9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN07 Sociology of Culture

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Images of Self, Strangers and Enemies Building II, C4.07

The role of images to building the "enemy"

The behavior towards other people depends on: a) the idea that we build of them; b) the interpretation of past and present actions: c) the expectation of future actions; and d) the socio-cultural contexts. The moment in which an individual or a group attributes to another individual or group the responsibility of his/her critical and/or suffering conditions, we create a situation in which we attribute a false blame to someone or a group defined as the "enemy?". The attribution of responsibility suggests solutions to social problems, while the rules that determine the explanations can both contain and increase the violence and/or control the social order.

The idea of this paper is that the building of ?the enemy? category which represent one of the most powered icon of modernity, is influenced by information and knowledge obtained from the media and especially through images that the media broadcasts. We do not rebuild the history of the "enemy", but we want to analyze the different ways to attribute a judgment that allows the building of the "enemy" (real or not real). This process is strongly influenced by images, these can function as a "deforming mirror". In fact, images promote the terms of language that they create, they put in evidence only on some themes, concepts o mental categories, forgetting others. They do not easily reflex the values of society, but they modify its hierarchy, although they do not create new values.

In other words, the images do not produce only symbolism that contribute to the self-building of identity, but they also give models of identification to base the interactions and social actions on. In this research, we are presenting the modifications of youths perceptions to immigrants. These modifications allow to switch the view on different directions that assume a positive value (to render more familiar what was not familiar), but it is fundamental to underline, that often the images produce contrary effects and instead of releasing themselves from stereotyped conditioning, they make his or her reinforce their negative position.