Communication Design today plays a role of social and cultural responsibility. It represents, and at the same time shapes, the society, acting on both individual and collective biographies. An inclusive and sustainable Communication Design needs therefore to be able to take into account the multiplicity and diversity that characterize society, making itself an expression of pluralism and respect. The context in which we live and act is characterized by an enormous amount of media messages which still spread and feed, limiting and degrading gender stereotypes - both consciously or unconsciously. The urgency to act towards a fair representation - free of negative gender stereotypes - is reiterated by the resolution of the European Parliament of 17th April 2018, which highlights the duty of the media “to ensure [...] diversity of opinion and media pluralism, to promote respect for human dignity and to combat all forms of discriminations and inequality by, among other things, portraying diversified social role models [...]” furthermore it “stresses the role of the media as an agent of social change and its influence in the shaping of public opinion and calls on the Member States to promote content on gender equality in public media”. Starting from this context we intend to adopt the interdisciplinary point of view of Gender Studies, focusing on the consideration about the representation of the genders and the centrality of the white man, elevated to a "unique prototype of the human species" (Melandri, 2011). The contribution therefore means to focus on the gender asymmetries conveyed by schematic visual representations, specifically the pictographic language. The objective is to highlight how artifacts and communication systems, which are universal by definition and addressed to the whole community - therefore ideally representative of the multiplicity - are strongly asymmetrical and oriented to the male. The subject of study are therefore the visual forms that are part of the pictographic language with an informative and prescriptive function, an area that has well-established origins in the history of communication design, starting from the studies of Neurath and Frutiger. This kind of visual forms are characterized by a high degree of objectivity but at the same time they unconsciously translate models that include behaviours, duties, responsibilities and expectations linked to female and male identity, the subject of social expectations, which allows us to focus our attention around those gender roles to which women and men are encouraged to conform. The observation therefore concerns the forms of schematic representation which permeate everyday life. A both quantitative and qualitative analysis of the gender asymmetries (hierarchies, roles, contexts...) will allow to highlight through which modalities pictographic languages contribute to convey negative stereotypes towards women. The proposed contribution is located in an area of communication design which is historically central but not widely investigated from the point of view of gender studies and which still results strongly unbalanced towards the male sphere. We therefore assume a gender-sensitive perspective to exercise an innovative point of view for the discipline of design (Decataldo & Ruspini, 2014), in accordance with a vision that enhances the multiplicity towards a fair and equal representation of genders in the media context.

Universal visual languages in a male-oriented society

V. Bucchetti;F. Casnati
2021

Abstract

Communication Design today plays a role of social and cultural responsibility. It represents, and at the same time shapes, the society, acting on both individual and collective biographies. An inclusive and sustainable Communication Design needs therefore to be able to take into account the multiplicity and diversity that characterize society, making itself an expression of pluralism and respect. The context in which we live and act is characterized by an enormous amount of media messages which still spread and feed, limiting and degrading gender stereotypes - both consciously or unconsciously. The urgency to act towards a fair representation - free of negative gender stereotypes - is reiterated by the resolution of the European Parliament of 17th April 2018, which highlights the duty of the media “to ensure [...] diversity of opinion and media pluralism, to promote respect for human dignity and to combat all forms of discriminations and inequality by, among other things, portraying diversified social role models [...]” furthermore it “stresses the role of the media as an agent of social change and its influence in the shaping of public opinion and calls on the Member States to promote content on gender equality in public media”. Starting from this context we intend to adopt the interdisciplinary point of view of Gender Studies, focusing on the consideration about the representation of the genders and the centrality of the white man, elevated to a "unique prototype of the human species" (Melandri, 2011). The contribution therefore means to focus on the gender asymmetries conveyed by schematic visual representations, specifically the pictographic language. The objective is to highlight how artifacts and communication systems, which are universal by definition and addressed to the whole community - therefore ideally representative of the multiplicity - are strongly asymmetrical and oriented to the male. The subject of study are therefore the visual forms that are part of the pictographic language with an informative and prescriptive function, an area that has well-established origins in the history of communication design, starting from the studies of Neurath and Frutiger. This kind of visual forms are characterized by a high degree of objectivity but at the same time they unconsciously translate models that include behaviours, duties, responsibilities and expectations linked to female and male identity, the subject of social expectations, which allows us to focus our attention around those gender roles to which women and men are encouraged to conform. The observation therefore concerns the forms of schematic representation which permeate everyday life. A both quantitative and qualitative analysis of the gender asymmetries (hierarchies, roles, contexts...) will allow to highlight through which modalities pictographic languages contribute to convey negative stereotypes towards women. The proposed contribution is located in an area of communication design which is historically central but not widely investigated from the point of view of gender studies and which still results strongly unbalanced towards the male sphere. We therefore assume a gender-sensitive perspective to exercise an innovative point of view for the discipline of design (Decataldo & Ruspini, 2014), in accordance with a vision that enhances the multiplicity towards a fair and equal representation of genders in the media context.
Design Culture(s). Cumulus Conference Proceedings Roma 2021
9789526490045
PICTOGRAPHIC LANGUAGES, GENDER INEQUALITIES, IMPLIED STEREOTYPES, FAIR REPRESENTATION
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11311/1186512
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