News as a looking glass: shame and the symbolic power of mediation

Madianou, Mirca. 2012. News as a looking glass: shame and the symbolic power of mediation. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 15(1), pp. 3-16. ISSN 1367-8779 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article brings together the literatures on shame and mediation in order to consider whether shame is generated, or amplified, in situations of mediation such as those when people find themselves exposed in the news media. Acknowledging the social nature of shame that presupposes the other’s regard for oneself, and drawing on a revision of Cooley’s concept of the ‘looking-glass self’ to describe the monitoring of the self from the point of view of the others in the context of mediation, the article argues that news can be a looking-glass through which viewers mirror themselves. Apart from heightening the awareness of the other’s gaze and expectations, news becomes a looking-glass in a more literal way. This occurs in the instances of mediated exposure when people find themselves unwillingly in the news. After an initial theoretical discussion of the emotion of shame and how such theories need to be revised in order to capture the structural transformations pertaining to mediated interaction, the article concentrates on a personal narrative of unwanted mediated exposure and observes how shame can be generated and amplified in the context of mediation, thus revealing the symbolic power of the media with potential consequences for social monitoring and conformity.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

26 Oct 2015 12:38

Last Modified:

16 Apr 2021 14:57

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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