess the influential capacity to move the society towards a paradigm shift of consciousness. More importantly, it moves the society towards an actualization of a set or a system of actions based upon that newly formed and imbibed consciousness.
It provides a framework which is used by people to interpret their social environment and guide their action. ?Discourse is clearly then not just a linguistic concept, it is also about practice/action. Discourse defines a subject, it creates objects of our knowledge and can therefore influence how we react and act' (Dunbabin, 2011: 10). Furthermore, this is to say that a discourse maneuver flows deeper into the relational, institutional and structural arrangement of the society such that it predetermines not only the actions, reactions and responses of individuals but also other discourses that are engendered by it.
[...] If they are constantly portrayed in any social or public discourse as the problem, youth will always perceive themselves as the society's nemesis. Hence, any policy intervention is always interpreted as an attempt to subdue or overcome them. Their conclusion is one of pessimism so that they view policy intervention that targets youth-generated problems as created neither to help them nor to serve their best interest. Since the success and effectiveness of government policies and initiatives depends on youth involvement, the key therefore is to make them feel that they are part of the solution and not more of the problem. [...]
[...] The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Third edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [...]
[...] So policy initiatives do have a role to play but so too do the representations of youth. When such representations are high on the media's agenda then they clearly shift the public's perception of youth. Modern societies such as the UK are imperfect but they can slant towards a positive image of young people if they can highlight the positive realities even more than they highlight the negative image of young people as rioters and looters. Bibliography: Ashford, B. (2007). [...]