Social Representations of Teachership Based on Cover Images of Finnish Teacher Magazine: A Visual Rhetoric Approach


  • Jari Martikainen


Media plays an important role in the formation of social representations. This study examines the cover images of Finnish Teacher Magazine published by the Trade Union of Education as means of communicating social representations of teachership among its readership consisting of teachers and student teachers. In order to critically discuss the structure of the cover images and their implications in terms of teachers’ professional identity, the study applies a visual rhetoric approach to the study of visually mediated social representations. The data consist of 138 cover images of Teacher Magazine between the years 2013 and 2017. The analysis of visual rhetoric was conducted using content analysis and semiotic analysis that provided means of examining both the visual form of the cover images and meanings communicated through them. Even though this study detects a variety of social representations of teachership, it also identifies a highly homogeneous type of teacher throughout the imagery, which is understood to present the members of the Trade Union with an ideal type of their profession. Consequently, cover images of Teacher Magazine appear to be vehicles of inclusion and exclusion, strengthening certain social representations of teachership and marginalizing others.