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Rearticulating Resistance as Concept in the Field of Media Studies: A Case Study on the Resistance Against Hegemonic Gender Identities in Popular Visual Culture
Unformatted Document Text:  Rearticulating resistance as concept in the field of media studies: a case study on the resistance against hegemonic gender identities in popular visual culture. Introduction Understanding marginalisation, as sphere of resistance in the emancipatory project is important, and it is imperative also to study the non-hegemonic elements in present-day Western society. The late modernity is not only characterised by consumerism and commodification, but also by the abundant consumption of media, and in particular visual media representations. The question therefore arises whether the discursive articulations of gender bending in the popular visual culture, and more in particular in music videos, are anti-hegemonic representations that question the dominant gender identities, and could thus be seen as resistance. We can pose the question about the processes of attributing meaning on different levels within the media sphere. Meanings not only circulate within the production, but also in die mass media discourse. In addition attributing meaning is very important on the reception level or the level of the recipient. We find gender bending as resistance discourse in a number of academic texts (see Stone, 1991; Smelik, 1993) where a very positive evaluation is made of these representations on theoretical grounds based on discourse in the mass media, but up to the present no academic study has been undertaken on the practices of attributing meaning by the recipient. Others, such as Laurence Grossberg (1984), say the opposite by pointing out that because of the crisis in rock ’n roll, no pleasure, and in particular no radical resistance, is possible in the present popular culture. These opposing academic discourses are based on poststructuralist theorising, but they ignore the different levels where, depending on the context, meanings are constructed. Moreover, theorising about resistance is often extremely dichotomous, and all too often the concept is idealised and conceptualised beyond the boundaries of the specific modern context of the media machine. Resistance as concept can be regarded as a ‘free-floating signifier’, and thus there is a need for a conceptualisation of this concept on both theoretical and empirical level. Resistance as concept is applied on the discourse of gender bending in the contemporary popular visual culture. In this article we not only add to the theorising about resistance and the popular visual culture, but we also empirically apply the conceptualisations about resistance. In the empirical study we examine how gender bending is manifested on the level of representation and reception in the

Authors: Van Bauwel, Sofie.
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Rearticulating resistance as concept in the field of media studies: a case study on the
resistance against hegemonic gender identities in popular visual culture.
Introduction
Understanding marginalisation, as sphere of resistance in the emancipatory project is important,
and it is imperative also to study the non-hegemonic elements in present-day Western society.
The late modernity is not only characterised by consumerism and commodification, but also by
the abundant consumption of media, and in particular visual media representations. The
question therefore arises whether the discursive articulations of gender bending in the popular
visual culture, and more in particular in music videos, are anti-hegemonic representations that
question the dominant gender identities, and could thus be seen as resistance. We can pose the
question about the processes of attributing meaning on different levels within the media sphere.
Meanings not only circulate within the production, but also in die mass media discourse. In
addition attributing meaning is very important on the reception level or the level of the
recipient. We find gender bending as resistance discourse in a number of academic texts (see
Stone, 1991; Smelik, 1993) where a very positive evaluation is made of these representations
on theoretical grounds based on discourse in the mass media, but up to the present no academic
study has been undertaken on the practices of attributing meaning by the recipient. Others, such
as Laurence Grossberg (1984), say the opposite by pointing out that because of the crisis in
rock ’n roll, no pleasure, and in particular no radical resistance, is possible in the present
popular culture.
These opposing academic discourses are based on poststructuralist theorising, but they ignore
the different levels where, depending on the context, meanings are constructed. Moreover,
theorising about resistance is often extremely dichotomous, and all too often the concept is
idealised and conceptualised beyond the boundaries of the specific modern context of the media
machine. Resistance as concept can be regarded as a ‘free-floating signifier’, and thus there is a
need for a conceptualisation of this concept on both theoretical and empirical level. Resistance
as concept is applied on the discourse of gender bending in the contemporary popular visual
culture.
In this article we not only add to the theorising about resistance and the popular visual culture,
but we also empirically apply the conceptualisations about resistance. In the empirical study we
examine how gender bending is manifested on the level of representation and reception in the


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