Media terminology

Aerial shot
A view from directly overhead to afford a clear view – sometimes used to emphasize the spectacle. A crane shot is usually necessary to achieve this (sometimes called a bird’s eye shot)
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An often- repeated character type or representation which is instantly recognisable to an audience
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Attitudes, beliefs and values
Terms commonly used when discussing the audience for media products and the factors influencing the reception of media messages.
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The positions people adopt in relation to a particular issue, e.g. Being for or against foxhunting.
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Deeply held views, e.g. A belief in the principle of human equality or a belief in God.
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Represent the moral or ideological structure within which beliefs and attitudes are formed, e.g. Belief in Christianity or Islam.
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The groups or individuals targeted by producers as the intended consumers of media texts.
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BCU (short for ‘big close up’)
A close up camera shot, particularly of an actor’s face, showing prominent detail and facial expression which creates intimacy between the actor and the audience
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Circular Narrative
A narrative in which the story-line ends where it began.
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Close up (and variations)
Come in many different forms (extreme, big, medium). Observe reactions and emotions. Draw the viewer closer to the scene and makes them feel closer to the different characters in the scene.
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Closed Text
And media text that is anchored in such a way as to restrict the number of ways in which it can be interpreted.
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The arrangement fee of visual elements within the frame, for clarity, balance or aesthetic judgement.
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A meaning attributable to an image beyond the obvious denotational level.
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Content Analysis
A media research technique involving systematic analysis of the contents of a media product.
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Continuity Editing
An editing style that aims to present the text in a linear and chronological manner to emphasize the real-time movement of the narrative and to create a sense of realism for the viewer by giving the impression of continuous filming.
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The expected ingredients in a particular type of media text.
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A positive stereotype, or a stereotype that was created to cancel out/counteract a negative stereotype. Countertypes are still stereotypes - they are simplified generalisations of a group. The difference is that a countertype presents a positive imag
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Crab Shot
A type of shot which involves the camera being placed in a confined space.
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Crane Shot
A type of shot in which a camera is positioned on a specially designed crane, which can be raised and lowered
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A type of moving image edit that involves a series of cutaways and cut backs from one sequence of narrative action to another taking place simultaneously.
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A brief shot that momentarily interrupts the main action of a film by showing a related action, object or person, not necessarily part of the main scene, before cutting back to the original shot.
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Deep Focus
A camera technique that allows objects both near and far from the camera to be in focus at the same time.
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Information concerning the social status, class, gender and age of the population.
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The first and simplest level of meaning of an image.
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That which is spoken by actors/presenters.
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Diegetic Sound
Sound generated within a film narrative.
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A type of moving image editing where one image slowly dissolves into another
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Dominant Ideology
The belief system that serves the interests of the dominant ruling elite within a society, generally accepted as common sense by the majority and reproduced in mainstream media texts.
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The removal or shortening of elements of a narrative to speed up the action.
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The ability to share the emotions or point of view of a group or individual.
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The process of constructing the media message in a form suitable for transmission to a receiver or target audience.
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Encoding/Decoding Model
Model devised by Stuart Hall to explore the ways in which the meanings of media texts can vary in line with their circumstances of production and consumption.
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Enigma Code
A narrative structure that involves the creation of riddles or problems to be solved by the resolution.
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Establishing shot
The shot (usually wide or long), often used at the start of a programme or film, a new section of a programme or at the start of a new scene to establish the relationship between the set/location and the characters and to show the whole view.
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Eyeline Match
A type of editing that maintains the eyeline or level when cutting from a character to what’s the character sees.
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A type of moving image editing where the image gradually fades and disappears, leaving a white or black screen.
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Fish Eye Lens
A camera lens of short focal length with a wide field of vision, usually producing a circular image.
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A scene in a film which disrupts the chronological narrative by going backward in time to recall past events.
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The process of selecting what is to be framed by a particular film shot, for example, characters, setting and iconography.
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Psychological and cultural aspects of behaviour associated with masculinity and femininity, acquired through social socialization, in accordance with the expectations of a particular society.
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Gendered Consumption
The way that gender affects our consumption of media texts.
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A category of media products classed as being similar in form and type.
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Genre Theory
An explanation of the role played by genre in differentiating media texts and aligning audiences.
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Head-On Shot
For a type of shot in which the action comes directly toward the camera.
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In the writings of Gramsci, hegemony refers to the dominance of one social class over others.
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High angle
To provide a view from above the subject(s), often making the subject look vulnerable, isolated or powerless. This is sometimes combined with a crane shot into a closer shot of the subject(s).
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A cross between one film genre and another.
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Hypodermic Needle Theory
Suggests that the media ‘inject’ its audience with its ideas like a passive patient rather than a critical and active consumer. The focus here is on the fact that we don’t choose to believe certain things; the media chooses for us.
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A sign resembling the thing in represents.
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The distinguishing elements, in terms of props and visual details, which characterise a genre.
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A set of attitudes, beliefs and values held in common by a group of people and culturally reproduced within that community to sustain its particular way of life.
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A media organisation or activity that is not connected to a major company.
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Any of the organisations responsible for the production, marketing, distribution or regulation of media texts, for example Disney, the BBC, Channel 4, etc.
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Media texts which of audiences the opportunity to choose, respond or shape the text in some way.
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Deliberately including references to one text in the narrative of another, either as homage to the text referred to or as a device intended to engage the interest of the audience by appealing to their prior knowledge and experience of media texts.
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Jump cut
When two shots are shot from approximately the same position, and one immediately follows another when the text is edited. It appears to the audience that part of the action is missing. The jump cut can be used to create excitement and tension.
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Key Concept
Any of the core concepts on which a media studies programme focuses, specifically audience, genre, ideology, institutions, language, narrative and representation.
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The particular codes used within different media to convey messages to audiences.
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Linear Narrative
A sequential narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end-in that order.
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Long Shot
A distance shot where the camera is a long way from the subjects being filmed.
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Long take
Each time a shot is recorded it is called a take. A long take is one that is allowed to remain for a long duration before it is cut.
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Low-Angle Shot
A shot where the camera approaches a subject from below eye level.
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Male Gaze
Term used by Laura Mulvey in her essay ‘Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema’ (1975) to describe what she saw as the male point of view adopted by the camera for the benefit of an assumed male audience.
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Master Shot
A camera shot used at the beginning of a sequence to establish the component elements and relationships in such a way as to allow the audience to make sense of the action follows.
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Media Access
Describes the degree of ease with which citizens can be seen and/or heard in the media, respond to the media and be provided with a dialogue with institutions, and the opportunities evident for people to produce media texts themselves and for them to
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Media Language
An umbrella term that describes the ways in which audiences read media texts through understanding formal and conventional structures.
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The means by which, through the use of representation, a media organisation and its employees stand between an event and the public’s perception of that event.
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Mise en scène
The arrangement by a filmmaker of everything that is to be included in a shot or frame.
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Mode of Address
In narrative studies, the way in which media texts talk to an audience.
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Multi Media
The text created in a variety of media.
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The storyline and structure of a media text
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Narrative Theory
A type of thinking that seeks to explain narrative structures and their relationship to wider cultural and genre-related factors.
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Negotiated Reading
A reading of a text which assumes that no absolute meaning exists and that meaning is generated and negotiated by what the reader brings to the text in terms of attitudes, values, beliefs and experience.
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Niche Marketing
The targeting of a small but significant group of consumers with a media product directed specifically at their interests.
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The public body responsible for regulating the television, radio and telecommunications media in Britain.
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180° rule (also known as ‘not crossing the line’)
The filmmaking role of placing the camera in a 180° relationship with the filmed subject to ensure narrative continuity.
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Oppositional Reading
A reading of a media text that rejects the ideological positioning and apparent meaning intended by the producers of the text and substitutes a radical alternative.
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Camera action involving gently moving the camera 180°across the subject matter in a horizontal plane.
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Parallel Action
The narrative technique of showing two or more scenes happening at the same time by cutting between them.
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The imitation of one media text by another for comic effect.
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Male domination of the political, cultural and socioeconomic system.
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A motivating factor in the consumption of media texts.
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Those elements of a media text that convey information about the narrative.
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Point-of-View Shot (POV)
A camera shot taken from the position of the subjects, used to enhance a sense of realism and audience involvement in the action.
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The locating of a media product in a marketplace with regard to audience and socio economic, political and cultural factors.
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Post Production
The editing stage, where material is manipulated using software and transformed into a finished media product.
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Preferred Reading
The intended response to the presentation of possible meanings of news photographs that are closed off by cropping, anchorage by captions, juxtaposition and so on.
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Primary Research
Research undertaken through direct interview with a source or by direct access to original, unmediated documents or images.
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The leading character in the text.
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Practices and behaviour involving social and economic discrimination, based on the false assumption that one particular ethnic group or race is culturally and biologically inferior to another.
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Razor Edit
A style of moving image editing which involves a sharp cut from one scene to another.
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Reaction Shot (also known as ‘nodding shot’)
The shot devised for an interview between two people, usually showing an interviewer responding to the interviewee’s answers by nodding or reacting in some way.
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A film and television style that attempts to represent the real world.
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Reception Theory
An active audience theory which sees the audience as being actively engaged in the interpretation of media texts rather than as passive consumers.
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The process whereby the media construct versions of people, places and events in images, words or sound for transmission through media texts to an audience.
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The strategic positioning of media texts within broadcasting time. Digital television is increasingly disrupting this approach, since viewers can choose more easily than before when to watch.
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The study of signs.
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A television or radio narrative that presents self-contained weekly episodes, using a recurring set of characters.
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Representations that discriminate on the basis of sex, especially against women, which is seen to derive from a sustained patriarchy
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Slow Motion
Used in the editing process to slow down the action for emotional or comic effect.
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A term to describe the combination of the signifier and the signified, where the signifier is the physical object and the signified is the mental concept or meaning that the signifier conveys.
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The physical object used to represent a mental concept.
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Social Realism
The representation of characters and issues in film and television drama in such a way as to race serious underlying social and political issues.
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Soft Focus
In images, the use of a special lens or filter to create a hazy light around the subject.
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Sound Effects
Enhanced sound added to a film or television programme during post production.
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Split Screen
An editing technique which involves the cinema screen being split into two or more parts to allow the showing of events that are taking place at the same time.
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The social classification of a group of people by identifying common characteristics and universally applying them in an often oversimplified and generalised way, such that the classification represents value judgements and assumptions about the grou
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Subjective Shot
A type of shot in which the camera is positioned as if looking at the world through the subject’s eyes.
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The appearance of writing/symbols or images on top of an image so that both are visible at once, increasing the amount of information the viewer has in one shot.
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In the film and television audience, the creation of a feeling of tension and anticipation.
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Target Audience
The intended audience for a media product.
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Analogue broadcasts from land-based transmitters as opposed to cable or satellite digital transmissions.
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Any constructed media product or piece of communication, whether print or audio visual, which can be analysed and deconstructed.
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The key passage of music link to the subject matter/style of the film or programme which helps to create the mood.
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Three Point Lighting
A lighting technique involving actors being lit from three points: A main source (or key light), the source filling shadows (filler light) and a source backlighting the actors (back light)
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A camera movement that involves moving the camera vertically up and down from a fixed position.
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Tracking Shot
A camera shot in which the camera moves along rails to follow the subject.
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A practice which transcends conventional approaches and either subverts these existing ways of working or challenges their value.
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A melody used, particularly in TV, for the theme tune and throughout the programme to reinforce its identity.
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Two Shot
Of two people, usually a medium close up or medium shot. The shot shows the spatial relationship of the two people, who are often in conversation. This is commonly used in TV soaps.
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Two-step Flow
The term used by Katz and Lazarsfeld to describe their observation that media messages flow from the media to opinion leaders to the rest of the audience. The important point is that their research demonstrated that media effects are mediated by the
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Transferring information or material from a computer to an online network.
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Uses and Gratification Theory
An active audience theory that focuses on ‘what people do with the media’ rather than what the media does to people, arguing that audiences are free to pick and choose from a wide range of media products to satisfy their own needs.
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Voice Over
The use of a voice, over images, perhaps as an introduction, a linking narrative device for or to comment on action. Often used in documentary.
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Seeming to be like or to be connected to the real.
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Vertical Integration
The merger or takeover of companies operating at different stages of the production/distribution process.
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Whip Pan
A very fast pan between two or more characters all points of interest. He gives the impression camera has been ‘surprised’ by activity and is used in the place of a more conventional cu or shot/reverse shot.
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Wide Shot
This can be used as an establishing shot of a set or location or to show a large crowd of people. They can also emphasize the isolation of a single figure.
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A moving image editing technique that involves one image wiping another off the screen.
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Zoom/Reverse Zoom
The adjustment of the camera lens to allow the operator progressively to move in close off or to pull away from the subject.
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Effects Model
Passive Audience - The audience is manipulated by the creators of the text and this has a direct effect on their behaviour and opinions
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Passive Audience - Long term exposure to repeated media messages makes audience immune to them
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A way of profiling audience members in which they are placed into 7 categories made up of people who have similar social statuses, interests or personalities
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Seek security. Tend to be domestic, conformist, conventional, sentimental. Favour value for money family brands.
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Seek status. Materialistic, acquisitive, orientated to image and appearance, persona and fashion. Attractive packaging more important than contents. Typically younger people, clerk and sales jobs.
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Seek control. Strong goals, confidence, work ethic and organisation. Supports stability. Brand choice based on self reward and quality, Typically higher management and professionals.
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Seeks survival. Right and authoritarian values. Interested in the past and tradition. Brand choices streeses safety, familiarity and economy. Typically older people.
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Seeks discovery. Energy, individualism and experience. Values difference and adventure. Brand choice highlights satisfaction and instant effect. The first to try new brands. Typically younger demographic-students.
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Seeks escape. Alienated and disorganised. Few resources beyond physical skills. Brand choice involves impact and sensation. Buys alcohol, junk food, lottery tickets. D and E demographics.
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Seeks enlightenment. Freedom of restrictions and personal growth. Social awareness and independent judgement. Anti-materialistic but aware of good taste. Has attended higher education and selects products for quality.
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Laura Mulvey
Argued mainstream Hollywood film was the product of male dominated and controlled industry, men controlled action and responsible for moving narrative along, women represented as passive objects of male gaze, pleasure in viewing comes from voyeurism.
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Judith Butler
Suggests that gender is not the result of nature but is socially constructed e.g. male and female behaviour are not the result of biology but are constructed and reinforced by society through media and culture.
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Queer Theory
Hollywood films show heterosexual couples as happy, homosexuals represented in terms of sin, shame and sickness. Challenges tradition that there is a binary divide between heterosexual and homosexual. Linked to the idea of men (mainly) being camp.
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Women and homosexuality
Lesbianism has been suppressed in British culture in the 19th and 20th centuries. Media representations of lesbianism are far less frequent than of gay men. TV show which challenges this is Orange is the new Black.
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Working class
Represented as stereotypically poor but happy. Community values often praised but don't reflect reality. Working class communities have declined with the collapse of traditional industries such as coal mine. Can't cope with children.
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Upper class
Shown through coverage of monarchy. Well bred and cultured. Represented through accents, estates, and a taste for shooting and hunting. Represented in costume and period drama.
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Newman's Theory - Status and Class
Argued that tabloid media dedicate a great deal of their content to examining the lives of another section of wealthy elite. Audience invited to admire celebrity achievements.
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Lawler's Theory - Status and Class
Argues that the media use the discriminatory and offensive language to vilify what they depict as a peasant underclass symbolised by stereotypical forms of appearance.
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Marxism - Status and Class
Marxists argue that the content of newspapers such as The Sun and The Daily Star is an attempt to distract the working class audiences from the inequalities of capitalism.
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Seen as dependent on older groups for protection and survival.
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Children at puberty go through a rite of passage or initiation ceremony in which they are shown how to be a adult. Boys may be shown how to be warrior, girls how to be wives and mothers.
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In tribal societies they often acquire greater status and power because they are seen as having greater experience and wisdom. The young will defer and show respect for the elders.
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Functionalist and Youth Culture - Eisenstadt
Youth cultures are beneficial to society - help teenagers cope with status contradictions and powerlessness that they experience within the family and wider society.
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Phillipson's Theory - Age
Capitalism views the elderly as a burden on society because working life has ended and they have less spending power. Leads to old age being a stigmatised identity.
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Sontag's Theory - Age
Suggests there is a double standard of ageing, especially in television, whereby women are required to be youthful throughout their media careers, but men are not.
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Oliver's Theory - Disability
Argues that physically and mentally impaired are disabled by society. This social disability shapes disabled identity in modern societies as prejudices about disability lead to discrimination and exclusion.
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Longmore's Theory - Disability
Disabled people are generally negatively represented in films and TV dramas as evil, maladjusted human monsters who are dangerous and deviant. Disabled identity nearly always seen as a problem by society and never just a person with a disability.
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Card 2


An often- repeated character type or representation which is instantly recognisable to an audience



Card 3


Terms commonly used when discussing the audience for media products and the factors influencing the reception of media messages.


Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4


The positions people adopt in relation to a particular issue, e.g. Being for or against foxhunting.


Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5


Deeply held views, e.g. A belief in the principle of human equality or a belief in God.


Preview of the back of card 5
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