Violent Media Images as Socializing Agents: An Analysis of Role Models
AdvisorWhite Stewart, Mary
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Socialization begins at the time of birth and continues throughout the life span, with some of the most formative years being those of pre-adolescence and adolescence. During this time, children typically distance themselves from the influence of their parents and seek role models whom they wish to emulate. Advancements in technology have led to subsequent increases in rates of media consumption, especially by youths. Through the increased use and access of media sources, pre-adolescents and adolescents have greater access to their role models. Research has shown that observing violent media images correlates with subsequent aggressive behavior, as well as the formation of beliefs regarding violence and gender inequality in relationships, which are formed during pre-adolescence and adolescence. During adolescence identity formation takes place and the child chooses to either reject certain beliefs or incorporate those beliefs into their identities; if the child incorporates violence beliefs of acceptance, they are more likely to be accepting of the violence in an abusive relationship. This paper examines the current literature regarding socialization and the importance of role models during the socialization process as background to understanding the potential effects of violent media images to pre-adolescent and adolescent girls. The current study looks at two specific image sets of current role models to pre-adolescent and adolescent girls, as the subjects in scenes of violence. By breaking down these images, according to a modified version of Lacey’s (1998) model, the current study attempts to extrapolate the representative meaning of the image sets. The modified version of Lacey’s (1998) model of formal aspects and their meanings will be applied to violent media images of role models to assess the messages received by preadolescent and adolescent girls from these images.