Media, racism and public health psychology

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A growing literature has established that racism contributes to ill-health of migrants, minority group members and indigenous peoples. Racial discrimination has been shown to act at personal, institutional and societal levels, negatively affecting physical health as evidenced by heart disease and other stress related conditions and generally negating wellbeing, signalled by psychological and psychiatric disorders including depression. In our highly mediatized world, mass communications in diverse forms are decisive for people’s knowledge and understandings of the world and their place in it. From critical studies we know that the media consistently marginalize, denigrate and neglect particular ethnic and cultural groups. Where media do focus on such groups much of the reporting is negative and stereotyping. Achievements are ignored or minimized while representations of those groups as problems for and threats to the dominant are highlighted. In this paper we consider the particular case of media representations of the indigenous Maori of Aotearoa New Zealand. We review extant studies to argue that detailed and systematic study is necessary for the development of critical, local media scholarship. Such scholarship is necessary if the current media impact on Maori health and wellbeing is to be mitigated. While such considerations may not have been traditional concerns of health psychology we, following George Albee (2003), argue for them as affirming the need for critical public health psychology.
Colonisation, Indigenous peoples, Media, Public health, Racism, Psychology
Nairn, R., Pega, F., McCreanor, T., Rankine, J., & Barnes, A. (2006). Media, racism and public health psychology. Journal of Health Psychology, 11(2), 183-196. doi: 10.1177/1359105306061179