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A2 G325: Critical Perspectives in Media
The purpose of this unit is to assess candidates’ knowledge and understanding
of media concepts, contexts and critical debates, through their understanding
of one contemporary media issue and their ability to evaluate their own practical
work in reflective and theoretical ways.
• The examination is two hours
• Candidates are required to answer two compulsory questions, on their
own production work, and one question from a choice of six topic areas
(We're doing Media and Collective Identity).
• The unit is marked out of a total of 100, with the two questions on
production work marked out of 25 each, and the media theory question
marked out of 50.
There are two sections to this paper:
Section A: Theoretical Evaluation of Production (50 marks)
Section B: Contemporary Media Issues (50 marks)
Section B: Contemporary Media Issues
One question to be answered from a choice of six topic areas offered by OCR.
There will be two questions from each topic area.
The topic areas require understanding of contemporary media texts, industries,
audiences and debates.
• Candidates/ centres must a topic area, in advance of the examination and,
through specific case studies, texts, debates and prepare to demonstrate
understanding of the contemporary issue.
• This understanding must combine knowledge of at least two media and a
range of texts, industries, audiences and debates, but these are to be
selected by the centre / candidate.
• The assessment of the response will be generic, allowing for the broadest
possible range of responses within the topic area chosen.
• Each topic is accompanied by four prompt questions, and candidates
must be prepared to answer an exam question that relates to one or more
of these four prompts. There should be emphasis on the historical, the
contemporary and the future in relation to the chosen topic, with most
attention on the present.
Some thoughts on identity
"Identity is complicated. Everyone thinks they've got one.
Magazines and talk show hosts urge us to explore our
'identity.' Religious and national identities are at the heart
of major international conflicts. Artists play with the idea of
'identity' in modern society. Blockbuster movie
superheroes have emotional conflicts about their 'true'
identity. And the average teenager can create three
online 'identities' before breakfast."
David Gauntlett (2007).
On the one hand, identity is something unique to each of us that we assume is more or
less consistent (and hence the same) overtime... our identity is something we uniquely
possess: it is what distinguishes us from other people. Yet on the other hand, identity
also implies a relationship with a broader collective or social group of some kind. When
we talk about national identity, cultural identity, or gender identity, for example, we
imply that our identity is partly a matter of what we share with other people. Here,
identity is about identification with others whom we assume are similar to us (if not
exactly the same), at least in some significant ways.
David Buckingham (2008).
He argues that identity is complicated/complex.
“…collective identity [is] an individual's cognitive, moral, and emotional
connection with a community, category, practice, or institution. It is a perception
of a shared status or relation, which may be imagined rather than experienced
directly, and it is distinct from personal identities, although it may form part of a
personal identity. A collective identity may have been first constructed by
outsiders, who may still enforce it, but it depends on some acceptance by those
to whom it is applied. Collective identities are expressed in cultural materials -
names, narratives, symbols, verbal styles, rituals, clothing, and so on - but not
all cultural materials express collective identities. Collective identity does not
imply the rational calculus for evaluating choices that "interest" does. And unlike
ideology collective identity carries with it positive feelings for other members of
COLLECTIVE IDENTITY AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS.
Annual Review of Sociology, January 01, 2001, Polletta, Francesca; Jasper,
The important thing to remember about this exam is that you are theorising the
concept of collective identity, what is? How is it formed? And how do people use
the media to relate to an identity? Also remember what collective group you are
talking about ‘Black Britons’. I’ll break these revision notes down into the 4
questions that you need to be able to address. In addition when answering the
How do the contemporary media represent nations, regions and ethnic/
social/ collective groups of people in different ways?
How does contemporary representation compare to previous time
What are the social implications of different media representations of
groups of people?
To what extent is human identity increasingly 'mediated'?
Remember the case study texts I’ve provided you with FILM AND
MUSIC texts but you can use others, as long as you reference 2
different types of media in the exam its okay.
Historical - dependent on the requirements of the topic, candidates must
summarise the development of the media forms in question in theoretical
• Sapphire, Basil Dearden (1959)
• Flame in the Streets, Roy Ward Baker (1962)
• Pressure, Horace Ove (1976)
• Babylon, Franco Rosso (1980)
• 2 Tone (Genre)
• The Specials
Contemporary - current issues within the topic area.
• Kidulthood, Menhaj Huda (2006)
• Adulthood, Noel Clarke (2008)
• Shank, Mo Ali (2010)
• Freestyle, Kolton Lee, (2010)
• 1 Day Penny Woolcock (2009)
• Eastenders (BBC1)
• Dubplate Drama (Channel 4, 2005 -2009)
• Luther (BBC1, 2010)
• West 10 LDN (BBC3, 2008)
• Grime & UK Hip-hop
• Dizzie Rascal
• Skinny Man
Future - candidates must demonstrate personal engagement with debates
about the future of the media forms / issues that the topic relates to.
• Shank, Mo Ali (2010)
BREAKING THE QUESTIONS DOWN
Exam Board Wording Translation Examples
1. How do the contemporary The question is essentially Compare how ‘Black Britain’ is
media represent nations, asking you to compare represented through film texts and
regions and ethnic/ social/ how different music, briefly refer to historical
collective groups of people in contemporary media texts to get the point across that
different ways? construct (represent) the landscape and make up of
Black Britain in different what we now refer to (or
ways hypothesise) as Black Britain has
changed. Explain how the media
has contributed to this change,
how do films like Adulthood,
Kidulthood, 1 Day etc construct
Black Britain compared to music
texts and artists.
2. How does contemporary Compare how Compare how ‘Black Britain’ is
representation compare to contemporary media represented through film texts and
previous time periods? construct (represent) music in contemporary media text
Black Britain as opposed and historical media texts. Why
to how historical media were Black Britons represented in
texts constructed Black a particular way? Has is changed or
Britain stated the same why? Music is
important here as there may not
be as a significant change as there
was with film
3. What are the social What is the significance This links in with the first
implications of different media on society when different question. Think about who
representations of groups of media construct Black consumes the media texts we have
people? Britain in different ways? studied e.g. the films and the
music, what do they do with it? Do
they use the texts to help form
their own identity and become
part of that collective group. Or if
outside of the ‘collective group’ do
they use it to form their opinions
of that collective group.
4. To what extent is human How much of someone’s Identity is constructed and
identity increasingly identity can be said to mediated (it goes through a
'mediated'? come about due too a selection and organisation
thought process process). So how do Black Britons
influenced by the media? use the film and music to help
them to organise and select their
APPLYING THE TEXTS WITH RELEVANCE
Sapphire, Basil Dearden (1959)
Good for construction of how whites viewed Blacks e.g. the scene in
the club (Tulips) referring to light skinned women as ‘Lilyskins’.
Shaping them as ‘Other’ being from the jungle dancing to the sound of
the drum. The use of the red petticoat insinuating that black women
are promiscuous, the use of the characters of ‘Johnny’ and ‘Horace Big
Cigar’ their use language and the way the address the police showing
them to be almost illiterate and submissive. What other examples can
An example of Hegemony
Social realist film/ Racial problem film
Made just after Empire Windrush arrived
Flame in the Streets, Roy Ward Baker (1962)
Good for construction of how whites viewed Blacks, Gabriel referred to
as an animal by his wife when eating bread, the use of the Mods, etc
Representing the changing landscape of Britain e.g. mixed race
Social realist film/ Racial problem film
Implementation of new immigration laws
Pressure, Horace Ove (1976)
Britain’s first black feature film
First film that featured the struggle and disenchantment faced by
British-born black youths
Deals with the identity struggles that children of immigrants had to face
Social realist structure
Kidulthood, Menhaj Huda (2006) and Adulthood, Noel Clarke (2008)
Films that represent the change in the meaning of ‘Black Britain’
through the representation of a youth subculture
Asian director and black director who grew up in the area the films
Films have become hegemonic texts of what it means to be young and
‘black’ or part of that collective identity
Films that link in the music of the subculture, and so were popular
Focus on the youth the older generation missing in these films
Freestyle, Kolton Lee, (2010)
Provides a more positive representation of young ‘Black Britain’
Single dad – positive representation
All generations represented
Young black people having access to opportunities and wanting to
But wasn’t as popular as films such as Adulthood and Shank
1 Day Penny Woolcock (2009)
Gangs in Birmingham
Uses music of the subculture
2 Tone and The Specials
A music genre created in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s by fusing
elements of ska, punk rock, rocksteady, reggae and pop.
Music unlike film didn’t segregate
Youth found a common ground through their social experience and
British-born black youth and white youths mixing with no hostility
Contemporary music artists
Dizzie Rascal, N-Dubz, Skinny Man
Following in the footsteps of 2 Tone
Paul Gilroy writing about music in the 1960s and 1970s “an historic
encounter between young black and white people… [and] the
creation of a youth sub-culture in which black style and expertise
were absolutely central.” This still is the case now
KEY WORDS and TERMINOLOGY
The process by which the media select, alter, interpret, edit or invent aspects of
the world before presenting it to the audience in the form of representations.
There is an important difference between mediated experience and one’s direct
“…our knowledge of the world is constructed by media
representations” (Andrews, Maggie. Burton, Julia. & Stevenson, Elspeth.
(2009). AQA A2 Media Studies: Student's Book (Aqa Media Studies for A2).
Surrey: Nelson Thornes Ltd.)
Antonio Gramsci and the concept of hegemony, put simply ‘hegemony’ refers to
the supremacy of one social grouping over the other. Gramsci argued that the
ruling elite always makes great efforts to persuade the rest of the population that
maintaining the status quo is ‘common sense’. This involves convincing them that
supporting the interests of the elite is in their own best interests.
“…media representations of ‘race’ and ethnicity are constructed in
accordance with dominant ideological positionings which serve to
shape and control how individuals understand others’, and their own,
identities.” Fatimah Awan, Young People, Identity and the Media, PhD
Research Project, 2008
• The constructed and mediated presentation of people, things, ideas,
• Representation is the process by which the media present the ‘real world’
• Most importantly to represent is to ‘re-present’
“ In agreement with Hall, a significant body of research suggests that
the media, as a key transmitter of representations and as a major source
of information within society, has the power to control and shape
attitudes and beliefs held in the popular imagination” Fatimah Awan,
Young People, Identity and the Media, PhD Research Project, 2008
Refers to a complex and competing set of discourses that consider the legacy
and intellectual ramifications of colonialism. By colonialism we are talking about
the process of colonisation intrinsic to Empire building: one country’s claim to
sovereignty over another. When referring to colonialism there is therefore a
tendency to make implicit reference to the British Empire.
Original meaning a British resident with specifically Sub-Saharan African
ancestral origins, who self-identifies, or is identified, as "Black", African or Afro-
Referring to Black migrants from former British colonies, who are seen as not
belonging in the country they have migrated to
A minority youth culture whose distinctiveness depended largely on the social
class and ethnic background of its members; often characterized by its adoption
of a particular music genre
Reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion,
especially when success is partial or the result is heterogeneous.
SOME THOUGHTS TO END
What does it mean to be part of the collective group ‘Black Britain’
What did it mean to be ‘Black British’ and why has this changed?
How do the media represent ‘Black Britain’?
How can music be seen as anti-hegemonic in it’s representation of ‘Black
How do people use the media to help form an identity?
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