A2 Communication and Culture Revision

Key A2 Concepts

  • Powercontrol and influence over other people and their actions.
  • Ideology-concerned with how we as individuals understand the world in which we live.’
  • Identitythe sense we have of ourselves, which we then ‘represent’ ‘elsewhere’: a person’s social meaning.
  • Narrative- refers to the ways in which meanings are structured as stories.
  • Mode of Addressdescribes the way in which a text 'speaks' to its audience.
  • DiscourseA type of language used in a particular context or by a particular group.
  • Technologyall of the things we are surrounded by daily. 'technological determination' means the developments are a primary cause of social change and cultural perception.
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Marxism 1

  • For Marxists, the system we live in divides everyone up into two basic classes: bosses (Bourgeoisie) and workers. 
  • A structuralist theory- sees the individuall as less important than the social structure of society. An unequal relationship between two economic classes. 


Marxists argue that the working class rarely challange capitalism because those who control the economy also control the family, education, media, religion.

Louis Althusser (1971) argued that the function of those cultural institutions is to maintain and legitimate class inequality. 

Most of us are not aware of our 'real' indentity as exploited and oppressed workers - false class conciousness. Our identity is the result of social control. 

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Marxism 2 Perspective on Culture

  • Elite is just ruling class culture and that the ruling class claim is better than other cultural forms. 
  • By defining elite culture as 'better' or 'posh' culture, the masses feel excluded from it and turn to popular culture as theirs.
  • Popular Culture is all set up to reinforce the class structure. 
  • Popular culture is all about distracting the working classes from the realisation that they are being oppressed, This is reffered to as false conciousness. 
  • Popular culture distracts the working classes by giving them things to occupy themseves with other than politics.
  • Popular culture tricks the working class into believing they have more life oppurtunities than they actually have. 
  • Shopping is also part of populalr culture and cheap products also act as a diversion. 
  • Culture has become an industry- it sells dominant ideas to the masses.
  • The marxist view thinks culture is a bad thing, it is a method of controlling the masses. If the masses came to understand the purpose of culture they would rebel. 
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Marxism 3 Key Terms

  • Base: The basic system for organising a culture- in our case capitalism. We exchange out labour for capital which we exchange for goods. Goods have come to be seen as status smbols. 
  • Super Structure: The secondary agents of socialisation which teach values /norms that support the base system. 
  • One Dimentional Man: Workers are defined by their jobs- their economic productivity defines their value. Class identity. 
  • Alienation: Work becomes our definition of ourselves we are seperated from the more creative aspects of ourselves. 
  • False Needs: Goods= status we buy more than we need. We buy labels rather than goods.
  • Commodity Fetishism: The good we buy only give happiness for a short time so we buy more and more chasing the elusive happiness. 
  • Dominant Ideology: The most powerful beliefs in any given culture. 
  • The Elite: Those who are rich and powerful 
  • Repressive State Apparatus: The army/ police. The open/ obvious toolds of social control. 
  • Ideological State Apparatus: Mechanism for controlling our beliefs and values. We come to see certain things as 'normal' so punish those who appear 'abnormal.'
  • False Conciousness: We dont really understand how our culture works, believing in myths. Chomsky's bread and Circus idea. 
  • Conspiracy Theory: Secondary agents ot socialisation form the elite-woking together to teach the masses values which will maintain their own poweful position. 
  • Hegemony: Implicit messages in cultural products which teach core beliefs and values that support ruling class ideology
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Post Modernism 1

In contrast to the Marxist view that we are all moulded by the elite and the tools at their disposal, post modernists claim that identity in the contemporary world is very different from in the past. Today there is much more freedom to do what we want and to who we want to be. 'a work in preogress,' with 'fluid' identities. 

Anderson (1996)

- our self concepts have become more fluid

- Morality has dissolved- realitvism means there are no fixedf and absoloute moral standards.

-No distinciton between high and low culture- pick and mix with styles. 

- Globilastion has had a dramatic effect on the world - McCluhan's 'global village.' 

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Post Modernism 2 Key Terms

  • Multi- Cultural Society- A group with a number of different culture co-existing side by side.
  • Cultural Implision- Cultures fold in on each other and combine the create a pic 'n mix oppurtunity. 
  • Fluid Identity- Ourselves are de-centred, there is no solid core, we are constantly changing and evoloving. 
  • Relavatism- There are no absoloute moral positions- there are many different norms, all valid and acceptable. 
  • Style of Substance- Surface style has become more significant to our definition of self than a fixed set of beliefs. We are what we buy. 
  • No boundaries, of space or time or anything really- Relativism means there are absoloutly no rules any more anything is possible. Much evidence of this in popular culture. 
  • Irony- Nothing is as it seems
  • Intertextuality- One text reffering to another. Making the connection assists the meaning. 
  • Hyper-reality- Difficult to seperate the mass media and reality. 
  • Self reflective- Post modern angst- work in progress, are we okay? 
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Market Liberalism

  • Free economic markets in conjunction with democracy and personal freedom provides the best political model for well-being and prosperity. 

It Embraces

  • Free Market
  • Supply and Demand
  • Competition 
  • Profitability
  • Market Efficiency 
  • Personal Liberty 
  • Capitalism

Free Market

  • No intervention or regulation by government
  • Items are sold at mutually beneficial value
  • What you get is worth more to you than what you sell
  • Price based on supply and demand

Supply and Demand

  • The gourment coffee business, pioneered in the US by Starbucks, revealed a demand for high quality fresh coffee. 
  • Starbucks sales growth showed that consumers would pay lots more for this type of coffee
  • McDonald's and Burger King, began offering such coffee to help satisfy the demand. 

Personal Freedom

  • Market Liberals believe in individual freedom as a central concept
  • Freedom is found by not being chained to state, landlord, employer etc
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Queer Theory

Identitities are not fixed and do not determine who we are. 

'Gender Trouble'- by Judith Butler

  • Nothing within your identity is fixed
  • You identify is little more than a pile of things which you have previously expressed, or what has been said about you. 
  • There is not really an 'inner self.' We come to believe we gave one through the repition of discources about it. 
  • Gender, like other aspects of identity, is a performance. 
  • People can therefore change
  • The binary divide between masculinity and femininity is a social construction built on the binary divide between men and women. 
  • We should challange the traditional views of masculinity and femininity, and sexuality, by causing 'gender trouble.' 
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-the equation of personal happiness with consumption

-and the purchase of material possesions

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Feminists criticise male dominated society - also known as a patriarchal society.

Feminists criticise western society because of ***ual objectification, exploitation and ***ualisation.

The media represent women as *** objects, mothers or housewives.

Popular culture perpetuates this inequality through magazines, music videos and adverts.

Liberal feminists - media

Radical feminists - men

Social feminists - economic structure

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Its quite good

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