sexist propaganda

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Abstract

There is a substantial amount of feminist research on sexism in language and various forms of media sexism (children’s literature, print, radio, and television advertising and programming, and motion pictures). However, after an extensive search for studies linking language and media sexism to unintentional propaganda that occurs in small groups and one-on-one, nothing specifically linking them was uncovered. This literature review hopes to fill that gap.

Keywords: feminism, sexism, language, media, unintentional propaganda

 

Research Statement

While my fascination and study of propaganda began several years ago, I did not make the leap and link it to language and media sexism until a few years ago through a feminist psychology course. My research began with the definition of unintentional propaganda supplied by Leonard W. Doob (1966). This definition allowed me to make the connection to language, small groups and unintentional influence. When I began researching literature for this bibliography, I was hopeful that I would find unintentional propaganda, or at least propaganda linked to language and media sexism within the research. After an extensive search, I found nothing directly. Instead, I found references to overt, subtle, and unintentional sexism embedded in language, literature, and media texts. I was able to tie these directly to unintentional propaganda based on discussion material in each source.

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Quantitative Research Design

Introduction

Area of Interest and Statement of the Issue.  My primary area of research interest is the influence of sexism in media propaganda upon the self-esteem of Black American teen girls and young women.  Queries into propaganda research and the influence on gender and racist stereotypes have revealed no direct studies of the subject or any related subjects.  Let me be clear here.  There is an abundance of quantitative and qualitative research into the influence of stereotypes, of sexism and racism embedded in the English language (Sunderland, 2006), and even of the influence of sexist media programming and advertising upon women and (Sunderland, 2006).  However, I am unable to find any research that explicitly identifies this as unintentional propaganda (Doob, 1966) or as “penetration of an ideology by means of its sociological context” (Ellul, 1969). There is a gap between media and propaganda and between sexism and propaganda that this research hopes to connect and fill.

Theoretical perspectives.  The quantitative theory that would be most aligned with this particular topic is correlational modeling research where path analysis maps the relationships between a number of variables and displays the degree to which any of them can be used to predict one or more variables (Locke, et al, 2010).  In this theory, lines are given a direction of influence and the number given for each line indicates the degree of influence that has been exerted.  Swim, et al. (2004) utilize modelling to measure the association between Modern Sexist beliefs and identifying and engaging in subtle sexist behavior.  Connelly and Heesacker (2012) utilized structural equation modeling to explore the extent to which benevolent sexism is positively associated with life satisfaction.  The scales included benevolent sexism, hostile sexism, system justification and life satisfaction.  Oehlhof (2011) use structural equation modeling that took into account objectifying experiences, internalized experiences, and psychosocial outcomes related to self-objectification of overweight women.

The study of sexism in media propaganda has not been researched specifically via the influence of unintentional propaganda but it has been studied via the influence of media programming (Lafky, et al, 1996; Plakoyiannaki, et al, 2008, Plakoyiannaki and Zotos, 2009).  The manner that influence has been described in past studies is described as propaganda elsewhere (Doob, 1966) as well as sociological, cultural, and societally embedded (Ellul, 1969).

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The process of constantly contemplating a research topic from one class to another serves an interesting purpose in my mind.  It causes me to constantly rethink this topic and others that I have dwelled on for the last few years. I see this as a powerful engagement with the topic of gender and racism propaganda, sitting where I sit from a perspective of an Italian white-appearing cisgender man and causing me to constantly look at this topic from different perspectives and engage others with this topic.  As a result, my area of interest at this time has been refined as, what are the short and long-term effects of organized sexist media propaganda as it influences unintentional interpersonal sexist propaganda upon Black women and girls.

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(Once again, I freely admit this isn’t perfect, but from the earlier Goffman Paper to this, I see some marked improvements. I would also like your constructive feedback when you have a chance to read this since I would like to make this a real study that perhaps my followers could participate in at some future date.)

To what extent are individuals influenced by the language of sexist propaganda embedded in media advertising and programming perpetuated by small in-group conversations that reinforce sexist media texts? And how aware are individuals of their use of sexist language that perpetuate themes and ideas from sexist media propaganda?  The implications of this question lie in the definition of propaganda as much as in the definition of sexist language.

Propaganda is the use of communication to achieve behavior and attitude changes amongst one group of people by another individual or group.  Intentional propaganda is that which is practiced and performed by media companies with a deliberate agenda to promote ideas or products utilizing sexist media texts already present in our language or visual symbols that are used instinctually.

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(This is more or less a brainstorming session to begin fleshing out these thesis ideas and, and, and, to satisfy the assignment requirements for Social Psychology.  Bear with me folks.  It’s getting interesting.  And if anyone at all has any suggestions to improve this, please let me know.)

  1.      Original hypothesis:  Individuals and small groups are influenced by intentional sexist propaganda embedded in media texts that influence unintentional propaganda in conversational language.

2.      If I was to use a survey method for my study, how might I change my hypothesis? If I were to use a survey method for my study I may change my hypothesis to reflect that survey thus, Individuals and small groups are influenced by intentional sexist propaganda embedded in media texts that influence unintentional propaganda in conversational language surveyed through word association and analogy tests.

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Harvard’s Implicit Associations Test is interesting, as loaded as an adjective as that is in this case.  The visual portion of the test makes certain assumptive social constructs that particular categories of individuals “look” a specific way (I took the gender- science test and the African American-European American test—twice) rather than another.  There was no room for variations or exceptions to this test “rule”. For any interested in seeing the tests, please click on this link, https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit//demo/, and find “Demo”.

Now to the results, what I found, what I think of them, and the test.

1. I took the Gender- Science Test and the African American-European American Test—twice.

2. The tests’ results were not consistent with my conscious attitudes and beliefs very simply because the tests did not allow for an African American that “looks” like a European American, who looks like a Hispanic American, who looks like an Asian American, or who looks like any other variety of multi-racial or multi-ethnic American.  Additionally the test allowed for no variation in the test answers if I associate the adjective of one stereotypical “racial characteristic” or gender characteristic with the one that is not associated with that stereotype.  When I attempted to do this, my answers were marked “wrong”.

3. I think I obtained the results I did because I learned how to “take” the tests in a particular way and in a way that my brain was able to respond and follow the directions of the test that stated that the adjectives of one type and one social construct had to be associated with one key on the keyboard and the adjectives of another type and social construct had to be associated with another key on the keyboard. Once again, my impression of the tests is that they test your ability to take tests and very little else.

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