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Power and the newsprint media’s framing of the Downtown Eastside

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(Research Project) M.Urb.
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The newsprint media’s portrayal of the Downtown Eastside (DTES) is often taken as just an objective reflection of the DTES without taking into account the media’s constitutive capacity and the power relations embedded in such representations. Thus, the media has broad social implications, affecting such phenomena as DTES related public policy and social movements and ultimately, the DTES itself. These social constructivist sentiments provide the theoretical basis for my content analysis of 247 articles of The Vancouver Sun and The Province from 1997 to 2008. I argue that the media’s dominant framing of the DTES reproduces and is, in part, a reflection of the existing asymmetric power relations of society. Consequently, this hegemonic framing doubly stigmatizes the DTES: firstly, privileging outsiders’ monochromatic portrayals of the DTES as a problematic space defined through the medicalization, criminalization, and socialization lens and secondly, framing its residents as passive social actors of constructive change.
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