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Black and white, male and female: Racial and Gender Differences in Adolescents' TV Diets
Unformatted Document Text:  Black and White 4 through content and advertising. The force in society that once acted to bring people together, now works to reinforce the differences that keep them apart” (pp. 260-261). Thus, television may no longer be the glue that kept the melting pot together but rather may be “a new form of segregation” (Salamon, 2002). In this paper we consider to what extent television is serving as a form of common culture or as a form of segregation for young adolescents. We look at what kinds of television worlds Black and White, Male and Female adolescents are living in. Is the world so fragmented and specialized that there is little in common, or is it a world in which racial and gender differences are less important than they were in the past? Literature Review Adolescents and the Media Steele and Brown (1995) and Steele (1999) proposed a model of adolescent’s media practice that suggested that identity formation was a key motivation in the selection of, attention to, and interpretation of media. They theorized that as adolescents take on the developmental task of creating a sense of self, they may use the media as sources of models. Building on the Media Practice Model, Brown and Witherspoon (2001) proposed a model of teens’ media diets, focused on the differential selection of media among adolescents. They theorized that adolescents will select media with the goal of creating a sense of self in which they are sometimes like all other members of their age cohort, sometimes like only some of their peers, and sometimes like no one else. They predicted that some of the variance in choice will be explained by basic social positions, such as gender and class, such that girls would choose different television shows than boys and Blacks would choose different television shows than Whites. They also predicted, however, that some shows would be watched by all teens, regardless of race or gender, and those shows could be considered the “common teen culture.” That proposition has not been tested empirically since the segmentation of the television market.

Authors: Brown, Jane. and Pardun, Carol J.
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background image
Black and White
4
through content and advertising. The force in society that once acted to bring people together, now
works to reinforce the differences that keep them apart” (pp. 260-261).
Thus, television may no longer be the glue that kept the melting pot together but rather
may be “a new form of segregation” (Salamon, 2002). In this paper we consider to what extent
television is serving as a form of common culture or as a form of segregation for young
adolescents. We look at what kinds of television worlds Black and White, Male and Female
adolescents are living in. Is the world so fragmented and specialized that there is little in common,
or is it a world in which racial and gender differences are less important than they were in the past?
Literature Review
Adolescents and the Media
Steele and Brown (1995) and Steele (1999) proposed a model of adolescent’s media
practice that suggested that identity formation was a key motivation in the selection of, attention to,
and interpretation of media. They theorized that as adolescents take on the developmental task of
creating a sense of self, they may use the media as sources of models. Building on the Media
Practice Model, Brown and Witherspoon (2001) proposed a model of teens’ media diets, focused
on the differential selection of media among adolescents. They theorized that adolescents will
select media with the goal of creating a sense of self in which they are sometimes like all other
members of their age cohort, sometimes like only some of their peers, and sometimes like no one
else. They predicted that some of the variance in choice will be explained by basic social
positions, such as gender and class, such that girls would choose different television shows than
boys and Blacks would choose different television shows than Whites. They also predicted,
however, that some shows would be watched by all teens, regardless of race or gender, and those
shows could be considered the “common teen culture.” That proposition has not been tested
empirically since the segmentation of the television market.


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