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Visualising Aboriginality: Image campaigns and news routines in the Western Australian media

Mickler, Stephen Brent (1996) Visualising Aboriginality: Image campaigns and news routines in the Western Australian media. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This is a study of the representation of Aboriginal affairs in major Western Australian newspapers and popular 'talkback' radio programs. It examines the interrelation of these media, government and political agency and describes the local and more global discursive environments in which public conversations about Aboriginal social and political status take place and are shaped. This study shares with much of the academic work in its field strong concerns about the implications of public image campaigns and social deviance-producing news practices for the interests of an historically oppressed people. Where this study is different is in its bringing to the topic an understanding of processes of governance and the more mundane and routine negotiating of "social control" involved in the setting of news agendas by journalists and their sources. To do this the study combines the theoretical frame developed by Ericson, Baranek and Chan (1987, 1989, 1991) and theories of governmentality and social problematisation, particularly in Foucault (1988, 1991) and Hunter (1994). The study argues that the visualising of Aboriginality is an active field of contestation and negotiation over the power to visualise Aboriginality among different institutions and agencies including media, government and Aboriginal agencies. As a consequence of this argument, it is recognised that academic work in this field, including the author's, therefore requires critical analysis in the same terms as these other agencies. The study does not attempt to be a comprehensive account of the representation of Aboriginal affairs in all media throughout WA history. Its scope is limited historically from the establishment of Aboriginal citizenship in the 1960s through to the early 1990s. Its focus is the print 'media of record' and popular radio and does not significantly extend to television, magazines and other popular media forms.

Besides scholarly published and unpublished work, the study is sourced with transcripts and reports from government and non-government inquiries and parliamentary debates. Extensive use is also made of press articles and advertisements, audio and video tape recordings of radio and television segments, and media statements and releases by Aboriginal organisations. These sources are supplemented by information from personal interviews, meetings and cooperative work with journalists. Aboriginal agencies and individuals and government officers conducted over a lengthy period.

Chapters 2 and 3 are revised versions of Mickler, S. (1992) 'Visions of Disorder: Aboriginal People and Youth Crime Reporting'. Cultural Studies 6(3) and Mickler, S. (1992) Gambling on the First Race: a comment on Racism and Talk-Back Radio. 6PR. the TAB and the WA Government. published jointly by the Louis St. John Johnson Memorial Trust and the Centre for Research In Culture and Communication, Murdoch University.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Humanities
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): O'Regan, Tom and Hartley, John
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