Riley, "Heroes of Assimilation: How the Media Transform Disability"


Please post your discussion questions on Riley, "Heroes of Assimilation: How the Media Transform Disability" below, using the following as a guide:
1. Why are economics important to consider when analyzing the relationship between media representation and power?
2. Who, according to Riley, is responsible for the misrepresentation of disability in the media?
3. What are the three epochs of understandings diversity? What do you think are the consequences of these?
4. How did civil rights fit into the discourses and policy-making surrounding disability? That is, what does Riley mean by a shift from "medical" to "civil rights" view of diversity?
5. What does Riley mean when he argues that disability is "socially constructed"? What is the media's role in this construction?
6. How have media represented disability, according to Riley? What examples of media representations of disability can you think of? Do your examples reflect what Riley is arguing? Why/why not?


On page 323, Riley mentions the coverage that celebrities get when they are diagnosed with or through an accident, are afflicted with, a debilitating medical condition. Has the coverage given to these celebrities and their conditions changed the way the non-disabled public perceives the disabled?

Is it possible, that despite the media's "disadvataged disabled" there are advantages for celebrities, or athletes, or even just regular people to gain from the media by being considered disabled?

According to Riley, the decision makers is mainly responsible for the misrepresentation of disability. Because they choose what they want to show the public and can tweak the images to what they believe is suitable for everyone. What do you think about this? IF there is a problem with who qualifies to be called "disabled" is this why the media makes the misrepresentation of the disability? How can we help?

On page 324 Riley talks about "the means of refocusing attention on the rights of people with disabilities." He talks about writers and editors entering into the newsrooms and using personal experience to challenge stereotypes. How has having people with disabilities writing and telling us about the stories make the stories different than if someone without the disability telling it? What does it mean (when Riley points out) "With all those juicy demographics ripe for the picking, and that the rise of the person with a disability as a consumer, it still surprises me that as late as 1996 there was no cross-disability magazine on newsstands..."? Does he mean more that there is still not a lot of attention given to the disabled or that media is still treating them as the minority?

Riley points to the language of the American Disabilities Act in arguing that disability is a socially constructed condition. The passage including "major life activities" is especially problematic because it implies that these activities are naturalized, and not subjective, when of course they are quite different across the cultural spectrum. Like any other stereotype, the media relies on dominant ideologies with regard to what is understood as "able" and "disabled." Stereotypes of disability serve to simplify images, thus making it less of a risk to perpetuate them.

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This page contains a single entry by zimme313 published on April 6, 2013 10:25 AM.

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