Date

2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Department

Comparative and International Education

First Adviser

Silova, Iveta

Abstract

Historically, orphans in Russia have been objects of negative stereotypes. They have been portrayed as delinquent, dirty, violent, and unintelligent. Given the fact that mass media has a powerful influence on the production of knowledge and dominant visual representations, this study reveals the ways orphans have been portrayed in Russian mass media during the period 2007-2012. Using critical analysis of texts and images from a sample of TV channels, newspapers, and Internet materials, the study identifies the main themes and issues raised with regard to orphans in mass media, while discussing broader meanings and implications of these representations for orphans' lived realities. Following an overview of the historical, political, economic, and cultural contexts, the study reveals that orphans are mainly portrayed in a negative way. Yet, there are also attempts to create a more positive image of orphans and some narratives focused on placing orphans in families and solving their problems. Despite the progress, however, the study suggests that both negative and positive representations may pose dangers to orphans' identities, as well as hamper their ability to socialize and interact with the world. The comparison of mass media discourses with government policies suggests that the future of orphans in Russia seems unstable and unclear.

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