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Communication Dans Un Congrès Année : 2013

Immigration in prime time spanish television. Pathways towards inferring modern racism from content analysis


This paper presents the analysis of the image of immigration in television fiction based on both Cultivation Theory and previous studies about the representation of ethnic and immigrant minorities in television fiction (Greenberg, Mastro & Brand, 2002). Empirical probe has contrasted that the media exercise a meaningful effect in perceiving one's social world. On the field of television and through Cultivation Theory, George Gerbner and his collaborators have laid the foundations for a line of research that has consistently tested that fictional audiovisual contents influence decisively on the beliefs about one's social world in a wide range of fields and aspects (Morgan, Shanahan & Signorelli, 2009; Sanahan & Morgan, 1999). Because of this, there has been much insistence in the necessity of analyzing or monitoring the degree of diversity present in television programs and their contents, especially the impact that they may exert on audiences (Koeman, Peeters & D'Haenes, 2007).In this context, study of the content analysis in fictional TV shows has determined that characters belonging to ethnic and immigrant minorities are usually underrepresented and subject to a distorted and stereotypical portrait (Greenberg, Mastro & Brand, 2002; Harwood & Anderson, 2002; Mastro & Behm-Morawitz, 2005; Mastro & Greenberg, 2000; Mastro, y Robinson, 2000). For example, it has been confirmed that, in the United States of America, Latino characters comprised 3.9% of the total number, albeit they are the biggest minority in the country with a 12.5% (Mastro & Behm-Morawitz, 2005). Furthermore, in their content analysis study of television in the Netherlands, Koeman et al. (2007) evidenced that there was underrepresentation of immigrants even though there is much social diversity in the country. Nevertheless, empirical research in Spain is practically non-existent as to how immigration in television fiction is depicted, even though: (a) the latter is one of the main ingredients in prime time television; (b) there is a very high density of this kind of shows in the grid; and (c) audiovisual fiction has a great reach and impact on audiences.A main object of this study is linked to the analysis of diversity in television fiction concerning immigration, an aspect that, up to this date, has consistently and systematically been set aside in Spain (and, to a limit, in Europe and the USA). This analysis is partly justified because Spain has changed from being an emigrant to an immigrant country -nowadays the percentage of incomers is 12.2% (INE, 2011), which has led to an eruption of xenophobic reactions and attitudes in certain social sectors (Cea D'Ancona & Valles, 2010). Secondly, the research here presented analyzed the representation or image of immigrants in television fiction shown in prime time national television so as to contribute to the knowledge of media stereotypes about immigrants. In order to do that, a content analysis study was carried out on a cross-section of the prime time fiction shown in 2010 in the six main Spanish TV channels (TVE1, La 2, Antena 3, Cuatro, Telecinco and La Sexta), taking the characters (n= 1.345) as analysis units, and also aggregated analysis units such as the television program (n =88). For the analysis of television programs and characters, a code-book was used which included 55 variables grouped in 9 sections. Coding was carried out by 4 analysts with Audiovisual Communication and Research education and training. Intercoder reliability was satisfactory (observer agreement = .86; Scott's Pi = .65).It could be observed that there was underrepresentation of foreign/immigrant characters in Spanish productions, since they comprised only a 7.8%, instead of the 12.2% of foreign/immigrants in Spanish society (INE, 2011). Additionally, as compared to national/native characters, foreigners/immigrants had a lower level of education, more unstable jobs (or ones that involved felony or criminal acts), showing a more violent conduct, bearing more violent acts, and were usually defined as less efficient from a cognitive point of view. These results are relevant because of the low presence of foreign/immigrant characters, especially in Spanish productions. That is, the lack of diversity in television fiction, can determine their social visibility or vitality and therefore their perceived social status or strength; moreover, it hinders the establishment of parasocial vicarious contact of the native population with people from other nations that have a remarkable presence in Spanish society (Harwood & Anderson, 2002; Ortiz & Hardwood, 2007). According to the parasocial vicarious contact hypothesis, more vicarious or media contact with exogroup members in a favorable contexts increases both the knowledge towards that exogroup and feelings of trust and respect. However, the stereotypical and negative image shown of foreigners-immigrants makes this positive parasocial vicarious contact difficult and, quite the opposite, may intensify prejudicial attitudes towards incomers, which should be contrasted in future research.
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Dates et versions

hal-00826092 , version 1 (26-05-2013)
hal-00826092 , version 2 (22-07-2013)
hal-00826092 , version 3 (29-10-2013)


  • HAL Id : hal-00826092 , version 3


Juan-José Igartua, Isabel Barrios, Felix Ortega, Emma Camarero. Immigration in prime time spanish television. Pathways towards inferring modern racism from content analysis. Communiquer dans un monde de normes. L'information et la communication dans les enjeux contemporains de la " mondialisation "., Mar 2012, France. pp.325. ⟨hal-00826092v3⟩


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