RUNNING HEAD: MULTICULTURAL COMMUNICATIONS
Theory and Practice
Paper Submitted to the Commission on the Status of Women
for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass
Communication Convention; Baltimore, Maryland; August 5-8, 1998
B. Carol Eaton
S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
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17913 Milroy Drive
Dumfries, Virginia 22026
Beyond Tokenism: Multicultural Communications Theory and Practice
This paper addresses scholars and practitioners in mass communications about
the importance of including comprehensive diversity and "multiculturalism" in
all aspects of their work. To that end, this paper briefly outlines one
theoretical perspective that can be used for multicultural mass communication
research and practice. The paper then develops a working model of multicultural
communications to help practitioners, teachers, and researchers in the field
include class, ethnicity, gender, and other intersections of identity in their
Beyond Tokenism: Multicultural Communications Theory and Practice
Without a doubt, three of the most "politically correct" words in mass
communications academia today are race, class, and gender. Similarly,
multiculturalism is popular among practitioners and professionals in the field.
How are these categories defined and used by academics, practitioners, and
students in our discipline? How are they recognized or ignored in teaching,
research, and professional applications in mass communications? How is our
field evolving (or not) to incorporate these important intersections of gender,
race, and class?
These are some of the questions I am struggling with as a doctoral candidate in
mass communications. After three years of graduate study, I am beginning to
recognize the sexism that continues to dominate our discipline. Being a woman,
I found it relatively safe to incorporate the study of gender in my graduate
research and teaching. Only recently, however, have I become aware of my own
privilege (i.e., white, middle-class, heterosexual, able-bodied, among others).
For this insight, I had to walk across the street, literally and figuratively,
to another building and discipline entirely (namely, sociology). While I was
across the street, I also deepened my understanding of gender intersections by
reading feminist books and articles written outside of my own field.
I have envisioned the writing of this critical essay as a process for me to
develop a cohesive, theoretical foundation for my own research and teaching in
the field of mass communications. I also hope that this paper addresses
scholars and practitioners in mass communications about the importance of
diversity, inclusion, and "multiculturalism" in their own work. To that end,
first I will briefly outline one theoretical perspective that can be used for
multicultural mass communication research and practice. Second, I will attempt
to develop a working model to help mass communication practitioners, teachers,
and researchers include class, ethnicity, gender, and other intersections in
One Multicultural Theoretical Perspective
I approach multicultural communications from a feminist theoretical
perspective. Although this is my starting place, there are many other
theoretical approaches (e.g., critical/cultural theoretical perspectives) which
also address issues of diversity and inclusion. I do not intend to suggest that
my approach is the only or best one; rather it is one that I hope can be a
heuristic theoretical tool for others in the field.
Understanding the range of literature that constitutes feminist scholarship is
difficult due to the multiple definitions of the concept feminism. Feminist
scholars themselves do not agree on a unified definition of the term. Marjorie
DeVault, a feminist sociologist, provides the following conception: "'Feminism'
is a movement, a set of beliefs, that problematize gender inequality ._ . . they
[feminists] value women's lives and concerns, and work to improve women's
status" (1996, p. 31). Feminist theories are based on "a theoretical
acknowledgment of women's traditional devaluation . . . in relation to men with
the assumption that the relationship needs to change" (Steeves, 1987, p. 96).
While many feminist scholars would agree that feminist theoretical perspectives
begin with the study of gender inequality, they also realize the fundamental
importance of recognizing differences among women (e.g., class, ethnicity,
sexual orientation, (dis)abilities, age, religion, cultural heritage) (Connell,
Although feminist approaches represent a diverse and somewhat fragmented
theoretical perspective, it is useful to identify certain central themes. Due
to the importance of including a broad range of perspectives, some feminists may
find the restrictive nature of these definitions and boundaries problematic.
The feminist framework relied on for this essay is not an attempt to create a
categorical, authoritative definition of feminism, but to delimit some of the
common themes among some feminist perspectives in mass communications for the
purpose of building a theoretical foundation for this essay. As Dale Spender
suggests, "at the core of feminist ideas is the crucial insight that there is no
one truth, no one objective method which leads to the production of pure
knowledge" (1980, pp. 5-6). Providing some structure to the multitude of
feminist approaches is not intended to restrict nor legitimize certain
theoretical perspectives over others. Rather, it is meant to be a tool to build
theory in the area.
Definitions of Feminism(s) in the Mass Communications Literature
Angharad Valdivia describes feminist scholarship as the "...theoretical study
of women's oppression and the strategical and political ways that all of us,
building on that theoretical and historical knowledge, can work to end that
oppression" (1995, p. 8). By exploring multicultural spectrums, Valdivia (1995)
encourages researchers to embrace multicultural approaches to identities and
theoretical frameworks (e.g., across spectrums of race, class, ethnicity, sexual
orientation, global regions, cultural settings). Many contemporary feminist
scholars emphasize the importance of including multiple identities in any
definition of feminism. Marsha Houston (1992), for instance, has criticized the
failure of feminist scholars to not only accommodate, but also celebrate women's
diversity in their research.
Perhaps what makes feminist scholarship in mass communications unique is its
focused examination of the media as institutional sources of gender inequities.
Lana Rakow, for example, describes how "...gender research [in the field] should
mean being engaged in questions about the role of communication in the
construction and accomplishment of a gender system" (1986, p. 12). Through
research on how the media contribute to the creation and/or maintenance of this
gendered system, some feminist scholars seek to expose and perhaps transform
these cultural and political gendered values (Creedon, 1993).
Not all feminist scholars in the field, however, would define their goals in
these terms. Definitions of feminism(s) continue to evolve as feminist
scholarship matures in the discipline. Using the following three areas, I will
briefly outline the feminist theoretical perspective relied on for this paper:
standpoint epistemology (accounting for difference in women's experience);
feminist perspectives on research methodology; and gendered power relations.
Epistemology is the study of how humans create knowledge; it examines the
process of how we know things. Feminist scholarship is typically grounded in
women's epistemological frameworks, because women have specialized knowledge to
interpret their experiences from their unique standpoints (Smith, 1987; Harding,
1991). Some feminist scholars argue that traditional academic research and
writing presents knowledge from white, middle class men's perspectives (Harding,
1991; Rakow, 1992). The gender of the researcher, however, does not dictate the
epistemological approach: "Many factors -- institutional, structural, social,
professional -- ensure that most media women, like most media men, will operate
within an identical ideological paradigm" (Gallagher, 1989, p._82).
When describing feminist standpoint epistemology, Sandra Harding explains that
all knowledge production is situated in a social context that is not objective,
value-free, impartial, and neutral (1991, p. 119). According to Harding, women,
as "valuable strangers" within social orders, produce less distorted and partial
representations without claiming the complete, universal, absolute authority of
knowledge (1991, p. 187). Grounding the production of knowledge in women's
lives (or standpoint), therefore, provides a starting point for academic inquiry
that has not been widely used in the past.
Rather than generalize the experiences of all women as universal, however,
standpoint epistemology assumes that each woman has a unique epistemological
framework originating from her ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation,
age, (dis)ability, and other intersections of identity. "Black women's
standpoint," for example, challenges intellectual traditions by "examining the
everyday ideas of Black women" in their music, poetry, community work, etc. as
valuable sources of knowledge (Hill Collins, 1990, p. 15).
As mentioned previously, some feminist epistemological perspectives recognize
that all knowledge is partial and incomplete. This differs from traditional
social scientific perspectives that seek to establish sets of generalizations
derived from empirical testing that present not "final or ultimate knowledge"
but "the best knowledge and the best interpretation" (Tichenor & McLeod, 1989,
p. 29). Some feminist scholars, in contrast, believe that no single
individual's experience can explain everyone else's. If one group's
epistemology is primarily relied upon (i.e., social scientists), then other ways
of knowing will be excluded and ignored. Subordinated groups (i.e., groups who
generally have less access to power in society, like women and/or people of
color) have insights into relations that oppress them that are not available to
members of dominant groups (hooks, 1984, Hill Collins, 1990). When mass
communications scholars investigate and share this subjugated knowledge through
research centered on subjugated groups, they have contributed to increasing the
body of knowledge in the discipline.
Feminist Perspectives on Research Methodology
Just as no singular definition of feminism exists, no particular research
method can be uniquely identified with feminist research. Feminist scholars,
however, have identified certain characteristics that characterize feminist
methodologies. Marjorie DeVault (1990), for example, describes three goals
common to feminist methodologies: centering research practices on women's
concerns and lives, minimizing control and harm of study participants (e.g.,
leveling power hierarchies), and contributing to social action or change that
improves women's lives.
Shulamit Reinharz (1992) similarly describes feminist research methodologies as
a perspective rather than a specific method. Through an extensive review of
self-identified feminist research in many academic disciplines, Reinharz
inductively suggests many common themes that characterize feminist research
methodologies, including the following:
y designing research to create social change (praxis);
y conducting research to give women voice (i.e., present women's
epistemologies) without exploiting the study's participants (e.g.,
participatory and non-hierarchical research);
y recognizing human diversity (i.e., a broad range of human experience
across intersections of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, et
y acknowledging the researcher's own social and cultural position in
relation to the research.
Reinharz describes inadequately diversified research as "a sign of
methodological weakness and moral failure, an impermissible reflection of a lack
of effort and unwitting prejudice" (1992, p. 255).
Publishing specifically in the communications discipline, Karen Foss and Sonja
Foss (1989) confirm the use of many of these feminist methodological
perspectives in the field. According to these authors, feminist research
emphasizes process and wholeness rather than structure and parts; recognizes the
construction of knowledge as interconnected partial truths; strives for ethical
cooperation among the study's participants and the researcher; identifies
women's experiences as meaningful and appropriate topics for research; and works
toward social change.
Praxis (or practice) is an important component of feminist methodological
perspectives. Praxis refers to practical action: The direct application of
feminist research findings to improve the condition of women's lives. As
Shulamit Reinharz indicates, "feminist research aims to create social change"
(1992, p. 240). Feminist research and methodologies, therefore, typically are
connected to activist concerns like consciousness-raising, policy
recommendations, and other practical contributions to women's welfare.
Gendered Power Relations
Feminism is concerned with gender as asymmetrical power relations rather than
solely the study of sex roles or gender socialization (Charles, 1996).
Transforming power relations means envisioning a new perspective that relocates
access to power and alters dominant explications of power. Margaret Gallagher,
indeed, has emphasized that, "consideration of the concept of power -- its
nature, how it is defined, how it is expressed and maintained -- is central to
any feminist analysis" (1989, p. 84). This paper relies on a feminist power
model based on the work of Davina Cooper (1994, 1995). Cooper's approach to
power centers on "power as the matrix of forces structuring social life" (1995,
p. 2). This model describes four abstract modes or classifications of power:
1. Ideology or "the range of interpretative frameworks and
meanings through which social relations, practices, and society
generally are both constituted and understood;"
2. Force or "the subjugation of the will or the body of another
by physical or psychological means: coercion, threats, violence,
3. Discipline or "the tactics and technologies of disciplinary
organisations [and] social systems whose rules, practices, and
procedures impact upon the ways in which people, institutions, and
social life operate;" and
4. Resources or "the ability to create a material advantage that can
be acquired and possessed" (Cooper, 1994, pp. 447-448).
These abstract modes of power are not static categories, but overlap and
interact to create a fluid, contradictory discourse of power expressed through
certain concrete historical forms. The Resources mode, for example, is
practically deployed in specific historical contexts through the use of such
forms as legal rights, money, and skills.
The four modes of power are not exercised equally by everyone, everywhere.
Access to power (in any mode) depends on an individual's social status or
vectors (e.g., race, gender, class) and the site of each power relation (e.g.,
geographic, institutional, or systemic). The nature of access, the form
employed, and the impact of the power relation all correspond to the social
vectors and sites for each individual. Many feminist scholars in mass
communications would argue that combining white, male, and middle class vectors
typically permit more privileged access to modes of power (Creedon, 1993, Rakow,
1993). Similarly, some women's access to power modes may be increased in a
domestic site (e.g., the home) versus an institutional one (e.g., the courts).
Cooper's approach "identifies power as the facilitation of particular outcomes,
processes and practices [that] may include the maintenance and reproduction of
the status quo or, alternatively, its dismantling or transformation" (1995, p.
18). Using this model, power is not necessarily pejorative and can, therefore,
include the supposition of feminist empowerment.
Having briefly outlined the feminist theoretical perspectives relied upon for
this analysis, the second half of this paper will apply these theoretical
concepts to an approach to genuine, comprehensive multicultural communications
research and practice in our field. For this analysis, the following three
areas will be considered: the examination of diversity as a matrix; coalition
building in the field; and feminist empowerment.
A Multicultural Matrix
How do we incorporate race, class, gender and other intersections into our
everyday thinking? In my statistics class the other day, the professor was
explaining that additive models are much easier to work with than multiplicative
ones. That makes sense. In an additive model, I can look at each component
separately (one at a time) and determine its independent contribution to the
model. Multiplicative models are not so simple. When I multiply components
together, they become merged and impossible to separate.
Including race, class, gender, and other intersections in our thinking and work
is difficult due to their multiplicative nature. It is so much easier to think
of each of these social vectors separately as additive models. Additive models
are more intuitive and easier to visualize (see Figure 1). For most of my
academic life, I have been trained to think in a linear (i.e., additive) manner.
So, I tend to think about, for example, women or Hispanics
[--- WMF Graphic Goes Here ---]
or lesbians and then sum up that knowledge, assuming it adequately describes
When I start thinking in terms of multiplication, it gets a little more
confusing. Trying to think about all social vectors simultaneously is much more
difficult. In Figure_2, I have only included four social vectors so the diagram
itself would not be too complicated to read (we need to include many more
vectors in our thinking that do not appear in this diagram). Social vectors are
overlapping and multiplicative, even if our thought processes are linear.
When we envision social vectors as a multicultural matrix and not an additive
model, we begin to realize the necessity of simultaneously including race,
class, gender, and other intersections in our thinking and work. Any linear
separation of vectors is artificial and incomplete.
Let me give you a couple of examples. In this excerpt from her poem entitled
The Horns of My Dilemma, Maria Jastrzebska describes how others typically cannot
see beyond one of her social vectors (i.e., disability) to realize she is a
I seem to spend
Half my time
I had horns
On my head
To look the part
Like the almost extinct
Wild bison of eastern Poland.
So children could stop and point
Look mummy that lady's got horns!
Before being hurried along
By some embarrassed adult....
[--- WMF Graphic Goes Here ---]
Here are my tears, I say
Salty and wet like yours
Here are my hopes
Which need tending
Like anything you want to grow
And what hurts worse
Than any pain
Is the denial.
Why is it people
Either think I'm just like them
Like nothing on this earth
And no part of their lives?
If I can live with this dilemma
It doesn't seem too much
To ask others
How I'm different
But very ordinary
Ordinary and very different (1996, pp. 151-153).
Focusing on a single social vector to summarize an individual's life is
dehumanizing, unethical, and superficial.
Another example is the political activism of a community of working class Black
women that taught Karen Brodkin Sacks (1988) to re-vision her concept of
leadership. Rather than conventional hierarchical leadership models, these
women valued network centers of influence that "centerwomen" formed and
maintained. The subjugated knowledge of these women who were working class and
African-American produced alternative ways of interpreting experience.
Marsha Houston explains how the interlocking identities of women of color
produce a "multiple jeopardy:"
[W]omen of color do not experience sexism in addition to racism, but
sexism in the context of racism; thus, they cannot be said to bear
an additional burden that white women do not bear, but to bear an
altogether different burden from that borne by white women
(Houston, 1992, p. 49).
Similarly, Patricia Hill Collins (1990) describes how African-American women who
file lawsuits against employers for violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act are
forced to choose between race and sex discrimination rather than citing both in
their complaint. She advocates we adopt a "both/and" rather than an "either/or"
approach to interlocking social vectors.
How do we accomplish this "both/and" conceptualization? If we practice the
feminist research methods I sketched in the first section of this paper, we will
incorporate this multicultural matrix in our research. Adopting these feminist
perspectives in our daily work experiences (e.g., journalists who include
multicultural sources in every story; teachers who integrate multicultural
perspectives in every class session) will help create holistic environments that
resist dividing people into parts (or isolated social vectors). We need to
consciously design our research to include multicultural participants and
address their concerns and interests directly in our research questions. Since
recognizing this multicultural matrix in our work is essential if we are to
understand the subjugated, partial knowledges of our participants, we simply
should not conduct research that does not include and address multiple social
Let me explain this point using my own research as an example. I will present
a paper at the International Communications Association (ICA) convention in July
based on a number of interviews I conducted with white female professors in the
field. Since this project was intended to be an exploratory study, I used a
convenience sample that happened to be all white. From the first day I started
planning the project, I could have located and requested participation from
professors representing many social vectors. This process would have taken more
time and effort, but I believe the research never should have been started
without this approach.
I also needed to directly discuss social vectors with my participants. I find
that I am reluctant to ask questions about race, ethnicity, sexual orientation,
(dis)ability, et al. because they make me feel uncomfortable. I didn't want to
make my participants feel uncomfortable either (after all, they could terminate
the interview, and I would be left without any data!). Acknowledging this
uneasiness is a key part of the process. As Harlon Dalton recommends, "Simply
put everything on the table. Own up to the tension. Acknowledge the risks"
(1995, p. 48). We need to take risks to begin to transform our thinking towards
multicultural matrices rather than linear, additive models. This transformation
is the only way we will be able to incorporate intersections of race, class,
gender, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, ethnicity, age, religion, and many
others in our everyday thinking, lives, and work.
Feminist teachers, researchers, and practitioners need to develop a willingness
to examine their own privilege and put themselves at risk (Spitzack and Carter,
1988). Since "none of us are simply victims or oppressors" (Phelan, 1990, p.
429), the work of communications researchers and practitioners needs to focus on
their own privilege. Papusa Molina envisions "privilege [as] accepting and
recognizing the power that you have because of your privileges and using that
power precisely to transform the institution that provides power and privilege
to you" (Penny Rosenwasser, 1992, p. 5).
A Transformative Bridge
The second idea I want to discuss concerns the gap between mass communication
practitioners and academic scholars in our field. Kathryn Cirksena (1996)
describes how the applied research that is characteristic of our field tends to
contradict feminist research goals. Some of the women I interviewed for that
ICA paper echoed this view, describing the difficulty of teaching feminist ideas
in the practical, "skills-based" classes typically found in mass communications.
I want to turn this argument on its ear by suggesting that the professional and
practical orientation of our field makes it the perfect site in the academy for
feminist work. Feminism is about applying theory to the "real" world and
creating changes in women's lives (e.g., praxis or practice). Since our field
is more "applied" than other disciplines, scholars and practitioners should be
able to work together to incorporate feminist praxis into mass communications.
This goal may sound idealistic considering that, first, corporate interests
control our field's research agenda and, second, traditional scholarship tends
to discredit activist research. Things do change; persistent feminist voices
are heard. Ramona Rush and Autumn Grubb-Swetnam (1996), for example, describe
the forty rejection letters they received from publishers in the late 1980s who
found the activist stand in Communications at the Crossroads: The Gender Gap
Connection (Ramona Rush and Donna Allen, 1989) unsuitable for social science
publications. Following the publication of Rush and Allen's book, the number of
feminist activist publications has continued to increase in mass communications.
Creating a transformative feminist bridge between practitioners and scholars in
our field will take deliberate, focused effort on everyone's part. Paradigm
shifts don't happen by themselves and feminists in mass communications need to
generate collective action. Change cannot occur without coalition building
(Johnson Reagon, 1983) and dialogue with allies (Dalton, 1995). Let me outline
a few practical suggestions toward this goal.
Feminist scholars need to ask themselves, "who are we writing for?" If we want
feminist scholarship to support a mass based movement, then we need to produce
texts that everyone can understand. Ann Bookman and Sandra Morgen (1988)
describe the importance of "scholar-activists" who contribute to clarifying
feminist goals. In mass communications, we study and use the media: What
better way to create new forms to present our work? bell hooks (Let's Get Real,
1993) goes so far as to suggest we create commercials for a feminist political
party. Mass communications practitioners can certainly contribute to this
Practitioners, researchers, and teachers often work in isolation. We need to
recognize that this kind of solitude does not promote coalition building. I
suggest we enhance and organize additional collective feminist movement among
scholars, teachers, and practitioners within the discipline, with regular
meetings in various venues (e.g., mass-mediated, small group, community-based,
Internet list-servs, etc.). Professors, practitioners, students, and
researchers could all contribute to develop organized activist strategies and
tactics for multicultural communications in the field.
Feminist scholars in mass communications need to continue to study and expose
the privilege that sustains oppressive hierarchies in our culture. When
feminists examine privilege, the partitioning of feminist studies under the
topic of "women" that Margaret Gallagher (1989) describes is no longer possible.
As bell hooks (Let's Get Real, 1993) suggests, feminism is about everybody --
feminist work that helps culturally privileged groups recognize their privilege
will generate additional support for social justice.
Building bridges is hard work. It takes a great deal of commitment, struggle,
and risk. Coalitions cannot form if practitioners and scholars do not meet each
other half way across the bridge. As Bernice Johnson Reagon explains:
I feel as if I'm gonna keel over any minute and die. That is
often what it feels like if you're really doing coalition work.
Most of the time you feel threatened to the core and if you don't,
you're not really doing no coalescing (1983, p. 356).
All of us in the mass communications field need to work (and I mean work)
together in order to build transformative bridges toward multicultural
Transforming power relations in order to empower culturally subordinated groups
means envisioning a new perspective that relocates access to power and alters
dominant explanations of power. Sonja Johnson (1989) describes the traditional
concept of power as defined and identified in patriarchal language. These
patriarchal assumptions about power cause women to consider themselves powerless
since they do not identify with or act in behaviors traditionally labeled
powerful. Johnson contends that power is not "out there" in some external
location that men can distribute to women like a commodity but that "the locus
of all power is within us" (1987, p. 184). In fact, "genuine" power is a
positive, generative source that women have always had (Johnson, 1989).
Similar to Johnson's notion of generative power, alternative, positive forms of
(em)power(ment) characterize much of feminist scholarship. Feminist scholars
like bell hooks (1984) have encouraged women to transform the meaning of power
from control and domination to new concepts that are life-affirming and
creative. Power defined as ability, strength, action (resulting in personal
accomplishment), and energy can be generated through activities involving
consensus, rotating tasks, and internal democracy (hooks, 1984). hooks
advocates the political education of women in order to raise women's
consciousness of the power they can possess and exercise.
Peggy Chinn describes power as a process everyone participates in, since "power
is the energy from which action arises" (1995, p. 8). By shifting the
patriarchal emphasis on possessing power (e.g., "power over") to focus on how
power is used and with what consequences, Chinn envisions a transformative power
that creates harmony with others and meets collective goals. According to
Chinn, empowerment is achieved through emphasizing collective integrity and
responsibility, where every individual's contribution is fundamental to
Naomi Wolf (1993) outlines her conceptualization of "power feminism" with the
following core tenets:
1. Women matter as much as men do.
2. Women have the right to determine their lives.
3. Women's experiences matter.
4. Women have the right to tell the truth about their experiences.
5. Women deserve more of whatever it is they are not getting
enough of because they are women: respect, self-respect, education,
safety, health, representation, money (Wolf, 1993, p. 138).
Wolf urges women to organize around the power they have (e.g., coalition
building within community networks currently used by women; exercising consumer
power; creating space for the recognition, commendation, and history of women,
Knowledge and feminist teaching are vital to the empowerment of oppressed
people. Hill Collins theorizes "power as energy, capacity, and
self-actualization" (1990, p._161) that comes from subordinated knowledge. By
theorizing an epistemology grounded in Black women's experiences, she presents
viable cases of practical empowerment (e.g., communities that are empowered by
othermothers, bloodmothers, etc.). Individual empowerment, however, is not
sufficient. Although "there is always choice, and the power to act, ... only
collective action can effectively generate lasting social transformation of
political and economic institutions" (Hill Collins, 1990, p. 237). Feminist
scholars, teachers, and practitioners in mass communications can contribute to
the process of relinquishing privilege and the decentering of dominant groups
through their coalition work.
Feminist theorizing that (re)defines and reclaims power is critical. Young
(1992) argues that power relations are intractably related to justice in
society. Hartsock confirms that:
Political change is a process of transforming not only
ourselves but also our most basic assumptions about humanity and
our sense of human possibility. Political change means
restructuring our organizations to reflect our constantly changing
understanding of the possible and to meet the new needs and new
problems we create. Political change requires strategies that
attack the interlocking structures of control at all levels. At
bottom, political change is a process of changing power
relationships so that the meaning of power itself is transformed
[italics added] (Hartsock, 1981, p._16).
Scholars, therefore, need to transform definitions of power to focus on all
women's empowerment. Identifying differences among women's access to power and
levels of privilege will also refute the essentializing assumption that all
women are equally oppressed by patriarchy. Cooper (1995) sketches several ways
that culturally subordinated groups can access transformative power. She
identifies strategies of resistance through the (re)deployment of institutional
power (i.e., in the schools, the courts, etc.); the redistribution of access to
various resources (e.g., money, property, skills); and the exposure of dominant
forms of power (e.g., privilege).
The field of mass communications is the perfect site for feminist
praxis/practice. Communication teachers, practitioners, and scholars need to
transform their thinking to envision multicultural matrices and build the
transformative bridges that will enable the empowerment of all culturally
subordinated groups. Multicultural mass communications is possible; we just
have to work toward its realization.
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 I encourage scholars from other research perspectives to write similar
works on their theory and practice of multicultural communications. These
essays could then be compiled into a single volume to illustrate multiple
theoretical paths toward comprehensive inclusion of diversity in our research
 The terms feminist scholar and social scientist are not necessarily
mutually exclusive. Some self-identified feminist scholars (e.g., liberal
feminists) may generate research within traditional social scientific
frameworks. As stated previously, the purpose here is to build a theoretical
foundation for this paper, rather than provide a single, universal definition of
 Feminist scholars do not claim that each of these characteristics is unique
or exclusive to feminist methodological approaches. It is possible that certain
methodological perspectives identified by feminist scholars may be held by other
research perspectives (including social scientists).
 I have temporarily deleted the cite of this paper in this footnote due to
the blind review process.
 Patriarchy has been defined as historically, "any system of organization
(political, economic, industrial, financial, religious, or social) in which the
overwhelming number of upper positions in hierarchies are occupied by males."
(Goldberg, 1993, p. 14).