Media construction and representation of women in political leadership positions: A study of selected news media outlets in Nigeria

Fafowora, Bimbo Lolade (2020-12)

Thesis (DPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Despite the growing acceptance of women’s political participation across the world, women in political leadership positions are still regarded as “others”. In Nigeria, just like in other parts of the world, women are still poorly represented in politics and political leadership positions. Globally, media portrayal of women has been identified as one of the reasons for the underrepresentation of women in politics and public leadership. It is against this backdrop that this study examines the construction and representation of women in political leadership positions by the media in Nigeria. Situated at the intersection of media, politics and gender studies, this study explores media contents for representations of women in politics which could contribute to the promotion and perpetuation of traditional gender stereotypes which legitimate marginalisation and subordination of women in Nigeria. Given that media has been identified as sites for hegemonic contestations through ideology building, this study, by examining the construction and representation of women political leaders in four national newspapers in Nigeria, namely The Punch, The Guardian, Vanguard, and This Day, contributes to media and feminist scholarship aimed at understanding the intersections in the marginalisation and subjugation of women in society. The study combines analysis of media contents with In-Depth Interviews to ascertain important stakeholders’ sensitivity to the role of the media in the promotion of disempowering narratives and stereotypes which have excluded women from public leadership positions by confining them to the private space. Utilising the interpretive research paradigm, the study is hinged on three theoretical frameworks, namely Framing Theory, Media Hegemony Theory, and Feminist Theory. Drawing on the principles of these theories, the study examines how media processes play out in the selection and publication of stories about women in political leadership positions in Nigeria, as well as how media publications promote and reinforce pre-existing socio-cultural gender norms. This study adopts the case study methodological approach, utilising Content Analysis and In-Depth Interviews(IDI).The data were thematically analysed using Atlas.ti 8, a computer software programme. The media articles and the respondents were selected using purposive and snowball sampling techniques respectively. The study reveals that while the media in Nigeria utilise both stereotypical and non-stereotypical frames in their portrayal of women in political leadership positions between 2007, 2011,and 2015, the quantity of publications focusing on them increased by 13% while usage of gender stereotypes in the publications reduced by 31%. Nevertheless, the publication of an average of six media articles per day across the four newspapers indicates that women in politics are still largely underrepresented in the Nigerian media sphere. Meanwhile, a cross-section of the respondents perceived media representations of women in politics as numerically marginalising, but not stereotypically tinged. Therefore, this study concludes that women in political leadership positions are still being framed out of the Nigerian media space, and that the media in Nigeria are sites for the reproduction of disempowering patriarchal discourses. Lastly, it also concludes that socio-cultural gender norms and economic challenges intersect with media representations in perpetuating the low participation of Nigerian women in politics.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Ondanks die groei in vroue se deelname aan politiek oor die wêreld heen, word vroue in politieke leierskapsposisies steeds as die “ander” in die politiek beskou. In Nigerië, soos in ander wêrelddele, is vroue steeds onderverteenwoordig in die politiek, en dus in leiersposisies. Globaal word die media-uitbeelding van vroue beskou as een van die redes vir die onderverteenwoordiging van vroue in die politiek en openbare bestuur. Dit is teen hierdie agtergrond dat hierdie studie die konstruksie en representasie van vroue in politieke leiersposisies in Nigeriese media ondersoek. Die studie, gefundeer binne die interseksie van media-, politieke en genderstudies, ondersoek die mediaverteenwoordiging van vroue in die Nigeriese politiek om media-uitbeeldings te identifiseer wat kan bydra tot die bevordering van tradisionele genderstereotipes, en daarmee dus die marginalisering en subordinasie van vroue. Aangesien die media geïdentifiseer is as terrein van hegemoniese kontestasie, gebou op ideologie, dra hierdie studie by tot meer begrip binne die kennisveld van media en feminisme deur die konstruksie en representasie van vroulike politieke leiers in vier nasionale koerante, naamlik The Punch, The Guardian, Vanguard, en This Day, te ondersoek. ’n Inhoudsanalise van berigte word gekombineer met in-diepte onderhoude met die doel om die rol van die Nigeriese media in die marginalisering en onderwerping van vroue te identifiseer deur te ondersoek hoe ontmagtigende narratiewe en stereotipering vroue tot die private ruimte beperk, eerder as om hulle in openbare leierskapsposisies te bevorder. Met die toepassing van die interpretatiewe navorsingsparadigma gebruik hierdie studie drie teoretiese raamwerke, naamlik raming, mediahegemonie-teorie, en feministiese teorie. Op sterkte van hierdie teorieë word ondersoek hoe mediaprosesse ’n rol speel in die seleksie en publikasie van narratiewe oor vroue in politieke leierskapsposisies, asook hoe publikasies bestaande sosiaal-kulturele gendernorme bevorder en verdiep. As navorsingsontwerp word die gevallestudiebenadering gebruik, met inhoudsanalise en in-diepte onderhoude as metodologie. Die data-analise word tematies gedoen met behulp van Atlas.ti 8, ’n sagteware-program vir kwalitatiewe data-analise. Die media-artikels en die respondente is gekies deur onderskeidelik doelgerigte en sneeubalsteekproef tegnieke. Die studie se bevindings dui aan dat die media in Nigerië sowel stereotipes as nie-stereotipies rame gebruik in die uitbeelding van vroue in politieke leierskapsposisies. Ondanks die toename van 13% in die aantal berigte gedurende die studietydperk dui die daaglikse gemiddelde van ses media-artikels daarop dat vroue in die politiek steeds grootliks onderverteenwoordig word. Die bevindings toon wel ’n vermindering van 31% in die gebruik van geslag stereotipes in mediakonstruksie en representasie van vroue in politieke leierskapsposisies tussen 2007, 2011,en 2015. ’n Deursnit van die respondente het egter aangedui mediaverteenwoordiging van vroue in die politiek is getalsgewys gemarginalisereerd, maar nie stereotiepies gekleur nie. Die studie kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat vroue in die politiek nog steeds buite die Nigeriese mediaruimte geraam word endat die Nigeriese media ’n terrein vir die voortsetting van patriargale diskoerse is. Laastens kom die studie tot die gevolgtrekking dat sosiokulturele gendernorme en ekonomiese uitdagings, interseksioneel met die media, verantwoordelik is vir die lae deelname van vroue aan die politiek in Nigerië.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/109161
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