In which ways are female immigrants represented in German mass media? What relevance do media images and representations have for both self- and public perception? These questions are central for the research project 'Female Immigrants and the Mass Media', which is funded by the Ministry for Generation, Emancipation, Care and Age of North Rhine-Westphalia (http://www.mgepa.nrw.de/). It contains three sub-projects:
This project examines the construction and communication of representations of female migrants within both fictional and non-fictional programming in German TV. Its focus lies on women with migration background living in Germany and TV-programs dealing with their lives. Using group discussions with women with migration background and women without such a background the importance of TV-images for social inclusion and exclusion is investigated. Furthermore, TV workers with migration background are interviewed. Thus, their function and perspective as publicly visible role models is taken into consideration as well. An explorative review of relevant online communication complements the study. In theoretically and empirically approaching the relation between audio-visual media, gender, and migration knowledge about a less-observed field in German communication science is gained.
The book "Female Migrants in the media. Representation in the press and their reception" was recently published by transcript (in German language).
During the first part of the project the state of both German and international research has been systematically reviewed. It showed that communication studies had had a vital interest in the relations between media and migration for some time. Various aspects were taken into consideration, among these are: participation in media production, representation in media text and media adoption of people with an immigration background. As far as media representations of female immigrants are concerned there are few individual surveys. As far as systematic and broad research on the relation between race and gender in mass media is concerned, there is none. Numerous studies have a narrow focus on (photo) images of Muslim women and thereby ignore the wide variety and diversity of migration realities and cultures. Therefore it requires more thorough research to cover the entire field of migration.
The MGEPA published the results on its web site.
Analyzing the representation of female migrants in selected print media, this study is the first to undertake a systematic, empirical exploration of the interrelation of structural categories gender and ethnicity in media coverage of migrants. Five German newspapers (Kölner Stadtanzeiger, Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, BILD, tageszeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) have been analyzed in a period of time of four months (7 July - 8 March, in 2005 - 2008). The results refute the previous assumption of other, seemingly gender-neutral approaches and shift the focus away from the "criminal alien" towards a more diverse pattern of representations in which female migrants may appear as victims as well as, however, successful women, celebrities, or simply as a regular part of everyday life. The adoption of media representations of female migrants was discussed in six group discussions with female migrants and non-migrants in Berlin and Cologne. There are some indications on how media content contributes to social inclusion and exclusion. Role models as well as a strong criticism on a one-sided and as negatively biased perceived coverage was uttered in this regard.