Dr. Carolina Matos Senior lecturer, researcher and journalist. Research on international communications, journalism, and gender, democracy and development

Globalization, gender politics and the media

Introduction – Women and globalization: equality and emancipation

   “I shall not go back to the remote annals of antiquity to trace the history of woman; it is sufficient to allow that she has always been either a slave, or a despot, and to remark, that each of these situations equally retards the progress of reason. The grand source of female folly and vice has ever appeared to me to arise from narrowness of mind; and the very constitution of civil governments has put almost insuperable obstacles in the way to prevent the cultivation of female understanding – yet virtue can be built on no other foundation!”

Wollstonecraft, M. (1792, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman)


General perspectives

        Feminist theory, with its emphasis on multidisciplinarity, and through a combination of theoretical perspectives with practice and even activism, has been extremenly influential in providing frameworks for combating forms of oppression in its multiple forms, in thinking critically about power relations between men and women in various disciplines in the Social Science and Humanities, and in articulating agendas of change that can strengthen democracy in many countries throughout the world. In a context following the decline of the European colonial powers after the Second World War, the world since mainly the 2008 economic crash has seen the rise of other global players in the geopolitical sphere, including the growth of countries such as China, Russia and India, and to some extent also Brazil, and the expansion in the number of people joining the global economy. Thus the debate on women’s oppression today is one which has become increasingly more of a global concern, and is inserted within the benefits, as well as the contradictions, of globalization. Gender inequality today is juxtaposed to various other layers, including race, class, nationality and ethnicity, and can only be fully understood by taking into consideration historical, political, local as well as socio-economic circumstances and contexts.

The quest for civil and political rights has very much occurred parallel to the formation and development of modern Western democratic nation-states. Arguably, the search for emancipation has been present in women’s movements in their search for civil and politic rights since the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe. These have been part of the very struggles for worker’s rights and universal suffrage in England during and after the Industrial Revolution, and in the battles for the abolition of slavery both in the West as well as in other parts of the world. Similarly to the struggles that African-American civil rights movements experienced in the US in the 1960’s, voting rights were only conceded to women with a lot of reluctance in the first half of the 20th century, and in some countries as late as 1960s, with Switzerland granting this right only in 1971 (Philips, 1999; Lovenduski, J. and Norris, 1993). Thus the mistake has been to assume that struggles for political equality and civil rights have been a thing of the past. As Philips (1999) stated in Why Equalities Matter, many assumed wrongly that rights were fully conquered in the 1960s and 1970s, provoking a retreat from pursing wider economic equality in the aftermath of the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980’s.

Democracies in contemporary societies today are being challenged again in a context of discussions, within political communications, of suffering from a “democratic deficit”, and thus holding a thin promise of democracy, political equality and popular participation (Scammell and Semetko, 2007). The relationship between equality and democracy has been, and continues to be,  one of very close affinity, having marked the very development of European modern nation-states to the stage that they are in today. It is even more important at a moment when market dynamics have taken hold of many spheres of political, economic and social life and pervaded most institutions throughout the world, having for many caused the undermining of politics and provoking a growth of disillusionment and apathy between significant sectors of the population, culminating in the retreat from the public sphere into the private realm (Habermas, 1989). At a time when many argue that democracy is being hijacked by corporate power and undermined by the supremacy of the market, with political disenfranchisement having caused the rise of nationalist and extreme right wing movements throughout Europe, the persistence still of the underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities in various spheres of society threatens the very vitality and decision-making capacity of democratic societies. In the case of emerging and weak democracies like Brazil, the problem is significantly heightened and threats the very future of the development of the nation.

Thus democratic struggles have undoubtedly been throughout history about expanding the space for the inclusion of a wider citizen body, avoiding exclusions based on property, gender, race, nationality or ethnicity. Despite the “cultural turn” and the shift towards a wider concern with discourses, language and representation as the space where possibilities for resistance are articulated and celebrated, feminism still has a lot to offer in terms of theories and thinking about democracy, as well as its relationship to women and other social movements groups. Notably, the feminist struggles involved in the fight for rights has returned in full force in different aspects throughout the world, from the UK, countries in the former Eastern Europe bloc to Brazil, and have been expressed in not just the growth in the representation of women political leaders to the debates on the reduction of the gender pay gap and the increase in grassroots transnational feminist activism, to name a few.

To read more, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Globalization-Gender-Politics-Media-America/dp/1498512445



Rosalind Gill: “We do not want cake, we want the whole bakery!”

Interview with Professor Rosalind Gillb

City, University of London. London, United Kingdom

By Carolina Matosc

City, University of London, Department of Sociology. London, United Kingdom

Professor Rosalind Gill studied Sociology and Psychology at Exeter University and obtained her PhD in Social Psychology at the Discourse and Rhetoric Group (DARG) from Loughborough University in 1991. Brought up in a left-wing household with parents who talked about frequently talked about politics, Gill grew interested in questions about ideology, and particularly the role the media played in winning consent for unjust social relations. Supervised by professor Michael Billig, who did ethnographic work inside the Far Right party, the National Front, Gill has developed research in gender and the media, creative work and contributed widely to debates about the sexualization of culture. She has worked across a number of disciplines, including Sociology, Gender Studies and Media and Communications, and has held various posts, including at Goldsmiths College, King’s College London and at the Gender Institute at the LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science).

Her publications include Aesthetic Labour: Beauty Politics in Neoliberalism (2017, with A. Elias and C. Scharff); “Gender and Creative Labour” (2015, with B. Conor and S. Taylor); Theorizing Cultural Work: Labour, Continuity and Change in the Creative Industries (2013, with M. Banks and S. Taylor); New Femininities: Postfeminism, Neoliberalism and Subjectivity (2011, with C. Scharff); Secrecy and Silence in the Research Process: Feminist Reflections (2009, with R. Ryan-Flood); The gender-technology relation: contemporary theory and research (1995, with K. Grint) and the single authored book, Gender and the media (Gill, 2006), among other book chapters and articles, including “Beyond individualism: the psychosocial life of the neoliberal university” in Spooner et al’s A Critical Guide to Higher Education and the Politics of Evidence (2017) and “Feminist debates about the ‘sexualization of culture’” in Carter et al’s The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender (2014).

Professor Gill is working on a four year AHRC award called Creativeworks London, with Any Pratt (City), Mark Banks (Open University) and Wendy Malem (London College of Fashion), which investigates innovation in London’s cultural and creative sector. She is also part of the core group of a multi-country EU COST Action entitled The Dynamics of Virtual Work, which is concerned with transformations on work brought by digital technologies (<http://dynamicsofvirtualwork.com>). She is currently working on a book called Mediated Intimacy: sex advice in media culture (with Meg Barker and Laura Harvey). Gill joined City, University of London, in August 2013 and works at the Creative and Cultural Industries research cluster at the Department of Sociology.

MATRIZes: On the 8th of March 2017, women gathered together in countries across the world to protest including in Britain, against gender inequalities and in fear that the rights obtained in the past are now under challenge. In your opinion, how has British feminist media studies contributed in looking at the correlation between structural gender inequalities in our societies and the role of the media here?

Rosalind Gill: Feminist media studies emerged out of three different movements. It came from people working within media industries who were angry about the under-representation and poor representations of women – for example as newsreaders, as experts and in terms of restricted roles for actresses. It also developed from feminists within the academy in fields like Sociology, English and Media and Communication studies, who were confronting the male as norm problem. And it also emerged out of the anger that many ordinary women felt about how they were represented in the media – which led to a huge surge of energy and activism. For example, in the 1980s, before I was an academic, I was involved in a feminist grouping called the Women’s Media Action Group and we did our own research about the portrayal of women, and produced zines and campaigning material about this. The International Women’s Day marches continue to express that anger at gender inequality and injustice, and I think it is really striking to note how much feminist activism relates directly or indirectly to media – from Slutwalk, to the Everyday Sexism movement, to campaigns about particular advertising promotions or about lad culture.

MATRIZes: You are a prominent feminist media scholar. How has your academic path developed and what were your main challenges? What attracted you to work on representations of gender and media culture?

Gill: I was a political activist before I was an academic and I was lucky enough to be brought up in a left-wing household where politics and ideas were talked about all the time. I studied Psychology and Sociology at University, then was privileged to get a place to do a Ph.D. with a generous and inspirational supervisor, Professor Michael Billig, who at the time was known to his extraordinary research on British racism and fascism (Billig, 1978). He was interested in how forms of racism were changing in the wake of anti-discrimination laws, and had also undertaken very brave ethnographic work inside the Far Right party the National Front. It was amazing to have the chance to study with him.

The questions that preoccupied me were questions about ideology, and especially the role that the media played in winning consent for profoundly unjust social relations. I continue to believe that the media are a really important area of study for anyone interested in social justice. Professor Stuart Hall has been a really important influence on my thinking about these questions – he is greatly missed and I think his ideas remain touchstones for anyone trying to understand urgent questions such as the rise of right wing populism, misogyny and racism in Europe and the US.

For full interview, go to https://www.revistas.usp.br/matrizes



Globalization and the mass media

How Globalization and the mass media facilitate culture exchange!

The mass media are seen today as playing a key role in enhancing globalization, facilitating culture exchange and multiple flows of information and image between countries through international news broadcasts, television programming, new technologies, film and music. If before the 1990’s mainstream media systems in most countries of the world were relatively national in scope, since then most communication media have become increasingly global, extending their reach beyond the nation-state to conquer audiences worldwide. International flows of information have been largely assisted by the development of global capitalism, new technologies and the increasing commercialisation of global television, which has occurred as a consequence of the deregulation policies adopted by various countries in Europe and the US in order to permit the proliferation of cable and satellite channels. Read More

Media and politics in Latin America: o livro

Media and politics in Latin America: globalization, democracy and identity (IB Tauris, 2012) será lançado em versão traduzida pela Civilização Brasileira, da Editora Record, em janeiro de 2013
Por Carolina Matos, autora

O livro Media and politics in Latin America: globalization, democracy and identity (I.B. Tauris, 2012), que foi lançado na Inglaterra pela editora acadêmica britânica I.B. Tauris no final de fevereiro, sairá em edição internacional no dia 24 de abril. Ele tem data prevista para ser publicado também no Brasil pela Civilização Brasileira, da Editora Record, no final de 2012, início de 2013. O trabalho contrasta o papel desempenhado pela mídia pública nos países europeus, principalmente na Grã-Bretanha, com o fortalecimento dos sistemas de comunicação pública no Brasil e em outras nações da América do Sul. As rápidas mudanças que estão ocorrendo na mídia na América Latina têm trazido à superfície debates sobre a implementação de um novo sistema regulatório, fora uma série de exigências feitas por diversos setores da sociedade a favor de reformas. Read More