Representation and the Media

Theories of representation argue that media products are not faithful or accurate reflections of reality because producers will always have to make important decisions about how the text is constructed. Think about a news broadcast. The way people, places, ideas and events are presented to the audience can be shaped by which direction the cameras were pointing, how the footage is cut and spliced into a narrative, the words used to describe the situation, and the music that accompanies the piece.

Signs are selected and combined to encode a message. Editors edit. Even selfies posted on social media are filtered. Representation, therefore, is the mediated version of reality.

Feminist Theory and Theorists

Feminism analyses and explains the impact of social forces on gender, especially the experience of women. Do media representations of femininity and masculinity systematically reinforce inequality? Find out more in our guides.


Representation matters. The media can have a significant impact on how we see and understand each other. This is particularly important when the narratives convey hurtful and damaging misrepresentations. The following critical frameworks examines how ethnic-racial groups are depicted in the media.

Audience Positioning

There is no doubt social and cultural contexts will affect the choices producers make when creating media texts. The following guides explore some of the processes which influence the representation of people, places and important issues.

Exam Practice


Getting to grips with representation and the media is a challenge. If you want to develop your understanding of the key concepts, you need to analyse the representation of people, places and products in a broad range of media texts. The following examples are a good place to start.