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The Construction of ‘The Other’ by the Media

Renata Summa opened the conversation by broadly defining the idea of ‘the other’ as a person or group that does not fit the dominant group’s identity characteristics. The media play a crucial role in establishing and spreading a society’s definition of the dominant identity, Summa explained. She stressed that the media is a powerful tool for a dominant group (whether a political party, race or social class) to influence people’s opinions and gain control over, and legitimacy in, the eyes of the population.

Building on the discussion of media’s power in constructing the image of ‘the other,’ Alexandre dos Santos underscored the power and responsibility of the audience–as consumers in the media industry–in the building of ‘the other.’ The professor explained that all narration and representation is produced through someone’s filter—all articles are written through the filter of the journalist. But additionally, he added, representations are filtered again by the reader, who consciously or subconsciously may choose to read only what confirms his or her opinion. The influence of the point of view of the writer or of the reader always plays a role in the construction of ‘the other,’ and Santos believes it is a duty of the media consumer to be aware of it and look for a different point a view. “Part of the construction of the other through the media is about what people let the media build,” he argued.

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