Evaluate! In AQA Media Studies. Paper 2 – Question 2.

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Sorry everyone – I promised to explain what the board means by “evaluate” a few weeks ago – but I didn’t!

So I will now.

For the rest of the world “evaluate” means:

to judge or calculate the quality, importance, amount, or value of something.

If you are being asked to “judge or calculate the quality, importance, amount, or value” of a theory area, or theorist, this comes with some pretty big problems. Apart from early theories (such as effects theory or hypodermic needle theory) it is unlikely that you, a humble A Level student, will have the mad skillz to take apart, say, Butler’s work on gender.

Luckily AQA doesn’t really mean evaluate in the way that the rest of the world does.

In the recent webinair I took part in it became clear that what the board means by evaluate is:

The possible ways in which the work of a theorist or theoretical area can help our understanding.

That’s soooooo much easier!

If you are asked to evaluate Judith Butler using the magazine extracts then you write about what the theories around gender performativity reveal about the producers of the mags, the subjects of the articles and the audience’s attitudes and beliefs. How the magazines reflect Bultler’s idea that, “gender is a kind of imitation”.

mag 1

You would need to write about the rigidity of gender performativity presented in Men’s Health, the emphasis on physical strength and the links made to aspiration. You would include exploration of the use of secondary material (such as the choice of cover star and his presentation, in imagery, as Domonic Toretto rather than Vin Diesel) You may want to speculate that the audience is invested in these gender ideas and subscribe to the patriarchal belief system that created them and that Hearst is clearly part of that powerful system of image creation and control. You may also want to speculate that the identity markers of gender, sexuality, class and education shape the way that the audience regressively responds to the old fashioned certainty of the gender performativity presented in the magazine.

mag 2

You would also need to write about how Iceberg Press, a niche and marginal producer, has created a magazine which presents gender fluidity on the cover and within the articles. You may want to speculate that the intended audience’s identity markers of gender, class and education mean that they are more open to fluid interpretations of gender and are looking for a wider range of gender performativity. You might also want to speculate on how this magazine shapes progressive attitudes and beliefs.

Note that this is not really evaluating Butler but it is looking at what Butler gives a media student when they look through the lens of the theory.

Now that’s a bit easier!


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