Perspective Overview - The Mass Media

A (very) breif explination of Sociological Theory in the Media. 

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  • Created by: Ruby
  • Created on: 12-06-12 12:33


- The Media create false needs e.g. through advertising

- Portray ruling class ideology

- The media present what is important and relevent to the ruling class e.g. stock prices make the national news.  - There is a ‘logic of capitalism’ which means hat the institutions of society will always be used as instruments of power, serving the capitalist class  -Marcuse (1964) – the media promotes consumerism and gives people false needs. 

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Marxist Criticisms

- Not all journalists think the same way, not all stories are covered from the same viewpoint.
- The media doesn’t always reflect the opinions of the dominant class.
Pluralist point out that media audiences aren’t completely stupid, they don’t believe everything they read/see/hear.
Postmodernist see Marxist views about economic power irrelevant in todays society. 

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Marxism (Ownership)

- Media owners control what we see in the media.
- Owners exploit their position to manipulate the content of the media.
- Capitalist owners tell editors what to include and what views.
- The media portray views that serve the interests of capitalism

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Neo-Marxism (Ownership)

- The media reflects the ideas of the ruling class (including media owners).
- The control of media is indirect.
- The world view of the elite class is broadcast and reinforced by the media.
- The values and ideas of the ruling class are presented in a natural common sense way resulting in cultural hegemony.

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- Consumption is more important than class identity.
- People’s identity comes from what they buy and what kind of culture media they choose to consume – the media shows people what they can buy and what lifestyles they can choose form.
 - There are no dominant set of ideas. Society presents many choices and alternative opinions.
- There isn’t a “unified culture” but many voices adding their opinions and one view is not seen as better or worse than another. 
- The 'not so new media' it has always been interactive e.g. agony aunts.  - Increased choice in the media

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Lyotard – the key thing about postmodernist condition was the rejection of what he called ‘grand narratives’
Baudrill – media images actually take the place of reality.
Critisisms - Postmodernists are too theoretical and not much eveidence to support it. 

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Pluralism (Ownership)

- The media reflects the values and beliefs of society.
- Society gets the media to do what THEY want.
- Media outlets have to respond to consumer demand, so it doesn’t matter who own the media but what the market want. 
 - However the recognize that some views may be expressed more than others.
- This isn’t because of bias however, its merely reflects the most common views in society. 

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- Society is made up of lots of different interacting parts and the state oversees them to keep them in check.
- The content of media reflects the values of society.
- The free market is key to a pluralist media – media which reflect the views of society will sell.
- Jones (1986) – study on the industrial disputes in the UK media presentation. There was balanced and equal reporting even though individual reporting may have been bias.  

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- Katz and Lazarsfeld ( 1955) – Media during the US election.
- Media is often severely limited and rather unpredictable. It is difficult to influence people through the media.
- People are not exposed to all media.
- Peoples attitudes can distort their understanding of current affairs. 

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Controlong the media is difficult because:  - Money – News organizations run on a budget. Stories and reports often come from where they already have reporters. If no reporter is based there the news may be brought by agencies.
- Competition – Editors will select news that makes their paper the most popular that day. News stories can be sensationalized or celebrity gossip if it will sell media. 
 - Time constraints – easily available stories often make the ‘cut’. Meaning a limited number of ‘contacts’ are used giving  a limited view point.
- Technical constraints – Some places are easier to get cameras, microphones and journalists too. A story may make  the news based on how easy it is to report.

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Pluralism Critisisms

- They assume to easily that the media is diverse and neutral without showing evidence of it.
- The people who tend to carry out studies of the media often work within it so would want to portray a good image. (Jones was a BBC Radio news journalist)

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- There is a symbolic aniliation of women due to male owners of the media.

- Women have a 'shelf life' in the media

- Women are in the media for the 'male gaze'

- Pornography - 'Porn is the theory, **** is the practice' 

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- Very much for the new media

- The internet alowes free speach and enhances democracy

- The new media increases consumer choice

- There has been and e-comerce revolution.

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A good summary of the perspectives views on media and its function in society. This can be further developed by researching and identifying key theorists and a very good basis for essay planning.

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