Gábor Bernáth

Gábor Bernáth

  • Eötvös Loránd University
  • Department of Sociology, Doctoral School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Participant in 2013

Phd Projects


Power relations, social representations and mainstream media portrayals: The ’Gypsies’ in Hungary

The dissertation provides an analysis of the mainstream media portrayal of Roma communities, based on former research projects conducted with Vera Messing. During these projects we worked on samples from 1988, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2012, using a very similar research design in every project. This period of time provides the unique opportunity to examine persistent trends, changes, and core characteristics across disparate contexts.

This research is driven by the hypothesis that ‘mediatized’ Gypsies are representations strongly influenced by:
 the rules and practices of selection and representation in current news outlets;
 the social representations and the full range of interpretations held by the public and;
 the power discourses of politics and public policies that are. These discourses are maintained in a permanently changing discursive field influenced by those who have greater access to media.
 These discourses and strategies are deeply routed in the social representations of the general public in Central and Eastern Europe. Others are connected to a wider context, such as the criminalization of the poor, or the “new racism” based on ‘irreconcilable’ cultural differences.

This dissertation is grounded in critical discourse analysis, the theory of social representation and perspectives on constructive identities. The application of relevant theories leads us to a dynamic model of mass communication with performance at its center: creating identities, the creation of the Other, categorization, processes of production and decoding meanings.

The main topics of the dissertation:

1. Mainstream media portrayals: Main characteristics, topics, trends, specificities, 1988-2012
2. The background of media portrayals: Perspective on the theory of social representations and construction of identities
2.1.1. Majority attitudes and stereotypes on Gypsies
2.1.2. Creating the Other: Correspondences with self (in-group)portrayal
2.1.3. Communication agents, access to media, and its effect on portrayals
3. Gypsies created by political strategies: Perspectives on critical discourse-analysis
3.1. Political actors and their representational strategies on ‘Gypsies’
3.2. Portrayal and processes of representations made by public politics
3.2.1. Social policies: How poor became undeserved, and how the undeserved
poor became Gypsies? (1970-2012)
3.2.2. Institutional creation of ‘Gipsy criminality’: Data collection and the public
information system of the police forces (1974-2012)
3.2.3. Gypsy cultural characterization as explanations for structural problems:
From educational failures to inter-ethnic conflicts
3.3. Roma strategies to influence media portrayal
4. Media-processes
4.1. Production conditions: Links with the communities, consciousness on racism, etc.
4.2. News-making trends: From tabloidization to the web2 turn and their effects
4.3. Media-processes: Language and pictorial stereotypes, cross-categorization,
emotional and conceptual framing, etc.

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