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Negative Media Portrayal Of Religious Minorities Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 2784 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In this modern society, media can be seen in every corner of the world. At the same time, its influence is also touching on everything and every people of the world; no matter it is the majority or minorities. Comparing with the majority, minorities are disadvantage group. What is the media’s portrayal on religious minorities? Some people often stated that media just provide an overall negative portrayal of religious minorities. Is it true? This is also the main topic of this essay.

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For illustrating this topic clearly, first part of this paper will state about the concept of religious minorities through explaining the words of religious and minorities. Following it, it is a part about the media’s main features in the minorities’ area. With so many different cases and comparative analysis ways, this part will found that in the minorities’ area, the media’s language, content, mainstream value and channel all are different from the media’s transmitting in the majority area. Next part of this essay is the main topic of this paper, which will give the general portrayal of media on the religious minorities through quantitative approach and cases analysis. With all the above analysis in detail, the last part of this paper will tell about the conclusion of this topic. Through the different cases and quantitative approach, the author of this paper thought that although in the history of human being, media did not give enough attention on the religious minorities; while along with the time going, more and more people began concerning about this topic. What is more, media is also not just providing the negative portrayal to the religious minorities; it also brings the positive description to the religious minorities.

As a small essay, this paper mainly uses the case approach and quantitative approach, these two main methods to analyze the relative topics. Besides with these two methods, comparative analysis is another method which has been used in the whole paper’s editing and writing process.

Although this paper has been finished smoothly, there are still some limitations of this paper. Such as the studying areas are limited, just about the minorities in China and USA; the studying scope is not very comprehensive, just focus on religious theories transmitting and religious ceremonies’ hosting; while the minorities’ religious feeling as a hard topic to analyze with little data to reason or with little case to argue, this paper neglects it.

Even with these limitations, this paper still has some advantages to be read. For the following researchers, it will be a good reference in the cases and quantitative area to reason about the media’s influence on the religious minorities.

2.0 Discussion

2.1 Concept of religious minorities

For discussing about the media’s portrayal on religious minorities, the religious minorities should be explained first. It can be seen as the basement to understand the topic of this paper.

Religious is a part of culture phenomenon. It can be seen as a kind of society ideology. In most of the time, religion is seen as a kind of faith that people worship the God who exists supernaturally and has the supernatural power to control this world (Mircea Eliade. 1987). Besides with this type of definition toward the religion, some other people believes that religion also can be seen as a type of ceremony to worship some human being, who might exist in the history of human being. Comparing with the first God Religion, this can be called as Human Religion and the human religion is more rational. In this paper, the religion is defined as the God religion (Michael J. Breen, 2001).

Toward the God religion, there are more than ten types of religions in the whole world. The religion minorities refer to the religion those minorities’ trusting or believing.

No doubt it, minorities is a word comparing to the majorities. It is smaller than the majorities in the quantity. For example, in China, Han nationality is the majority, while Hui, Miao, Zang, Zhuang and so many other nationalities are the minorities toward Han (Yang Fuquan, 1998). In USA, White American is the majorities; Black, Asian and Hispanics are the minorities.

2.2 Definition of Media

After stating about the religion and minorities, this part will tell some basic contents of the media. Media is a carrier or a tooling of the information’s transmitting and spreading. It includes so many different types, such as newspaper, television, cinema, broadcasting, magazine, internet, books, advertisement etc. (Manoucheka Celeste, 2005).

No matter for human being’s living or for the society’s development, media does play great role and affect the outside heavily. Through different program or different articles, it changes human beings’ living gradually (James W. Carey, 2008). No doubt it, the mighty nationalities will play greater roles in the media area. This is decided by their positions in the media industry and their stronger cultures. Comparing with the mighty nationalities, minorities will sit in the poor situation. Their cultures cannot be described and reflected like the majorities in the media. Some people even said that media provides the negative portrayal on the minorities’ culture. Whether is it true? Following part will reason it through different cases and data

2.3 Media’s main features in the minorities’ area

Media widely exits in this world, not only in the majorities’ area but also in the minorities’ area. For illustrating the topic of this paper, over here, this paper will give some information about the media’s features in the minorities’ area.

Considering about profit and audience’s acceptance, media always put the majorities feeling in the first position. Most of time, media use the majorities’ language as the transmitting tooling. So many times, they did not consider about the minorities’ language. For example, in China, there are 16 channels. 14 channels of 16 are broadcasted with Chinese; 1 channel is broadcasted with English; another 1 is broadcasted with Spanish and French. There is even no channel broadcasted with the minorities’ language, even there are 55 other minorities in China. There even is not any channel broadcasted with their language of CCTV (Li Qin, 2005). Even like this, in the minorities’ living area, such as Tibet Autonomous State, the media are transmitted with both languages, one is the Tibetan language and the other one is Chinese.

Besides with the language, most of media put their main attention on the relative living, news or other cultures related with the majorities’, rarely mentioning the minorities, just like the past researchers said that even minorities are mentioned, they are represented as “others”. In the minorities’ area, although some of minorities’ living will be reported, most of times, the majorities living and culture is the main content. According to Turk, J.V., Richstad, .J, Bryson, R.L., Johnson, S.M.’s study in 1989, even in 6 cities of Southwest USA, Hispanic Americas takes up 20-65% population; there are only 10% local news related to the Hispanic Americas.

If the contents are rarely related with the minorities, let alone the minorities’ living values or religions. Sometimes even the religions are described; they are portrayed in a negative way, such as the outdated, benighted, savage or uncivilized etc. What is more, because of media’s widely reported about the majorities’ living, values and other cultures’ aspect, as one special civilization and culture in the world, the cultures of minorities are suffered widely and seriously assaulting (Larry Gross. 1998). With this situation, so many minorities civilization died away. Some minorities’ language even disappears in this diversity world.

Through the above statement, it can be found that media in the minorities’ area still focus on the relative topics about the majorities. Following this question, next part will put it’s emphasize on media’s portrayal on the religious minorities.

2.4 Media portrayal of religious minorities

2.4.1 Media’s positive portrayal of religious minorities

In these days, media penetrate into every aspect of human being’s daily life. It has widely and deeply affection on the religious of minorities. This part will give a statement about the media’s positive portrayal of religious minorities.

Introducing new elements into religious minorities

Just as stated in the above part, media put their main attention on publicizing about the majorities living style, living value and other news. At the same time, the information of the media is always about the newest alternation of human being and with the lively culture factor about the special time’s moral standard, social values and so on. When these different factors are portrayal into the minorities’ daily living, No doubt it, it will affect the minorities’ life in every aspect. Religious of minorities are one part of it.

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Just as we know, different nation has different religious. With media’s widely publicizing about the majorities’ religious, the elements of majorities religious have been introduced into the minorities. More or less, these elements will affect some aspect of minorities’ religions, such as the content of religious, style of religious or the degree of religious (Zlatiborka Popov Momcinovic. 2008). With these affections, it will promote the minorities’ agreement on the mainstream value. For example, when the media are rarely thing in the society, Guangxi of China is a region living with so many different nations such as Zhuang, Han, Tong, Miao, Yao. At that time, different nations’ religions are really different with each other. Along with the media’s coming into the daily life, because of Han, the majority nation’s mainstream living value’s spreading, now the differences between different nations are becoming little and little, especially in their religions. There is an investigation into different nations in Guangzhou. More than 50% minorities’ people thought that their religions have changed largely in the last 30 years (Bai Runsheng, Zhang Xian. 2004). The main elements affecting their religions are the media’s widely publicizing about Han nation’s living style.

Bring back the visitors into the Minorities Region

Because of the economic development, more and more people have the time and money to travel in the new and strange culture areas. For meeting people’s searching toward the new culture and different living conditions, media will search for the minorities’ cultures, and religious of minorities are one part attracting media’ eyes. New visitors will come into the minorities’ area following with media’s publicizing about the minorities’ religions. Then more and more attention will be paid about the minorities. This will bring back with wealth life and better material condition. Sometimes it may attract government’s eyes to invest into here and modify the relative hardware architecture. At the same time, in the modern world, more and more governments begin to care about the special culture landscape of the minorities. They will protect about the minorities’ religions (Stephanie Greco Larson. 2006). All of these will give better conditions for the minorities’ religious’ development.

Although like this, more and more people thought that the media have heavily negative impact on the minorities’ religions. For example, the relative customs change gradually; the living manners and habits are also varied; the traditional cultures are vanishing step by step. All of these make the minorities’ religious walk into disappear direction. Following part will give an analysis about the negative portray of media on minorities’ religions.


2.4.2 Media’s negative portrayal of religious minorities

Just as stated in the above part, religion is the trust of one special group of people. It can be one virtual God or a special Totem. But its essence is a type of thought or living value. In the subjective aspect, it shows out as the spiritual activities and it is also hard to be observed and investigated. But it is also can be found out in the daily life of that group of people, such as their living customs, habits, the special arts and so on. It is hard to find and catch its changing in a short time if just reading about its spiritual activities. But those objective aspects of the daily life are easily to be caught up (Bradley S. Greenberg, Jeffrey E. Brand. 1998). This part will put it’s emphasize on the relative negative portrayal of religious minorities through the objective aspects.

Living customs changing

Religions penetrate into the daily living. It can be seen from different living styles. For example, the ceremony in the festival time and the relative inner side meaning of the festivals; the bury style etc. all of these are the indicative factors of the minorities’ religions. If they are disappearing, no doubt it, the religions’ inner sense will also run away. With media’s publicizing, so many minorities change their attitudes toward the marriage and busy. Bai Ku Yao, as one minority, before the middle of 1990s, they chose their spouse through singing, but now it is hardly to find this type of marriage over there (Yang Fuquan. 1998). This means the special religion is vanished along with media’s publicizing about the freedom love.

Traditional cultures vanishing

Comparing with other information transmission tooling, media have high technique factors and it can inject into its own thought in the spreading process about the national cultures. Some people describe the media as one outside force of promoting one culture’s changing. Especially in the multiple nations’ area, media have strong factors about the majorities’ culture, especially when the minorities do not have its own national character; the affection of media is stronger and stronger. In China, there is one apparent case. Jinuo nation is a minority in China, while in the long time development; it did not have its own character. The television program in Jinuo area only speaks Chinese. This makes more and more Jinuo people give up their own language and their own traditional cultures. Some people predicated that Jinuo language will disappear in the following 50 years (Yang Fuquan. 1998). Along with the language disappearing, the traditional living habits will also be vanishing. No doubt it, the religion of them also cannot be seen when that time is coming. Also as an investigation in Guangxi, about 80% minorities use Chinese in the daily life; and 27.5% minorities express their careless and indifferent attitudes toward their own nations’ traditional art, dance, poem, diet and other living habits. Some others even said that they do not love or identify these habits (Bai Runsheng, Zhang Xian. 2004). These numbers can tell the strong impact of media on the minorities’ religions.

Minorities’ art disappear

One nation’s art always tells their attitudes toward their essence of the culture. It is the carrier and spreading tooling of their special national cultures and religions (M Rushton, 2003). Along with the media widely publicizing, the culture essence of the art are represented by the commercialized meaning.

3.0 Conclusion

Summing up the above contents, it can be concluded that media is really a very important factor affect the minorities religions. It is not only a negative portray about the minorities religions, but also a positive one. Between these two aspects which one stays in the stronger position? This question has different answer at different time. At the beginning stage of the media coming into the minorities, the negative influence is the main aspect. With the more development, more and more people or organizations began recognizing the importance to protect the culture’s diversity characters. This makes the media reflect more and more positive portray on the minorities religions.


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