Marxist Theory: Mass Media Ownership and Control

The marxist perspective on the control and ownership of the mass media.


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  • Created by: FizzyTrev
  • Created on: 27-01-16 13:57
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  • Marxist Theory: Mass Media Ownership and Control
    • Traditional Marxists
      • The owners of media control the content of the media
        • Burnham 1949: Although owners may not directly control the media, more power had been given to managers and editors (white collar workers), who are of a similar social background.
        • Transmits a pro-capitalist message
      • Marcuse (1964): "Bread and Circuses" - the masses are kept entertained by trivial media programmes such as televised sporting events and celebrity gossip to distract them from real world issues e.g famine, war, crime, etc.
        • The mass media also promotes "commodity fetishism"; the want to buy more items and materials as they are released, the valuing of materialism and bought goods.
          • $8 billion dollars was spent on advertising globally in 2014; adverts are also targeting children more, meaning that younger groups are socialised into these values.
      • Miliband (1973): The mass media has replaced religion as the "new opium of the people", providing the masses with a feeling of well-being.
    • Neo-Marxists
      • Agree that the media transmits norms, values, beliefs, and information supporting a specific ideology (capitalism), but do not see this as an issue caused primarily by media ownership
        • Althusser (1970s): The media is used as a piece of ideological state apparatus (ISA) to control the ideology of the masses
      • The media assists in legitimation, which makes the capitalist system seem fair to working class people
      • Hegemony: through the dominance of the ISA and the RSA (repressive state apparatus), the ruling class is able to perpetuate its ideologies and dominant culturally, although other views are expressed in the media.
        • Biased towards favouring the ruling class: Harrison (1985) wrote an article with the GUMG on media coverage of the Glasgow rubbish strike. Found that news coverage focused on health hazards and ignored the strikers' points of view and grievances. Managers and experts werre consulted often but strikers were not, leading to the conclusion that coverage was pro-establishment and anti-union.


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