Reading Cultures: Politics of Representation Author: Institution: Reading Cultures: Politics of Representation We start the analysis with Woodward’s observation that representation of identity functions in symbolically classifying the world and the relationships within it (Woodward, 1997: 8)…
The emergence of identities is linked to historical specificity; the conflicts that exist between identities can be traced to a given time. This proves that these differences are historical. Research shows that people invest in identity positions. In the representation of identity, Woodward insists that one should have a clear understanding between cultures and meaning (14). Representation involves practices and symbolic systems through which meanings are produced. Representation as a cultural process establishes individual and cultural identities. Systems of representation provide avenues for which individuals can position themselves. A good example that Woodward gives is the narratives of soap operas and the semiotics of advertising which he believes assist in the construction of gendered identities (14). If we link history to identities and representation, we consider the example of marketing promotions that Woodward looks at the promotion creates new identities at a given time. Advertising sells things and; therefore, it targets appealing to consumers and utilizes images, with which consumers can identify with, all practices that produce meaning involve relations of power, so in this case, politics plays the source of power in the aspect of representing identity in the advertising campaigns (Woodward, 1997:15). Inthorn looks at a wider European identity and its relation with the media. The media play a crucial role in the creation of identity. Advertisers are known to influence media coverage on political issues. This, therefore, affects the representation of identity. The press, in the case of Europe functions, to describe what Europe is about, the press promotes national identity, and this is achieved by referring to the past. The press also evokes a concept of taboo behaviour in European politics. The role of European politics is to promote the European identity (Inthorn, 2010:54). Hall and Du Gay argue that many studies have proven to equate cultural studies with the theory and politics of identity. They argue that the role of politics in to question the formation of identities and how they are taken up through the practices of representation. In a different perspective, it is argued that identities are produced within the play of powers, representation and difference. Hall illustrated that the formation of identity operates across the notion of difference. He examines the sassures linguistic and staturalistic approach of presentation. He argues that binary oppositions a marking difference is essential for producing meaning. He considers language as a system of signs to represent ideas and concepts. He concludes that there is no natural relationship between signs, and its signified meaning an example is the ideology that west does not mean anything without east. Is theories have been used in the development of the approach of semiotics, the other approach is the linguistic model which concentrates on cultural objects and practices are treated as signs conveying meaning through representation. Woodward also observed that cultural identities are constructed in relation to or differences from the others this construction usually appears in binary oppositions that are the concept of them and us. Let us consider representation and identity in advertising images. Schroeder and Zwick study how masculinity and interacts with consumption of imagery products, desires and ...
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