transfer 25(3) » Medieninhalte

Mass Media and the Construction of the Racial Imaginary

A Critical Discourse Analysis of a TV Live Commentary on the Royal Wedding of TRH Prince Harry, now Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle, now Duchess of Sussex, on the 19th of May 2018

‘Race’ is a social construct. There is no biological reality, nor a scientific ground, or any genetic evidence to it that enables the categorisation of people with different appearances into different ‘races’ defined by their DNA codes. Yet, up to this day ‘race’ seems to be one of the key markers that people use to categorise each other, to organise ideas and expectations they have of themselves and ‘others’ and to justify behaviourisms and stereotypes. The master thesis at hand therefore poses the question of ‚What is the role of mass media in the construction of the Racial Imaginary?‘ and finds the answer in revealing mass media as one of the cultural sites where ‘race’ is discursively being constructed and sustained. Drawing from Claudia Rankine’s work on the Racial Imaginary as well as the school of critical ‘race’ theory and connecting both with understandings of media as a cultural complex, circulating and producing racial meanings and engaging in habitualised practices like stereotyping, ‘othering’ and exoticising, the work lays its theoretical framework. The German TV channel ZDF’s live commentary on the royal wedding of THR Prince Harry, former Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle, former Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, on the 19th of May 2018 serves as the research object. Based on the viewpoint of text as a space in which assumptions, ideas and ‘knowledge’ about ‘race’ are being negotiated and discourse and ideology existing in a reciprocal relationship, the critical discourse analysis is chosen as a qualitative method to analyse and discuss the material at hand guided by five deductive-reflexive established categories. Lastly, a thorough analysis, discussion and interpretation of the material shows how the mass media event is communicated through the lens of race, continuously racialises bodies, practices and minds and expresses racial meanings within a racialised social hierarchy of power and value. The thesis is therefore able to identify the TV live commentary not only as a significant construction tool of the Racial Imaginary but also as a tool for the distribution of ideologies and a power within itself.