Does Mass Media Really Provide “New” Knowledge? Non-Fiction Publications About The Japanese Grass Eating Men (sōshoku danshi) As An Example

Friday, July 18, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Constanze NOACK , Heinrich-Heine-University Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf, Germany
“Everyday knowledge” is constructed in the mass media by debating or interweaving academic knowledge and common knowledge. It can be assumed that individuals act and identify themselves on the basis of this knowledge, which is nevertheless continuously socially constructed. Drawing from approaches of the sociology of knowledge, I would like to present preliminary findings of my PhD research focussing on the construction of knowledge of masculinity in media products. Since my methodology is based on the “discourse analysis as well as sociology of knowledge”, my paper is dealing with the issue of how knowledge is produced in non-fiction publications. By revealing the process of knowledge construction, I am going to analyze the role of the social actors, the subjective positioning and the given social positions as important aspects.

In times of social upheaval and crisis knowledge altering or broadening of the social knowledge pool could be the key to adapt and form alternative ways of living, given of course there is “new everyday knowledge” and not only repetition of long established knowledge. Therefore the question arises how knowledge, which has the potential to form and distribute new “everyday knowledge”, is being produced by the media.

Taking up the discourse around a media buzzword such as sōshoku danshi (grass eating or herbivore men) – describing young men who are said to shy away from women, and by doing so seem to uphold another form of masculinity – will help to understand whether and how these media products are distributing socially important topics to the public. Furthermore, I am concerned with the process in which academic and everyday knowledge is forming a part of the knowledge stock of Japanese society and in which ways mass media is taking up the role to form “new everyday knowledge”.