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The Gender of Journalism: The Structure and Logic of the Field in the Twentieth Century

Chapter in book
Authors Monika Djerf-Pierre
Published in Gender and the Media - Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies (ed. Kaitlynn Mendes)
Pages 81-104
ISBN 978-1-13-882751-6
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication London
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Pages 81-104
Language en
Keywords gender and journalism, journalism history, field of journalism, Bourdieu, gender-typing, feminist analysis
Subject categories Media and Communications, Gender Studies


The basic theme of the essay is gender and power in the field of journalism in Sweden. It is not controversial to assert that journalism, historically speaking, evolved as a male dominated field. Despite the high level of gender quality in Sweden, however, this pattern remains the case. Drawing on Bourdieu’s theories on habitus, capital and field and Toril Moi’s “appropriation” of Bourdieu, the article looks at the structure of the field of journalism during three periods: the Era of the token woman (1900-1950), the Era of the critical mass (1950-1985), and the Era of feminization (1985 onwards). The field of journalism is defined at the nexus of three overarching social forces – political, economic, and professional forces and dynamics – and the gender order of the field reflects the relative weight of these forces at any given point in time. The empirical analysis of the field is centered around four main questions: (1) which positions men and women have been given access to during different time periods, (2) what forms of capital have men and women accumulated, (3) how images and perceptions on what constitutes “good” journalism have become gendered over time and which positions, media, and genres of journalism have been associated with status/prestige as well as to what extent this social status branding is gendered, and (4) to what extent the struggle in the field has been gendered and what strategies and tactics have been employed in that struggle. In closing, the article discusses some conclusions about the gender logic of the field of journalism. The main finding is that status, prestige and power have been associated with conceptions of masculinity and these conceptions, in turn, have been associated to the beliefs that underpin the field – the image of the journalistic “mission”.

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