Originating from George Gerbner in the 1960s, the cultivation theory hypothesizes that repeated and lengthy exposure to media influences social reality and perceptions. For instance, people watching television risk perceiving the real world as a reflection of the messages advanced by television programs. Another aspect of the cultivation theory is that heavy media consumers develop a homogeneous perception of the world when mainstreaming and resonance occur. Today, mainstreaming is a common occurrence and Western media dominates many people or regions across the globe. Resonance occurs when media messages coincide with the lived experiences of the consumers, creating a one-sided world view. The paper is a brief report of some of the relevant research articles that inform on the media effects of cultivation in the African American community.
In this article, the author defines cultivation as a sociocultural theory where television viewership shapes the beliefs, attitudes, and values of viewers. If the world of television did portray an accurate view of the real world, then media would have a little independent impact on perceptions (Schrum, 2017). Schrum further emphasizes that the world of television is different from the real world in systemic ways. An example is that the media world is more violent than the real world. Another example of the difference between the real world and the world projected in television is that the television world overrepresents wealth, affluence, materialism, and consumption. These unrealistic world perceptions, notwithstanding the positive influences of media on society, are problematic because they create unrealistic societal expectations. Schrum’s article is vital to the current study because it provides an overview of the nature and processes of the cultivation theory.
Prolonged exposure to media exposes individuals to information that depicts certain social groups stereotypically. Stereotypes of African Americans resulting from the natural consequence of legal challenges to citizenship, personhood, and scientific racism. Some of the common stereotyped perceptions date as far as the slavery period, depicting African Americans as backward, lazy, and dishonest (Arendt & Northup, 2015). In this article, the authors hypothesized that long-term repeated exposure to such information through influences viewers' implicit attitudes and may be used as a justification for explicit attitudes. Article two agrees with article one that the cultivation theory can explain the prevalence of stereotypes against African Americans in media content. Therefore, the article is suitable for the current study because it provides a specific issue where media cultivation's effects are profound with a minority group on the receiving end. In conjunction with the article, the article provides evidence to support the argument that media's cultural effect can be detrimental to social progress in diversified societies like the United States.
Article 3 relies on the cultivation theory, as discussed in article one, in explaining how African Americans perceive people of Arab origin. Articles two affirms that African Americans are victims of stereotyped perception in the American media. Therefore, it would be expected that the community will have non-stereotyped perceptions of other groups like the Arab community based on how the American media portrays a gross misinterpretation of the Arab World. Melhem and Punyanunt-Carter (2019) found that college students have predominantly negative views about Arabs on television. For most participants, the media, news, and television were the main source of information about the Arab world and the participants reported that news, television, and media were the top three primary sources of perceptions of the Arab world. The definition of mainstreaming and resonance in the introduction explains why most Americans hold these stereotypes against the Arab world (Melhem and Punyanunt-Carter, 2019). African Americans are guilty of holding negative attitudes towards Arabs, making the article vital for the current study because it provides a deeper understanding of media cultivation's effects on the African American community.
In this article, the author observes that the news media has a biased representation of cases involving African Americans either as victims or perpetrators of crime and police brutality. Even when guilty of heinous crimes, white news subjects received a more forgiving treatment by both the mainstream news organizations and law enforcement agencies. Adesanya (2017) alludes to the combination of media theory and cultivation theory to show that the new media displays bias by framing issues concerning minority groups different from framing issues in the Whites community (Adesanya, 2017). The misinterpretation's key outcomes in the African American community lack of trust in news organizations and security agencies. Therefore, this article is vital for the study because it discusses how African Americans are portrayed in the media in crime issues. The article emphasizes the perception that media has influenced racial relations in the country by enhancing stereotypes similar to outcomes of articles two and three. This affirms the importance of the article to study because it provides vital information related to media effects of cultivation.
A key argument in article 4 is that the biased interpretation of African Americans' issues has resulted in mistrust for government institutions. As suggested in the introduction section, the prevalence of mistrust with the African American community result from mainstreaming and resonance. Since Whites heavily influence the American media, African Americans are often exposed to news and information that paints them different in ownership and control. In this article, Choi and Lee (2020) found a significant interaction effect between audience characteristic and media measures. Therefore, it is vital to consider individual experiences and characteristics in understanding media perceptions of police (Choi & Lee, 2020). The article is important for the current study because it supports the hypothesis that resonance and mainstreaming shape the police's perception. Therefore, the study explains the prevalence of mistrust between police departments and members of the African American community.
Understanding the cultivation theory process forms the foundation upon which media cultivation effects on African Americans can be discussed. The theory assumes that media produces a restricted set of choices for a virtually unrestricted audience. Furthermore, media programming's content is remarkably similar to the extent that even elective viewers receive the same messages as non-selective viewers. The assumptions have been questioned extensively, especially regarding the diversification of media sources through technological advancement. Some of the problems experienced in society result from the effects of media cultivation on African Americans. The articles identified present comprehensive information about the topic, and highlights the major sources of stereotypes regarding certain social groups. The author utilizes different methodologies to highlight essential issues related to media cultivation and its potential impacts. The African American community has been impacted in various ways through media cultivation, an aspect affirmed by the different articles cited.
Adesanya, F. A. (2017). In-group effects of news use on African Americans. LSU Master's Theses. 4526. https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5527&context=gradschool_theses
Arendt, F., & Northup, T. (2015). Effects of long-term exposure to news stereotypes on implicit and explicit attitudes. International Journal of Communication, 9, 2370–2390. https://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/2691/1325
Choi, J., & Lee, D. R. (2020). Media use habits, negative encounters with the police, and perceptions of the Police: the mainstreaming hypothesis versus the resonance hypothesis. Criminal Justice Studies, 1-20. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1478601X.2020.1736827
Melhem, S., & Punyanunt-Carter, N. M. (2019). Using cultivation theory to understand American college students’ perceptions of Arabs in the media. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 39(2), 259-271. https://doi.org/10.1080/13602004.2019.1625258
Shrum, L. J. (2017). Cultivation theory: Effects and underlying processes. The International Encyclopedia of Media Effects, 1-12. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781118783764.wbieme0040
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