Mediated identity problem: discursive unity and identity fragmentation in alternative media sources of feminist politics
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis explores the way in which political identities can be mediated through alternative media forms. Drawing on the body of literature that exists on alternative media, in addition to theories of discourse and narrative, this thesis develops a framework through which to analyse political identities in alternative media sources. Central to this is Barthes’ (2012) theory of myth and Haraway's (1991) theory of situated knowledges. 10 alternative media sources of feminist politics - five international, and five from Aotearoa-New Zealand – were chosen in order to conduct this analysis. By using theories of discourse and narrative, in relation to Barthes’ (2012) theory of myth and Haraway's (1991) theory of situated knowledges, an analysis of how the alternative media sources of feminist politics situate their identity in relation to mythic modes of knowledge was performed. In theory, the alternative media sources of feminist politics should challenge Barthesian (2012) myths of gender as they attempt to develop a feminist identity.
This thesis argues that the political identity developed across the alternative media sources of feminist politics is fragmented and without a discursive unity or a fixed identity. The 10 sources analysed here all practiced discourse and narrative in differing ways in relation to how they situated knowledge and challenged Barthesian (2012) myths. The purpose of this argument is not to say that feminist politics is without purpose or meaning, far from it, rather that at present there are multiple discourses of feminist politics creating contestation around a feminist identity.
This research provides a framework through which to explore the identity building function of alternative media. This framework could be extended to explore the identities of different political movements as mediated through alternative media, or the identities of alternative media developed around popular culture. Through this, a framework that can better understand the nature of these groups can be developed. The current project, however, focuses on the competing articulations of feminist discourse in order to critically assess the instability of meaning regarding the constitution of feminist identity and political practice.
Keywords: feminism, alternative media, identity, political identity, media identity, myths, situated knowledges, discourse, narrative, counterpublics, Barthes