How Stereotyping in Mass Media Creates A Social Stigma in the Society



Mass media are tools that make sure information reaches to a large number of people i.e. to the masses. Mass communication refers to the technology that is used to communicate to a large group, or groups of people in a short time frame (Pavlik & McIntosh, 2004, p. 22). Mass media is the means of public communication that reach large numbers of people in a short time. Mass media is the communication channels through which information reaches people. The word ‘mass media’ was coined in the year 1920 with the advent of nationwide radio and newspaper network. Mass media includes both print and electronic media. It relates to all mass communications. It reaches many numbers of people simultaneously. It provides news, entertainment and advertising messages to the general public.


Mass media can broadly be classified into two categories:

2.1. Print Media

Print media provides communication through printed materials. It includes newspapers, magazines, periodicals, newsletters, etc. The print media evolved from the book printing and publishing in late England. The reach to a large number of people through printed pages started here.


2.2. Electronic Media

Electronic media provides communication through the network of electronic gadgets. Electronic media is also known as the Broadcast media. Traditional broadcast media provides one-to-many communications such as television, cinema and the radio. Modern electronic media provides long-distance exchanges between larger numbers of the people via email, internet. It provides many-to-many communication.

Other forms of mass media

  • Print media Electronic media Outdoor media
  • Newspapers Radio Posters
  • Books Films Billboards
  • Magazines Television Signs
  • Periodicals Cable network Placards
  • Newsletters Direct-to-home Skywriting
  • Brochures Recorded Music Blimps
  • Pamphlets Internet Public speeches
  • Leaflets Cellular Phones Event organizing


Media today is forever changing. The fact that technology evolves and changes “drives the development of media”. Because we as a society are always using mass media there are consequences and effects that have been laid on the forefront of mass media. Certain scholars, scientist and researchers “believe that the mass media shape the way people view the world, especially when people have little direct experience; others point to the media as providing role models are positive and negative and are imitated by members of the audience”.


The portrayal of violence in the media seems to be the most talked-about issue, but other “behavioural areas are of concern”. These arguments tend to be based on “the supposition that the experience of the content presented by contemporary mass media differs in some qualitative way from other material that people have been exposed to since the beginning of social communication”. Attempts to “hold mass-media corporations legally responsible for the criminal acts of the consumers of their products have failed, and a general consensus has been reached that people will have to continue to be responsible for their own behaviours in the age of mass media”.


In social psychology, a stereotype is an over-generalized belief about a particular category of people. It is an expectation that people might have about every person of a particular group. The type of expectation can vary; it can be, for example, an expectation about the group’s personality, preferences, or ability.

Stereotypes are generalized because one assumes that the stereotype is true for each individual person in the category. While such generalizations may be useful when making quick decisions, they may be erroneous when applied to particular individuals. Stereotypes lead to social categorisation, which is one of the reasons for prejudice attitudes and may arise for a number of reasons.


4.1 Portrayal Of Muslims In Media

The worldwide media portrays the followers of Islam as terrorists. Most people who are prone to media exposure come to the conclusion that Moslems are the only ones who engage in terror attacks all over the world. They do not come on par with the fact that terrorism is not confined to one religion and their terrorists who embrace other religion too. The stereotype created by the media persons has an adverse effect on the lives of Muslims who live across various non-muslim states of the world. The idea is beautifully portrayed in the movie My Name is Khan starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol whereas a Muslim in America, he gets into trouble for raising the slogan “I am a Muslim and I am not a terrorist”

4.2 Portrayal Of Women In Media

Women are portrayed as baby producing human beings who must be pertaining to the kitchen and take care of the household work instead of going out there and working in offices which in turn will bring defame to the glory and name of the family. This discourages the women to move forward and take up public spaces which will end up in an equal societal setup in workspaces. Liberal and non-conservative women with an outspoken personality are always portrayed and extroverts and travellers and with more than one sexual partners which in the real world is not a mandate or existing phenomenon. Every woman is different in their own way.

4.3 Portrayal Of Races In Media

When it comes to White men, they are portrayed either as the most clam and well-behaved men or the exact opposite, a male supremacist. An average male in America is shown in the movies and other documentaries as a person who drinks beer are fat and are obsessed with sex which is not true every case.


When it comes to black men, they are always portrayed as drug dealers or arms dealers. They seem to live in the shady part of the town. They face discrimination and end up being miserable in life. Unlike the stereotype created by the media, there are very many men who are from a completely different background and have been very successful in their endeavours. A fine example is that of Pres. Barack Obama who comes from Hawaii and did have a very prosperous career.

The portrayal of Asians in the American and Foreign media as dorks and nerds is not the case always. Asians outperforming every other race in the classrooms and otherwise in media, puts a lot of pressure on children and adults as well. They are expected to outrun all other races in workplaces and knowledge. Higher expectations and lower standards of delivery not only emotionally affects the individual, but it has also, in some cases, resulted in suicide.

4.4 Portrayal Of Political Situations In Others Countries By Media

Vietnam is the best example there is when it comes to the negative portrayal of countries in media. The Vietnam War was over by 1975 which is almost 4 decades back but still manages to make its way into newspapers and electronic media even today. The countries economy and tourism is highly affected by this negative media showcases across the world.


Bangkok, Thailand is always shown across various countries in the movies and news as party places and free use of drugs. Thailand has more cultural and ecstatic value than just booze and ladyboys. The country manages to attract a lot of tourists but has lost the cultural importance within the citizens itself.

4.5 Portrayal Of Sex In Media

Highly sexualized advertisements and movies affect teens and their sexual lives. Losing their virginity before college becomes essential. A date for homecoming becomes a mandate and these kinds of social pressure to have sex itself brings addiction to porn and varied sexually unhealthy inclinations at a very young age. Safe sex is also encouraged by the media which a positive aspect. And will impact the lives of youngsters in a positive way.


Media plays a vital role in shaping the opinions and ideologies of the general public. It has the responsibility to show raw information and not take people in any particular direction as they intend too. These types of activities negatively affect society and will have an adverse effect on the minds of men and women.


This article is authored by Ritula Nizam, student of Law at VIT Chennai

Also Read – Media Trial: A Detail Analysis

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