Ethnic identities, groups and hierarchies in Finnish and Dutch magazines
Media and media representations play a significant role, when considering the position of ethnic groups within contemporary societies. Media and discourses in the media form one of those arenas, within which representations, social relationships, identities and roles of people and groups of people are negotiated and constructed. Following the idea of social constructivism, the discourses in the media are not only a reflection of reality, but they also elaborate on the construction of a certain kind of reality. By studying magazines in the activity of ethnic identity formation, it is then possible to gain information about the relations between ethnic groups in a multicultural society and about the role of the media in reproduction of these relations. The general aim of this doctoral dissertation is to get a closer look at the way in which Finnish and Dutch magazines are representing ethnic group identities and relations (hierarchies) between ethnic groups. By studying the representations and discourses in magazines, research questions concerning the creation and meanings of ethnic group identities and the dynamics between different types of identities – not only ethnic identities, but also different social identities created – will be answered. Also the differences and variations in the representations of ethnic identities in different types of magazines and magazines produced in two different societies will be studied. The material of the study consists of ‘functionally equivalent’ magazines from Finland and the Netherlands, which will form pairs for comparison. The current selection includes a pair of news magazines, women’s magazines, trade union magazines and university/student magazines. The period of the study includes annual volumes from 2003 to 2006. Primarily texts and secondarily illustrations that present ethnic groups or handle issues concerning ethnic groups will be studied. The study method consists of a quantitative content analysis and a qualitative discourse analysis of selected texts and illustrations, based on sociological, cultural, media, discourse and linguistic theories. By comparing different types of magazines, the study will contribute to knowledge about the representations of fragmented ethnic group identities that magazines produce for different public groups/audiences. The comparison of magazines produced in two different societies can help understanding the influence of different society specific factors on the representation of ethnic groups in the media. Finally the results also possibly produce information to media and journalists themselves about how they recognize and treat ethnic groups and how it could be done differently.