Effects of Collective Nouns.

My thesis is that the use of collective nouns, such as men, women, aboriginal, migrant, refugee, (the more specific the more influential) in mass media affects identity and dynamics about the given identity. As contrast, individuals in the media will not produce the same effects. This, if true, has a critical role to play in feelings of anonymity, a modern health issue caused by massive populations. As suicide becomes an increasingly severe problem in the developed world, and the recognising the role of anonymity in suicide, this may produce changes which can mitigate this horror (which is by no means isolated to developed nations).

This is not a thorough sociological, statistical investigation to validate my opinion. It is my opinion and it just makes sense to me. So I shall lay out my case in hopes of persuading you, the reader. I make my case with the intent to demonstrate some evidence and reasoning that lack of men as a collective noun in Australian mass media, is an actionable factor in the horrible male suicide statistics. Often issues disproportionately affecting men (such as being overworked) are not discussed as such, and are instead reported or discussed as Australian problems. This re-labelling of men’s problems as Australian problems diverts public discourse, which is a form of community care & attention and an aspect of a better tomorrow.

Inner stories supply people with a framework to manage living, and individual narratives are are created from national, or other community, materials.
[How many Asiatic people have mentioned their lack of mathematical skills to me? Some, way more than any other ethincity, so this is personal evidence of individuals feeling an urge to relate themselves to the stereotype.]
Modern, larger-than-life (which I believe are effective at reducing suicide) narratives are found in many communities but major sources are simple to identify, such as cinema, literature and mass media. I reckon presence of a specific collective noun in the mass media would increase subjective relation to the identity born from the noun and also boost social effects (such as attending specific cultural events) of that collective. Lack of collective nouns will increase feelings of anonymity and associated problems, extending beyond suicide / mental health to things such as diminished political participation.

Individual men are more common figures in the mass media than individual women. However, I believe that there will be less subjective identification with a public figure as opposed to a collective category. Beneficial effects of collective nouns will either exist in significantly reduced quality & quantity or will not at all be caused by media conversation about individuals.

Feminism, which has had many significant successes and still has many significant objectives, has grown conversation about women’s problems to a towering juggernaut. Feminism casts a shadow which I believe to be a factor in the existence of problematic mental health in men. This effect would be restricted to men (and not extend to say, LGBT), as the binary male / female would indicate the domain in which the identity is to be relatively judged. To develop this concept, a relative judgement will contrast what is relevant, men / women collective noun usage being the obvious measuring posts. Scrolling down a news group’s Facebook page in search of collective nouns (& not individuals) shows more media focus on, & therefore national community identity / narrative material for, women.

A simple demonstration is to read an article focused on a community, identify the collective noun, such as men, and replace that term with a broader collective noun, such as Spaniards. Such a shift reduces informative ability of the article, and so reduces political effects of the community & / article (less information, leads less informed decisions, leads less effective action, leads less action). Further it reduces immediate identification with the facets of the article in question. So to say it differently, individual men in media are weaker at causing the male community to relate to the discourse and is one of the array of factors which inhibit drawing their own inner narrative from the readily accessible mass media.


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