Reframing Public Discourse
The Reframing Public Discourse Research Theme Working Group will focus on ACT's fourth research question:
"How can communities reframe the negative public discourse about youth to a public discourse that is supportive of positive youth development policies?"
Specific research questions that the working group will focus on include:
- How does the discourse (content and form) used to frame Jane-Finch youth relate to policies, programs, and funding that impacts the community?
- How do different people understand and produce discourse about Jane-Finch youth - both inside and outside the community - that reproduces or challenges negative framing?
- How do academics produce discourse about Jane-Finch and other communities; and how will this project resist reproducing negative discourse?
- How and who benefits (within and outside of the community) from negative discourse?
- How do Jane-Finch youth get information: informal networks; alternative media; internet social networking? How are distinctions between mainstream and alternative media understood within and outside of the community?
Youth in the Jane-Finch community, like youth in other 'marginalized' urban cities, have been the focus of negative public discourse that brands them as 'problems'. Extensive negative media coverage of the community has resulted in the association of Jane-Finch with youth-on-youth violence, poverty and lack of opportunity. For example, the Wikipedia entry for Jane-Finch includes this: "The Jane-Finch community has one of the largest concentrations of criminal gangs of any area in Canada" (October 10, 2008).
Paradoxically, co-existing with this negative framing of Jane-Finch is a high degree of passion, identification and loyalty that is felt by people who live and work in the community, intermixed with a sense of sadness and outrage at the challenges and tragedy the community experiences.
Key Research Activities
A tri-dimensional Critical Discourse Analysis of three sources of data:
- Texts (2010): mainstream media (FACTIVA Database); Alternative Media (Alternative Press Index, Ethnic News Watch, jane-finch.com, 23 etc.) and policy scan of major reports and legislation impacting J/F youth
- Discourse Consumers (2011): focus groups and key informant interviews to explore how mainstream and counter discourses are interpreted and responded to by community members in Jane-Finch and 'outsiders' (youth, Jane-Finch community members and policy /political actors)
- Discourse Producers (2012): media roundtables / focus groups to explore how mainstream and counter discourses are produced (by Jane-Finch and 'outsiders'; alternative and mainstream journalists; academics)
The findings from the Working Group's research activities will be used to develop a Reframing Strategy that will be disseminated via roundtables, town halls and workshops.
A media watch portal will be designed and delivered by Jane-Finch youth.
Working Group Members
Nathan Gilbert, Executive Director - Laidlaw Foundation
Bonny Ibhawoh, McMaster University
Working Group Members:
Daphne Jeyapal, Sarah Maiter, Narda Razack, Maria Shambare, Bridget Sinclair, Stewart Vander Velden