Journalism, representation and the public sphere

Title chapter:Socialist feminism and media studies. An outdated theory or contemporary debate?
Author:Georgina Newton
Keywords: feminism; media; class; socialism; gender; intersectionality; equality; fourth-wave
Abstract:'You've come a long way, baby' may be the message to feminist media scholars today. Developments in recent decades such as the recently emerging fourth wave feminist movements, self-proclaimed post-feminist heroines within media texts, the 1990s 'girl power' imply concepts and theories from second and third wave feminism are outdated and passe. However, this chapter argues media studies needs and desire critiques, such as those offered by socialist feminism. Socialist feminism attempts to 'marry' Marxism and Feminism, and theoretically examines and challenges concepts such as patriarchy and capitalism, thus offering a challenge to the white, middle class, male dominated media industry. This enables theorists to confront the media texts, messages, and wider power imbalances the ideologies within the media reinforce (Couldry, 2000: 8). The chapter initially examines the origins and criticisms of early socialist feminism and then the more recent developments, such as the disregard for class in the 1980s and 1990s and problematic notion of essentialism. Drawing on these developments, engaging with intersectionality (Crenshaw 1989, in Nash, 2008: 2), and examining media representations of class, this chapter argues socialist feminism remains an important critique within the media studies academic field. Socialist feminism should no longer be seen as the theoretical territory of white working class females, rather it should acknowledge all women that are subjected to the capitalist and patriarchal media.
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