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Title: Women, democracy, and media: An exploration of the Indian cultural context.
Authors: Bathla, Sonia
Award date: 1996
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: Feminist political theory argues that democratic political foundations have been gender-biased and suffer from various discrepancies that prevent women's participation in the political public sphere and limit their role as political citizens. Parallel to this, feminists have questioned the role of media in representing women's concerns; since media are a dominant part of the public sphere and are crucial sites of debate where meanings are constructed and public consciousness is shaped, their role in political awareness is important. Using such frameworks, this study explores the relationship between political theory and media practice in India, which offers a democratic political system and an autonomous press modelled after the Western political system. However, within the context of a Third World traditional society, the relationship between theory and practice in relation to women's rights is not the simple equation that the Western feminist political theory suggests. A historical and cultural analysis of Indian society reveals that higher-caste patriarchal culture - a Brahmanical hegemony - still defines women's roles and position. Although an explicit model of democracy guarantees legal and political rights to women, the state remains undemocratic and patriarchal towards women, and strengthens the traditional social order in its practice, thus also demonstrating a connection between cultural practices and political practices. Using content analysis, the study reveals that the Indian national press has contributed towards the existing patriarchal order and supported the social consensus by making certain women's issues 'invisible' in a democratic polity. Its insensitivity towards women's issues is examined through the analysis of the media content, in the journalistic practices in covering women's news/issues, and in opinions of journalists towards women's issues and the women's movement. It has been argued that the press and/or journalists are part of the same culture and cannot proceed without values prevalent in India's patriarchal society. Interviews with women activists and journalists suggest that apart from the cultural prejudices, a myriad of issues like poverty, basic needs, etc. facing majority of the population in a developing country impinge upon gender, leading to its perceived insignificance, and causing ideological differences between journalists and women activists.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: Ph.D.
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, Dept. of Media and Communication
Leicester Theses

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