Lab Member Fall 2013 – Spring 2014
Christina completed her undergraduate honors thesis under the guidance of Leah Gerber, Ben Minteer, and Karin Ellison.
Globally, many species of shark are facing rapid population decline. This is due to increasing fishing pressures, primarily from the booming demand in China for shark fins for soup. In recent years there has also been an increase in international shark conservation efforts, but there is still a long way to go in gathering support for those efforts. Public perception of sharks in America has been greatly influenced by negative media representations of them, Jaws being one of the most influential. Many of these representations are based on inaccurate information that has been disproven by science, but still lingers in popular culture. Symbolic Interactionism Theory proved to be a useful framework for unpacking the connections between public perception, mainstream culture and media, and conservation regarding sharks. A social psychological theory, Symbolic Interactionism describes the ways that people construct meaning about a topic through direct and indirect interactions, and how this meaning can change on individual, social, and cultural levels. By changing the way sharks are perceived and represented to the public, these important and incredible animals may gather the support they need to continue living in the world’s oceans.