Young People and the Media in a Post-Conflict Society: Challenging Stereotypes and ‘Risking’ Retribution

Dr Faith Gordon1
1Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

The media provide ‘an illusion of “openness”, presenting itself as a forum for competing points of view’, but in reality ‘“discourse” or agenda … sets the limits to what shall and …what shall not, be discussed by society’ (Barrat, 1994: 53).  As Gross (1992: 131) contends, when marginalised groups ‘attain visibility’, their viewpoints appear ‘only within a framework set out by’ the mainstream media.  In critiquing the contemporary applicability of Cohen’s (1972) original theorisation of ‘folk devils’ and ‘moral panics’, McRobbie and Thornton (1995: 568) argue that in contemporary society young people as ‘so-called folk devils’ now produce their own media to counter the mainstream.  This paper will draw upon over ten years’ worth of empirical research into the media’s representations of children and young people in post-conflict Northern Ireland (Gordon, 2018).  Further, the research explores children and young people’s creation of their own forms of media to challenge negative portrayals (Gordon, 2018).  In deconstructing McRobbie and Thornton’s (1995) argument, this paper proposes that it appears not to consider how significant consensus and dominant ideology are to the overall treatment of young people; in light of their position in contemporary society they remain a group with limited agency.  Drawing on empirical findings, this paper will demonstrate that previous research fails to assess whether the production of alternative forms of media have any impact on mainstream media representation of youth, and on societal reaction (Gordon, 2018).


Dr. Faith Gordon is a Lecturer in Criminology at Monash University, Director of the  Youth Justice Network and Research Associate of the Information Law & Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London.  Previously Faith was a Lecturer at the University of Westminster. Faith’s sole-authored monograph for Palgrave Macmillan’s Socio-Legal Series was derived in a decade’s worth of research into the media representations of children and young people.  Faith regularly advises the children’s organisations and participated in drafting the Alternative Report for submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.



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