Rhetorical, Textual, or Source Analysis worksheet
Write a short, clear summary of the article:
This article tackles the problem of unhealthy self-esteem among women allegedly caused by media-generated concepts of femininity and how best to confront this problem, which is through social activism and social marketing. It is fuelled by the results of numerous studies which suggest a strong link between the portrayal of unrealistic images of women in the media and the increasing tendency towards unhealthy eating and dieting behaviours of women.
What is the context of the article?
In “The Media’s Influence on Body Image Disturbance and Eating Disorders: We’ve Reviled Them, Now Can We Rehabilitate Them,” Thomson and Heinberg (1999) illuminate the growing concern among the American women population on the adverse impact of images portrayed in the mass-media on the self-perception and self-esteem of women who are exposed and vulnerable to subscribing to media-generated conceptions of femininity that have been linked to the increasingly unhealthy lifestyles taken up by more and more girls and women.
What seems to be the author’s purpose?
The authors discuss the mechanism by which the media is able to influence the lifestyle patterns of women in the aim of identifying ways by which girls and women would be able to resist or combat the ill-effects of media images on their behavioural, psychological, and physical health. They present a relevant perspective on how women can counter the psychological manoeuvres of the mass media.
In what type of publication did this appear? Describe it.
The article appeared in the academic “Journal of Social Issues,” a quarterly publication which publishes contributions from social scientists and academics that tackle the relationship between society and human beings and issues that arise from this. The journal is published by Blackwell Publishing in behalf of The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.
Write a brief analysis of the author’s credentials and possible expertise or bias. If no information is available on the author, try to take a guess based upon his or her knowledge and writing ability, which you might derive from the article.
Thomson and Heinberg (1999) are obviously academic experts in the field of psychology who have extensively studied the impact of media-mediated concepts on the feminine psyche. In fact, the result of their own research on the effect of media images on the self-esteem and self-concept of women was among the evidence they presented in the article.
Who seems to be the target audience? Be specific.
Judging from the language and tone of the article, the authors’ target audience are policymakers, development workers, and academic researchers. Here, Thomson and Heinberg (1999) clearly advocate for the creation and implementation of education-based programs that would benefit women by arming them with the knowledge to decipher the subliminal messages they are often bombarded with through advertisements and other forms of media.
In short outline form, show the author’s stance. Then, explain and evaluate the presentation of the author’s stance. In other words, what’s the thesis? What reasons are given for this stance? Are the reasons supported well?
The authors contend that social activism will encourage women to be active in challenging the social structures that profit from and reinforce the prevailing social biases and gender stereotypes of women, while social marketing will teach women not only to pursue the demystification of the “feminine ideal” but more importantly, in the generation of positive and realistic concepts of being women.
The article therefore summarizes the results of recent research which support the contention that the mass media is one of the biggest source of poor self-concept and self-confidence for women, and proposes the combination of two-strategies, social activism and social marketing, that would enable women to counter the concept of the “feminine ideal” portrayed in the media—that of the thin, airbrushed, and computer-generated model—by empowering them to see through this images and helping them develop a multi-dimensional concept of being a woman.
Analyze the writer’s language. What is the writer’s tone? Why might he or she have chosen this tone? Is it effective? What words are defined or left undefined? Give examples.
The writer’s language is formal and academic, which might have been chosen because its target audience are those from the academe such as social scientists and intellectuals. It effectively conveys the weight of the problem at hand and lends seriousness to the discussion of the solutions presented.
Based upon your analysis, is this a credible piece of writing? Explain.
Yes, because it presents extensive evidence to its claim gained from years of academic research by social scientists interested in the issue. While the authors have recognized that a direct link between the images propagated by the media vis-à-vis women’s self-esteem has yet to be proven, the article manages to support its contention in an ample manner by showing how media images, even indirectly, shapes the way women think, consume, and behave. In turn, its argument of using the media itself to turn things around becomes more convincing and relevant especially for women and other sectors involved.
Finally, and in detail (really think about this—refer to specifics) how do the stance and language choices relate to the author’s purpose and target audience? Explain.
This article is written in a persuasive manner, and shows the authors’ capability to use relevant information to support their thesis. It is also written in a way that could be understood best by development practitioners and students of the social sciences, which is suited with its intention of convincing those who might be involved in advocacy or policy-making to seriously address the rise in the number of weight-related issues affecting women that is attributed to the pervasive influence of the media.
Thomson, J. Kevin, and Heinberg, Leslie J. “The Media’s Influence on Body Image Disturbance and Eating Disorders: We’ve Reviled Them, Now Can We Rehabilitate Them?” Journal of Social Issues, 55.2(1999):339-353.