Gender and Media Studies: Progress and Challenge in a Vibrant Research Field

Milly Buonanno

Abstract

Gender and media studies has witnessed in recent years a resounding revival, as is testified by number of published monographs and collections, articles, themed issues of international journals, conferences that bring into focus the diverse features of the relationship between gender and communication. The field has gone through an ebb and flow process over time, since it began to take shape inside the academia in early seventies, under the determining influence of the second-wave feminism, which had made the media a primary object of  inquiry and criticism. Actually feminism, its waves and shifts and multiple voices, is a major factor to be considered - alongside equally shiftings conceptual frameworks and methodological tools underpinning research and analysis, and  the changing media contexts and contents -  in order to account for the constitution and development of the gender and media scholarship.

This paper is aimed at drawing an overview of such a history, through a narrative of change and continuity that strives to render how the field has come to be configured and reconfigured over time, and has readjusted its mode of engagement with the fundamental challenge of disclosing and understanding the gendered and gendering dimensions of the media discourses and practices.  More focus will be put on the strands of the vibrant debate that enlivens the current revival, much informed by competing ideas as regards gender and media in a postfeminist and media-saturated cultural environment.  

Keywords

gender, media, images of women, feminism, post-feminism

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