Blood in the Water: Representations of Shark-Human Relationships in Discovery Channel’s Shark Week

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Macaventa, Lucia Isabel G. (2016). Blood in the Water: Representations of Shark-Human Relationships in Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication.


Abstract

This study examines how media represents human-nonhuman relations, specifically with sharks. The two main components of this study are (1) the characterization of sharks, and (2) the characterization of human-shark relationships, both on documentary television programs. This study aims to discuss these two components by answering the question: how does the representation of human-shark relationships on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week portray sharks in a negative manner? Using content analysis with a qualitative approach, this research studies 15 of the 18 episodes of the 2015 season of Shark Week. It looks specifically at production aspects and situations that contribute to the characterization of sharks, as well as the human-shark relationships in the program. It looks specifically at the framing and manner in which sharks are described and presented in the program. This study aims to determine whether these characterizations in each episode are either positive or negative, which will determine the general portrayal of sharks and shark-human relations. This study mainly uses Mark S. Meisner’s (2005, 2003) points for analyzing representations of the nonhuman world and common characterizations of nature in the media to guide the analysis of the Shark Week episodes. This framework is also used to determine whether an episode’s portrayal is positive or negative.


Keywords: sharks, human-nonhuman relations, Shark Week, representation


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