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Unmasking Sociological Theories in Media

Leigh Wilkins
Leigh Wilkins
Faculty Advisor(s)

Media studies can be a powerful delivery tool to bridge the gap between public lack of education regarding sociology theories and how films can illustrate the damaging power structures in traditional entertainment rhetoric. This research will examine how sociological theories are commonly expressed in well-known films and elaborate on the importance of this representation in the media. Focusing on the education of the audience on sociological theory by helping to bridge connections within films the listener enjoys in hopes of sparking more conversation surrounding sociological theory and encouraging philosophical conversation regarding the importance of media representation. Simultaneously tackling what draws the audience to specific film series and the film producer's usage of communication theories to do so. It will further communicate how films are utilized to break down social norms. Addressing toxic masculinity, representation of disabilities – both mental and physical, the recent uprise in “girl power” on television, and the influence of the “altruist.” Looking at how this affects the youth watching these films and their perception of society addressing the generational differences in these portrayals and the influence they have had and are likely to have on future generations to come. Thus allowing the researcher as well as the consumer to draw connections to other forms of media such as news outlets, billboard advertisements, podcasts, books, and much more. Recognizing the significant relationship between the fields of media studies and sociological theory while exhibiting the importance of content analysis this research will be using social media platforms to spread accurate educational content. Further exhibiting the reach social media can have further emphasizing the importance of properly utilizing educational social media platforms.


Leigh Wilkins, a senior from Durham, NC, will graduate in May with a double major in Sociology (concentration in Criminology) and Communication. At Salem College her leadership experience has included founding a disability advocacy group, leading the spiritual life group, and serving as secretary for the Pre-Law Society. She has been a Resident Assistant and interned with the Director of Student Support and Conduct. Leigh is focused on learning and making a difference in her community, and she is ready to keep that momentum going as she grows as she starts an internship at Disney after graduation.