Visualizing teens and technology: A social semiotic analysis of stock photography and news media imagery

Thurlow, Crispin; Aiello, Georgia; Portmann, Lara (2019). Visualizing teens and technology: A social semiotic analysis of stock photography and news media imagery. New media & society, 22(3), pp. 528-549. Sage 10.1177/1461444819867318

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Previous research on verbal representations shows how the news media consistently depicts young people’s uses of digital media in a narrow, negative light. In this article, we present an innovative methodology for demonstrating how young people and their digital practices are visually depicted. We focus on stock photography produced by the commercial image banks which source the news media with much of its imagery. Following an indicative analysis of news media images, we present a social semiotic analysis (grounded also in a descriptive content analysis) of a dataset of 600 stock photos top-sliced from three major image banks. By pinpointing dominant representational, compositional and interpersonal meanings, we show how image banks and, in turn, the news media produce a rather pessimistic metadiscursive framing of ‘teens and technology’. These influential visualizations are often reductionistic – consistently centering technologies over relationships; they are also problematic in, for example, their inexplicably gendered and classist assumptions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Modern English Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Thurlow, Crispin; Aiello, Georgia and Portmann, Lara

Subjects:

400 Language
400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages

ISSN:

1461-7315

Publisher:

Sage

Language:

English

Submitter:

Fabienne Blaser

Date Deposited:

24 Mar 2020 11:49

Last Modified:

03 Jul 2020 14:28

Publisher DOI:

10.1177/1461444819867318

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/140465

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