'Communicational Boundary situations': Minorities` Perceptions of their presentation in Israeli media


During the last several decades, a broad research (Avraham & First, 2010; Lemish, 2014) field has developed in Israel focusing on the topic of how identities are structured in the  media. This field has attempted to reveal the 'Symbolic Annihilation' of various minority groups from both the sociological and the numerical perspective. Hence, this study proposes to examine the following question: What is the relationship between the representation of a minority groups in the  media and its own perception of how it is represented?

This Research based on the model of 'boundary situations' of the German philosopher Karl Jaspers and applies it to a new concept: ' Communicational Boundary situations'. The model suggests three interpretive forms of interpretations: Negation interpretation, denial interpretation and conversion interpretation.

The research method chosen to examine how members of minority groups perceive the way in which they are represented in the media is based on semi-structured in-depth interviews, as is customary in qualitative research. The study examined three minority groups in Israel: Arabs in Israel (National minority), immigrants from the former Soviet Union (Cultural minority) and Mizrachim (Sociological minority) . A total of 80 individuals were interviewed, with the interviewees in each minority group varying according to gender, age and education.

The findings show that the interviewees were able to point to and identify representations of themselves in the media.

Our findings indeed reveal three interpretive forms suggested by Jaspers model: Negation interpretation, denial interpretation and conversion interpretation. The findings show that some of the interviewees did not identify representations of themselves in the segments screened for them, in line with negation interpretation. Most of the interviewees who identified their representations developed strategies of denial strategies toward these representations. For example, they exhibited tolerance toward representations in that they mentioned reality or interact with it. That is, the interviewees tended to 'forgive' the negative interpretations because according to them these interpretations correspond with actual social reality and thus represent the truth and not falsehood. The findings also revealed tolerance toward representations because according to the interviewees the evidence of stereotypes is a factor that empowers and glorifies them in society.

Moreover, the research found that genre made a difference in how minority group respondents related to their media representations. They were more tolerant and forgiving of their negative representations in satire and drama than in advertising. Thus the research concludes that there are significant differences between the genres both in the identification of minority group representations and in the attitude toward the representation in these genres.

The current study also found that most of the interviewees used denial interpretation and negation interpretation, while only a few among them used conversion interpretation. The prevalent use of denial interpretation and negation interpretation can explain the relationship between how minority groups perceive representations and the extent to which they consume these representations.

The proposed model can serve as a theoretical model internationally for different minorities perceptions of their representations in media.