Minority Groups in Mass Media

Minority Groups in Mass Media

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The media is a representation of the society, and it conveys different social aspects of the people of any nation. The minorities in the United States have also portrayed various dimensions in the media, especially highlighting the issues they face as compared to the majority population. The media is responsible for articulating different thematic representations of the minority groups. The analysis has suggested that most racial/ethnic minorities remain underrepresented in video games, music, TV, and movies. Practical issues emerge when these channels inappropriately portray different stereotypes that determine the ways the mass media treats minority groups and can indeed hinder their equal participation in the society as that of the majority whites. This paper starts with a brief introduction, the significance, and then provides a detailed literature review. The methodology will use the self-administered structured survey and content analysis as the primary methods for obtaining, analyzing, and presenting information on the topic. Finally, this study shows what it expects to find and concludes with how media stereotyping of minority groups remains problematic.


Minority Groups in Mass Media

Introduction and Background

American culture is the “blend” of different cultures since it acclimatizes European outsiders into the US. It is to such an extent that these foreigners have managed to recreate their national personality, culture, and dialect, and received the language as well as the traditions and estimations of the new world. It all happens, generally, in a brief timeframe. Although these outsiders have dependably filled this “mixture” from all over the world, negative generalizations of racial/ethnic minorities and oppression on them keep on prevailing, even in the media. The “blend” has turned into an explosive that appears all-time ready to detonate with expanding racial tension in the media representation. Denial of property, workplace separation, refusal of the agreement, individual isolation, misuse, hate crimes, and racial intolerance all point to the ways that the society has sidelined minorities. It is as unpleasant now as it was hundreds of years ago. How might people decrease prejudice? Research has discovered that immediate group contact is a useful way to deal with the increasing discrimination. However, practical issues emerge when the media inappropriately portrays different stereotypes. The mass media plays a significant role when trying to show the different aspects of various ethnicities and races, and, in the process, it reveals many divisive elements especially of the representation of African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and the native peoples.

Significance of the Study

Undertaking the research will be very significant to understanding how the media represents minority groups within the country. It will provide various lessons on societies’ behaviors, elements, depictions, and overall influences it generates and the ensuing results through association of people. The research will also be significant in two ways as it will be of historical and contextual analysis. The history will only serve to show common patterns and tendencies that have taken place over time up to current standards. It will then be necessary to use the context to enable an in-depth approach when fighting the issues of discrimination, racism, generalization, and stereotypes among different communities. Therefore, the research is very critical to the nationalism of the country and its people going forward.

Literature Review

Mass media, be it the form of video games, music, television or movies as cultural storytellers, serve as widely available and shared sources of biased, racist, and stereotyped information (Behm-Morawitz & Ortiz, 2013, p. 252). American culture is not similar as different social orders in it mostly comprise foreigners, regardless of whether the majority groups are in contrast to minorities. A specific case is the population of Native Americans. They are the local individuals and have for some time distinguished as one of the four ethnic or racial minorities in the US. Extensively characterized, the other remaining three are Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans (Breslin, 2008). In the last couple of decades, the relatively vast and regularly expanding population of the four racial/ethnic minority groups has pulled in light of a legitimate concern for analysts on the mass media role of portrayal. Some attention primarily is on racial/ethnic preferences, especially the way the media observes the present-day prejudice or aversive racism.

Video Games

Stereotyping creates partiality as a state of mind, and it is evident in the video games. For example, most video games depict Arabs as terrorists. Indeed, Saleem and Anderson (2013) found that playing a video game portraying Arabs as terrorists increase anti-Muslim bias and their perceptions of them as aggressive. Most video games undermine perceptions of minority groups in two ways (Prot, Anderson, Gentile, Warburton, Saleem, Groves, & Brown, 2015, p. 284). Firstly, they exclude them from taking on the principal character roles. And, secondly, they portray them through stereotypical images.

Racial/ethnic preference is “a biased negative judgment” (Briley, Shrum, & Wyerjr, 2011) or a negative mentality towards an individual from a social group or the whole community. The biased idea of racial/ethnic preference confirms that partiality is, as a rule, defective and unavoidable. The characters and roles given to the minority groups in these video games is one of racial segregation as compared to whites (Cobb, 2016). Usually, the minorities perform smaller roles, filled with vulgar and illiterate innuendos in video games. In this sense, it is mainly an ancient perspective, regardless of the objective used, especially in the video games (Prot et al., 2015). Because of the fierce feeling process and one-sided thoughts regarding others and distinct communal gatherings, massive injustices have occurred over the years from such conflicts.

The video games also show a tendency of aggressive themes propagated by the minority groups. Such a bias resolves the aim to discover the reasons for discrimination, as well as approaches to reduce it. Houston (2012) proposes four ways to deal with the problem, including laws, controls, and across the board standards; mass impact forms—standardizing or instructive; gathering and relational impact forms—regularizing or useful, and a psychotherapeutic way to cope with change in identities. Out of the four methods, he contends, the first one is the best based on legislation. Nevertheless, it is likewise most necessary and takes time to have the significant influence. The mass impact can be as influential if it might reach nearly an equal number of individuals with the media coverage. Since it cannot be obligatory, it will not gather as much unconstructive response as the first. The third way, Houston says, has been exceptionally influential. As indicated by Jung (2014), the primary issue is that given its intercession character, it is not a reasonable regular procedure of communication.

Connected with prejudice is the element of segregation that considers the racial representation of people in video games. The research has discovered that there will not be a fundamental connection between inclination and separation (Jin & Yoon, 2014). In fact, Jin and Yoon (2014) characterize segregation as a distinct habit that seeks to separate people from their nationalities and ethnicities with the aim of profiting and benefiting at their expense.

Another related mental process is stereotyping. Generalizations are usually straightforward and are frequent in video games (Reiman, 2012). Although a sweeping generalization is still a negative and constructive conviction based on different communities, it carries a significant influence on the social life of the people involved. It also shows a psychological issue when an individual decides to judge others. It enables people to watch their expressions when they think negatively. Additionally, it also increases their abilities to relate to social and communal groups to have a place in the society. Although the empirical evidence in this area is scarce, but the effects of video game-based stereotypes on attitudes are the same as that of other forms of media.


Although a preference for any type of music can play a significant role in shaping an individual’s identify, scholars have most often examined the role of music preference. Music that a person likes or dislikes provides messages for how to behave. Thus, a preferred song influences beliefs, feelings, and behavioral tendencies, and these, in turn, can become part of who people “think they are” (Warburton, 2012). Music over the years has been limited in negative projection of minority groups in the United States. The contributions made in the entertainment industry and ability to forge career through music has helped change the aspect.

But the researchers have hypothesized that negative mood-inducing music, such as listening to Eminem, would evoke more negative stereotypes of minority groups (Warburton, 2012). When people feel sad or depressed, their views of some minority groups became more negative. The research on stereotyping of ethnic or racial minorities varies from the real substance to the individual attributes of generalizations. It also transfers the unavoidable routine about the changes witnessed in the musical circles and the effect they have on the minorities (Happer & Philo, 2013). These investigations guide this paper to the recommendation that real generalizations are inescapable in human communication. It is useful to relate constructive media depictions of minorities in the songs to the impact they have on the individual views of different groups and thus relieve their racial/ethnic bias, in actuality.

There are minimal elements of stereotypes associated with music from the minority groups’ enhancements. Stereotypes present an exaggerated picture of (a group of) people based on the firm beliefs and expectations about characteristics or behaviors of the group. It is quite an individual process. It comprehends the world by disentangling information based on hearsay. Stereotyping turns into the personal decision since people have the limit to the point that they do not process data deductively. Instead, they do not have the powers to deal with the songs that they listen daily (Warburton, 2012). With the specific objective to process data most proficiently, humans fall back on handling various issues through learning rather than methodical preparation. When people generalize others, it spares their intellectual strength. They do not have to attempt to judge with efficient preparing requests. But they use their information obliged by its accessibility, availability, and appropriateness to frame psychological principles or pictures (Cobb, 2016) and to develop generalizations of different groups of individuals. Notwithstanding the individual capacity, stereotyping also has its social and mental abilities.

Television and Movies

American culture has taken precedence in representing minority communities with negative depiction in television and in movie roles.  Stereotyping checks and keeps up the current request and reality with the objective of marginalization. People value any social or communal contrast to others as a superior human advancement. Mentally, this produces a feeling of superiority over different groups of individuals and serves as the personality safeguard (Happer & Philo, 2013). In the two detects, generalizations legitimize the biased personality even in the media elements and publications (Reiman, 2012). Consequently, stereotyping different gatherings of individuals, or incorporating minorities in American culture, is unavoidable whether it is intrapersonal, relational, or intervened. It is in line with the idea that it meets the human intellectual needs and fills their social and mental requirements when the mass media portrays entertainment, information, and understanding. The three elements of racism can clarify not just the antagonistic generalizations individuals often have towards minorities but also the certainty of this intellectual procedure.

Pessimistic generalizations can be seen in the roles that African Americans are given when compared to the white counterparts. Most TV programs offer them lesser roles, some with criminal records and indications of brutality. The women are sexualized in the same settings. The results are center of partiality debate, and they reflect well in the separation conduct of different groups of people (Briley et al., 2011). Such determinants or judgments focused on racial/ethnic gatherings allocate them negative qualities. Bigotry and racial/ethnic separation are frequent in the American culture since people cannot help but segregate when they stereotype. It happens when they use generalizations to protect their sense of self-worth with the goal that others will not undermine personal idea and self-interests (Sezneva 2014). Eventually, generalizing is to utilize words to affirm the belief about a community group. The research so far reveals that media labels and oppresses ethnic and racial minorities.

Chances of mitigating the segregation concerns in television and movies are minimal as the depiction shows weaknesses. Most Hollywood movies represent African American males as violent, evil unruly, and rebellious. They should perceive and change their views to dispense racial and ethnic preference. These beliefs in the American culture have changed to such an extent that out-dated racial/ethnic partiality is now the innovative bigotry (Jung, 2014) or aversive prejudice that portrays the individuals who believe that they are not racists, but their behaviors and conducts demonstrate that the opposite. Frequently, their bias is subtle to the point that it is hard to gauge (Breslin, 2008). In this way, Breslin contends that racial/ethnic partiality should be estimated in a more viable manner. The recent research demonstrates that generalizations do change as well. The images of African Americans shown as the white-collar class as compared to their representation as average workers help improve their portrayals (Punyanunt-Carter, 2008). Nevertheless, this unstructured data process may not encourage generalizations of African Americans if the core ethnic/racial bias remains untested.

Stereotyping is subject to decisions that people make about different groups. In fact, it ‘biases’ their subsequent judgments. At least, that is how the empirical social psychological research on stereotypes has always interpreted such influences (Jussim, Cain, Crawford, Harber, & Cohen, 2009, p. 215). It means that humans are using their knowledge about other groups to make informed decisions under tricky situations or in circumstances where little or no information is available. If their information is logically correct, “relying on the stereotype will usually make those judgments accurate” (Jussim et al., 2009, p. 215). Nevertheless, as indicated by social-psychological hypotheses, stereotypes play a significant role in molding views that people hold of groups and the ensuing conduct and responses that they give to them.

As Houston (2012) places it, based on generalizations, people stereotype what they see in the media. This area of research has remained controversial with many researchers emphasizing the power of stereotypes to biased decisions and others stressing the relatively modest influence and the significant role of such visible information (Jussim et al., 2009). It is, therefore, necessary to reflect on the ways the media stereotypes of minority groups shape perceptions of people. For example, Schein, Thoj, Vang, and Jalao (2012) conduct a scholarly critique of the dominant stereotypes of Asian Americans. The research finds, on the one hand, Asian men, as cast by the media, as aggressive murderers and sexual predators, and on the other as passive intellectuals and feminized asexual. A similar qualitative study conducted by Street (2011) suggests that the American media frames a dual picture of Asian women. They are weak, passive, and silent women, who remain sexually submissive, or they are villainous, aggressive, and truculent, who are sexually sadistic. Thus, the media portrays both Asian men and women as highly gendered and sexualized. The influences these media stereotypes have on the people perception tinges their seeing of Asian-American women as submissive to men, imprisoned within the domestic realm, and unthinking slaves to culturally conservative gender roles. Indeed, it reveals that people often wrongly interpret the images of minority groups. They see these as just the similar age-old standard stereotypes.

Research Methods and Designs

The research will make use of the self-administered structured survey and content analysis as the primary methods for obtaining, analyzing, and presenting information on the topic of mass media representation of minority groups. The survey will take into account the ability to describe populations within smaller groups and getting answers from the selected respondents. This method is a useful tool to reach the ends attained in this study. The advantage of a self-administered survey is “its economy, speed, lack of interviewer bias, and the possibility of anonymity and privacy to encourage more candid responses on sensitive issues” (Babbie, 2012, p. 273). The last point of encouraging anonymity and confidentially is of particular importance to the survey of mass representation of minority groups in the media. In fact, without the possibility of guaranteed privacy, many of the most telling and relevant comments of the respondents would most likely not have been forthcoming.

This study aims at soliciting as much information as possible on the mass media representation of minority groups, and the self-administered survey seemed the best approach to meet this objective. However, the response rate of this method is often lower than on telephone interviews. It was an acceptable drawback. But it holds less weight than the necessity to offer anonymity and a setting of privacy in answering the survey to the respondents.

The research will use all the responses given in the data enhancement of the representative groups. The respondents will choose the questions to answer, and their responses will not be limited since the unstructured method of obtaining data will be the primary source.  The survey will consist of open-ended, MCQs, rating-scale, and Likert-type questions. The researcher will email it to all students studying in the University of California, Irvine, and administer it in a mass-testing format. Those who will participate in the survey will be informed that this study will not reveal all of their responses and personal information, and it will remain confidential.

The second part of the research methodology will use the content analysis, a research method focused on looking for representations that fit within the themes identified in the literature review. Content analysis is a significant technique for revealing broad patterns of minority representation for comparison and for activist groups challenging its limited nature. If designed and conducted well, it produces significant details for the minimum amount of time invested. Babbie (2012, p. 341) suggests that perhaps the most vital benefit of the content analysis “is its economy in terms of both time and money.” Therefore, using this research tool is a viable option for an individual researcher because it involves collecting data from primary sources and using the details as introspective research parameters. The study will analyze the content based on its quantitative description, systematic selection, and specific requirements. It will source some of the information from television shows, websites, different media publications, and outputs from specified locations. The focus of content analysis will be obtaining the pattern from each source and analyzing its historical importance according to the topic.


Expected Findings

Much of the history of the making of modern identities has occurred in line with the rise of modern media. Minorities have fought for recognition to combat the relative invisibility in the media. This representation matters because it helps them gain social and political formation of identity. Based on the content analysis, the research expects to find the representation of the minority groups is dependent on the role the mass media assigns to them. For example, media portrayals of African Americans categorize them mostly as a problem and a threat. Historically, the media coverage has characterized them by lazy, lesser intelligent, immoral, and are more crime-prone as compared to the majority of the population. The media associated the term immigrant with African Americans despite the fact that a large number of whites have also migrated into the country. Based on the news and their frequent appearance on media, the headings also give way into the kind of depiction associated with African Americans and the Asian Americans (Richard, 2017). For example, when the news headlines show that immigrant births have risen, they mean that the population of both African Americans and Asian Americans is on the increase. It does not equally represent the majority and minority groups of the same population sample.

Another expected finding of the content analysis will be the relationship of physical attributes as well as abilities. For example, most media portrayals compare African Americans and Asian Americans with whites. When it talks about the minority groups, it associates them with poverty, lower social status, animalistic sexuality, stupidity, rawness, lowliness, and the overall violence (Street 2011). Similarly, it relates them to the majority whites in undesirable ways. For example, gangsters, muggers, rioters, and unruly social behaviors are all attributes of the minority individuals.

Most of the content analytic studies conducted on investigating the representation of minority groups in America have relied on films and television (Richardson-Stovall, 2012). And the most studied minority groups appearing on the media are African and Asian Americans. This study also hopes to find why these two have remained underrepresented and subject to problematic portrayals in the media. All media channels, such as films, TV shows, and radios, have the history of representing them in roles that serve to perpetuate and perhaps increase negative stereotyping of this cultural group. For example, they show minority blacks unfavorably and in subordinate positions to the majority whites. They associate their connection with disease, crime, and violence (Richardson-Stovall, 2012). For example, most films describe an African male as a menace to the society giving disservice and negative attention when compared to others.

Another expected finding can be realized through the separation given to the minority groups in religion, where the media often represents them negatively as compared to majority populations. For example, the language and discourse relating to the misrepresentation of Muslims are prevalent in TV shows, news, literature, and mainstream cinema. The mass media often portrays them negatively. Following the events of the September 11 attacks, several reports have shown the Islamic world to be of exclusive terrorist actions and identified the probable cause for alarm to the society (Jin & Yun, 2014). This study also hopes to find out how the media usually covers Islam, Muslims, and the prevailing discourses about them. Current news channels also portray unpleasant views of Islam as a religion and create a perception of threat to the much-respected western civilization.

Almost all themes represented in the Islamic reporting revolve around terrorist organizations. Hollywood films have long relied on images of Muslims for depiction of terrorists, and recently the tie between Islam and terrorism has become further cemented through representations in post-9/11 films (Behm-Morawitz & Ortiz, 2013, p. 255). Most action-oriented games also show similar images of Arabs and Muslims as dangerous and violent foes. The ratio between positive and negative depiction on the same issues is minimal as the disparity accounts for the tyranny of atrocities and historical injustices realized over the years. The concentration has always been on issues, such as the authoritarian rule, which does not represent a general expectation of democracy. It mainly solidifies the argument of backwardness from the western world (Tomlison, 2018). The reporting through media sources attributes resistance and terrorism as primitive associations to summarize war-like characters of the Muslims. They pay little attention to the other aspects of civilian life in the Islamic world. Media institutions in the US portray Islam with negative imagery and thus create anticipated fear of the religion and its people. Their focus, therefore, remains on sustaining the audience through such reporting.

Historically, the US media has stereotyped and sometimes completely eroded minority groups. For example, Latinos represent the fastest growing minority groups in America, but they remain underrepresented in the media as they make only 2-5% of the prime time TV population. In fact, it presents them stereotypically. For example, the history of their representation shows that they are either “Latin Lover” or “Harlot,” who remain sexualized, fiery, and aggressive characters (Behm-Morawitz & Ortiz, 2013, p. 254). They are deviant, slovenly and dangerous criminals. And the media calls them ‘the buffoon,’ who is not intelligent, disrespected, and lazy. This research hopes to find out why the media constructs Latinos as dissimilar to other Americans and a threat to the American way of life. This expected finding would help in determining the factors that result in a likely increase in portrayal of Latino group as poor, dangerous, and criminal in the news.

The third-largest minority group is of Asian Americans making up 4.8% of the population of America, and Asians “account for only 1% to 3% of TV characters” (Behm-Morawitz & Ortiz, 2013, p. 254). Little research has examined the media imagery of this minority group. They make up almost 5-7% of video game characters in popular games and ads in America (Behm-Morawitz & Ortiz, 2013, p. 255). The history shows that most of the American films show them as villains because of their devious nature, intelligence, and martial arts skills. The mass media depicts the Asian men as typically asexual and undesirable. And, similarly, it presents the Asian women as “sexually desirable, passive, emotional, and irrational” than do their male counterparts (Behm-Morawitz & Ortiz, 2013, p. 254). But Asian representations are more frequent than of the other minority groups, but it still problematic. Given the infrequency with which Asians appear, this study expects to find out why there is a negative representation of Asian Americans across all media forms. The intention will be to determine their views about the detrimental and offensive ways the media portray them.

Such misrepresentation has always been questionable because of the contentious racial inclination. Much like the other minority groups, little research has focused on Native Americans and their underrepresentation in the media. They “represent less than 1% of the US TV,” and most of what people know about them comes from only a “few memorable portrayals in cartoons and movies” (Behm-Morawitz & Ortiz, 2013, p. 255). Most are of historical in nature. But two conflicting views of Native Americans are frequent in the media. Firstly, the stereotype of savage shows them as animal, aggressive, and uncivilized people. Secondly, some media portrayals depict them as “being wise, close to nature, and kind” (Behm-Morawitz & Ortiz, 2013, p. 255). This research hopes to fill this gap by finding out why the media representation of Native Americans remain being historical figures and different from the majority Americans.


The analysis of the representation of minority groups in the American media suggests that most racial/ethnic minorities remain underrepresented in comparison to the majority. Although overt racism practices have dramatically reduced over the last few decades, media stereotyping of minority groups remains problematic. This paper reveals that it is necessary to consider not only changes and differences across minority groups but also significant variations that exist in the representation based on the media and type of content to get an accurate picture of such under- or misrepresentation. The literature suggests that both the frequency and nature of the portrayals of minorities affect prejudicial responses.

The research has also revealed that stereotypes are the most pervasive forms of everyday discriminatory practices of the mass media. Media stereotyping can be either conscious or unconscious. Stereotypes frequently determine the ways the mass media treats minority groups and can indeed hinder their equal participation in the society as that of the majority whites. In the expression of an organized civil society, that challenges the spread of racism, stereotypical representation in the media is just one of the many interrelated discriminatory practices that disadvantage the minority groups.

It is necessary to study stereotypes and racism since they depict how the society views different social elements. It is also significant to have a thoughtful look at what the effects of these generalizations carry when the mass media communicates them to the public, and how the society thinks about them in different ways. It is arguably the most influential institution in American society today. As sources of both information and entertainment, the mass media often works as an omnipresent institution exercising their influence in a variety of ways. Therefore, chances of having a negative impact on minority groups are higher.

One of the main limitations of this study is the use of sampling when obtaining the primary data. It is time-consuming and requires detailed resources, especially when covering all elements used for the sample on the broad topic of representation through the media. There is also favoritism in that it does not provide the actual occurrence of such acts as racism, ethnicity, or stereotyping in real life. Future research needs to take into account the departmentalized issues that can affect the broad topic of mass media representation of minority groups in the country. It requires checking on contacts and environments deployed when societies involve in the communication process through media and other platforms.





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