AIAS Lunch Seminar 3 May - Dorota Lepianka - AIAS

More or less strangers. Social distance to the old, the young, the ethnic and the non-ethnic Dutch as reflected in news media reporting

Day: Thursday 3 May
Time: 12.15 – 13.15 hrs.
Location: AIAS, 3rd floor, M building, Plantage Muidergracht 12, Amsterdam
Registration: Please send an email, preferably before Tuesday 1 May, 12.00 hrs. to register.
A sandwich will then be provided.


The readiness of the individual to engage in pro-social or solidary behavior is determined, among others, by their perception of the potential beneficiaries. Individuals and groups who do not enjoy a favorable opinion are more readily blamed for their neediness and seen as undeserving of assistance. It is frequently claimed that people’s perceptions of various social groups (and especially minorities) are reinforced, if not shaped, by the media portrayal of those groups – predominantly because of lack direct contact and exchange between the various social groups and ensuing reliance on hear-say and the media as main sources of knowledge. Indeed, the role of the media in contemporary societies is hard to ignore. By providing information on society at large, “media voice current norms and values and present an image of life in a particular society”, thus helping to establish and maintain the relations, including solidarity relations, between the various social groups, such as between the young and the old or between the native majority and ethnic minorities (Peeters and d’Haegens 2005). Media may also disturb the formation or maintenance of such relations, e.g. by reinforcing the “othering” of the out-groups members. The processes of distancing or “othering” include, among others, denial of the visibility of the Other, refusal to acknowledge the voice and knowledge of the Other, generalized and homogenized presentation of the Other and, last but not least, negative or unfavorable evaluation of the Other. The paper discussed shows how those various aspects of “othering” are applied by Dutch news media with respect to the old and the two sub-groups of the young – the ethnic and the non-ethnic Dutch. The results of the study reveal minor differences in the presentation of the (autochthon) old and the (autochthon) young, yet considerable differences in the presentation of the allochthon and autochthon youth. In comparison to allochthon actors, autochthon characters are awarded a more prominent position in the news, enjoy a more heterogeneous presentation and a more positive overall evaluation.

The presenter:

D.A. (Dorota) Lepianka
Postdoc researcher
Tel : 020 525 7205
Fax : 020 525 4301

Click here for an overview of all lunch seminars from January – July 2012

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