Media Production: time and space

Principles of capitalist enterprise

  • Profit motive 
  • Competition
  • Merging of capitalist enterprise and technological development makes a continuous revolutionising of 'the screen' 
  • Who/ what owns media? 

Media concentration - "as a result of mergers, takeover, deregulation, privatisation, globalisation and technological change, a substantial amount of mainstream media ownership increasingly rests in fewer hands" (Devereux, 2009, p. 91) 

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Mass (consumer) culture 1920 - 1970

  • Cinema, radio, TV, newspapers, magazines
  • Marketing, advertising and 'sales cultures'. 
  • The massification of media
    • Large scale - can reach most people
    • Homogenised -standardised products
    • Centralised - controlled from one place
    • Collective - identity and coping with modern life
  • Mars Attacks - H.G. Wells, 'War of the Worlds' broadcast as radio programme in US (1938); 6 million people listened; Narrated in style of real news broadcast; 1 million people panicked
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'Mass' turns from 'potential' to 'problem'

  • The masses' = the 'miltitude', 'mob' - revolutionary potential of numbers (French revolution and overthrow of capitalism) 
  • Why was revolution not happening? - the rise of fascism; persecution of Jews; growth of 'visually dazzling' media and consumer culture. 
  • The problem of 'the mass':
    • Thoughtless crowd
    • Easily manipulated by leaders
    • No connection with others (alienated) 
    • Dangerous
    • Only thing in common: message in the medium
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Neo-Marxist interpretations of capitalist media

During the expansion of media in the first half of the 20th century, Marxist scholars elaborated different critiques of what they termed mass culture

  • Frankfurt School = critique of mass culture
  • Althusser = ideology
  • Gramsci = hegemony
  • Habermas = democratic potential
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Karl Marx's base-superstructure model

Suggests economic domination and ideological domination

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The Frankfurt School

Institute for Social Research, University of Frankfurt, Germany established in 1923

New York (Columbia University, 1933)

Returned to Frankfurt in 1949

  • Mass Culture Industry
    • Creative art - created for its instrinsic worth and that makes you think
    • Mass produced media - created to make moeny and that stops you think
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Standardisation and pseudo-individualisation


  • Media content is repetitive and formulaic 
  • Songs are all the same; musicials are all the same
  • Also in production - promotion, distribution

Veneer of individuality and creativity (pseudo-individualism)

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Media Globalisation: what is happening?

  • Concentration in media business - fewer and larger media corporations 
  • Movement of various media products (e.g. film, news) from 'the West' to 'the Rest' 
  • More, but selevt media content on 'the world' (national, local and international)
  • The US is the largest producer and exporter of media products
  • EU exports and imports
  • Mexico and Brazil produce and export in Latin America. 

The consequences: 

  • Cultural imperialism (homogenisation, Americanisation) 
  • Cultural mixing (hybridisation and creolisation) 
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Cultural Imperialism

Development of local/ regional media markets

  • In 1980's, 80% of US products went to West Europe, Japan and Australia
  • Brazilian TV 'Globo' exports to 178 countries
  • Satellite - Egyptian Space Channel 
  • Bollywood - Al Jazeera 

National/ cultural diasporas increasingly look to (spiritual) homeland for media entertainment and news. 

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