Explicating the Enigma Through the Cultural Lens: Media Stereotyping as a “Ritual”

Miki Tanikawa


Media, communication, and cultural scholars have repeatedly criticized news media’s enactment of cultural stereotypes. While their criticism has merits, it rests on the view that communication is about facts and information, leaving scholarship clueless as to why stereotyping by the media continues. This qualitative study, which complements previously executed quantitative investigations, probed well-known, well-worn media stereotypes over a 30-year period and argues that the recurrent use of national clichés in the news media is indicative of the “ritual” function of communication; through this lens, we may begin to understand the underlying logic behind such unreflexive, repetitive, and often demeaning nature of cultural stereotyping. The study’s broader implication in the new, digitalized information environment plagued by repetition of misinformation is discussed.



stereotype, repetition, ritual view of communication, James Carey, cultural theories, social psychology

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