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The construction and representation of otherness in the local context

Andreja Grobelšek (2014) The construction and representation of otherness in the local context. PhD thesis.

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    The PhD thesis deals with the ways of how constructing representation of otherness develops discursively. The theoretical starting points encompass the knowledge of the importance of language, discourses and discursive practice for social practice as well as for creating images of various social groups and of social categorization and construction of social groups’ identity. They represent critical discourse analysis and its approaches as a means of research and understanding of social relations and the position of social minorities. The thesis highlights the basic notions and concepts connected with different approaches of critical discourse analysis namely, discourse, ideology, social power, representation, construction of social minorities. Critical discourse analysis is defined as a theory and method together with its theoretical and methodological starting points whilst Fairclough’s three-dimensional model of the discourse’s understanding and analysis is described in detail. The concept of “the other” as a concept of demarcation and distinction is represented by means of general society’s attitude to minorities or marginal social groups and power relations. “The others” are most frequently marked by stereotypes and prejudice. However, in current postmodern societies there has been a quality breakthrough concerning their expression, so it is necessary to speak out about the new racism, discrimination and tolerance. The thesis describes the role of media in constructing reality’s images in modern societies and represents key findings of researching characteristics of media reporting about marginal social groups. In the starting point of the research issue is the individualization of subjects and pluralisation of society within the field of social problems. Social pedagogical work within the local context triggers special dilemmas on how to combine the expert development with the performance in the local environment and how to surpass possible incoherence between theory and practical work. The issue brings out the question of who "the others" in the local environment are and how they are represented in the local media. Such research interest has so far only rarely been the focus in research additionally accompanied by the lack of literature. There have been discourse analyses of representations of marginal social groups, but there has not been a research carried out which would combine the analysis of representations of marginal social groups in the local media with the use of critical discourse analysis and would there-by be included in the field of social pedagogy. The fundamental goal in the empirical part of this study was to establish how the majority constructs itself discursively and how deviant groups are constructed and represented as well as to see which agents appear and establish themselves. This was carried out on the basis of two cities with different historical and social development through discourse analysis of two local newspapers in three selected years within a period of two decades. The results indicate that the two analysed local media perform the role of representatives of the current social organization in the specific historical period. Within the local context it is possible to analyse individual social groups, which are also recognized by literature globally. The transition is reflected in the articles of the two newspapers since the trend of even greater individualization of subjects is indicated in the selected period of time. Greater social inequality brings the appearance of social margin that is to say marginal social groups. The general image of marginal social groups in both local contexts is reflected through most frequent topics reported on by the two local media. In this sense, both newspapers deal with the topics of employing, unemployment and the state among workers, social hardships, delinquency and crime, addictions, illnesses and treatments, mental issues, migrations and tolerance, religious background, youth, aging and dying. The newspaper from Celje also deals with the topics of country life, gay equality, family violence and foster families. In the articles the members of marginal social groups are mostly related to trouble. Positive aspects are rarely represented and in most cases in connection with narrow segment of an individual’s or a social group’s life. What is also rarely present is the critical view of the marginal social groups’ position, which would alert to the inequality and contribute to social changes. In all periods and in both newspapers the key sources on marginal social groups are official, institutional and expert sources. There is some sort of general discourse on otherness creating and firming the distinction us-them. Therefore, the two media by means of reproducing features and roles form and sustain the existing representations as well as power relations. The work is completed with a critical reflection about the characteristics of discourses and representations of marginal social groups within a local context, which is aimed at spreading knowledge about constructing images of marginal social groups in (local) public and at understanding the problem of social exclusion. The work would also like to emphasize the possibilities of professional practice with the purpose of improving the situation of marginal social groups in the field of social pedagogy and other related sciences, and suggest the guidelines for further research in this area with a wish for greater critical thinking in science, professional practice and everyday life of people which also means openness to changes and therefore to different worlds.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
    Keywords: marginal social groups, social categorisation, critical discourse analysis, representations, local media
    Number of Pages: 301
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    red. prof. dr. Bojan DeklevaMentor
    Link to COBISS: http://www.cobiss.si/scripts/cobiss?command=search&base=50126&select=(ID=10078025)
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 2182
    Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2014 11:54
    Last Modified: 20 Jun 2014 11:54
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/2182

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