Research confirms that the media play a role for our views of reality, especially when we do not have much experience of our own.
The aim of this project proposal is to get deeper knowledge of the media discourses on material and ethnic gaps, and which relationships these discourses, in interplay with other social factors, have to people’s ideas of such basic social processes.
Overriding questions are: How do the media illuminate and explain people’s uneven material resources and ethnic positions? How do the media discourses tally with people’s notions of the material and ethnic gaps in society and the causes of these gaps? How are these notions connected with the individuals’ own material resources and ethnic belonging?
‘Material resources’ refer to all things that concern the individual’s material existence, such as food, clothes, place to live, health care, etc. – in today’s society measured by means of economic indicators. Hardly any studies have sought to analyse the media discourses on – and their connections to people’s ideas of – inequality regarding material resources (i.e., material gaps), including the reasons for such inequality.
Material gaps have a strong relationship with ethnic gaps. Much research has illustrated how “the others” are represented in the media, but research on how the relationship between material and ethnic gaps are understood and explained in the media is meagre.
The questions will be answered by analyses of media discourses in St Petersburg and Stockholm.
Qualitative group interviews with inhabitants in the two cities on their notions of material resources and ethnicity aim to supplement the analyses. The choice of cities is motivated by the fact that both are cultural capitals with similar geographical location at the Baltic Sea, at the same time as they have very different historical, economic, political and cultural conditions. The comparison therefore contributes to more solid conclusions.
Another aim of the suggested project is to deepen and widen our cooperation with Russian researchers and elaborate a theoretical and methodological basis for future projects, where also other countries with relevance in a Baltic and East European perspective would be included.
The project is expected to contribute to new knowledge and hypotheses about the media’s import for the reproduction of ideas of two tightly integrated societal processes, material and ethnic gaps.