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January 31, Mass Media.docx

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Carleton University
SOCI 1002
Christian Carron

Mass Media 3 in 5 (REVIEW) Civil society: Mass media, political parties, lobby groups, social movements, and public opinion Theories and Types of Democracies: Who has the power, who shares the power, how much is it distributed? How Canadian democracies work. What needs to be there in order for it to count as a democracy? Americans have a REPUBLIC. Everyday Life - Most of us see ourselves as self-determined: that is, autonomous beings who have both the ability and capability of acting according to the ends we seek. • We are in charge of our lives • Have the ability to make conscious decisions - Yet, our environments influence us - we are the product of the interaction between ourselves, others and the environments we inhabit • Ideas of how we see the world come from others as well - We’ve talked about “the social” and its enabling and constraining influence • Mass media is one of them - Background music in supermarkets – nothing is left to chance - Trying to create an atmosphere. People’s moods affect their buying. Mass media- Identity - Mass media tied to identity- As consumers we wear certain clothes, practice certain activities, listen to certain music, watch particular programs, use specific technologies that form part of our identities - Authors call these consumer groups ‘neo-tribes’ - Unlike traditional tribes from distant land, these consumer-oriented ‘neo-tribes’have no councils of elders or boards or admission committees to decide who has the right to be in and who ought to be kept out Mass media- Neo-tribes - They employ no gatekeepers and no border guards - They have no institution of authority- no Supreme Court which may pronounce on the correctness of members’behavior - In short, the form of control is dissimilar and they do not undertake to monitor degrees of conformity at a collective level - Thus, it seems that one can wander freely from one neo-tribe to another by changing one’s dress, refurbishing one’s apartment and spending one’s free time at different places Mass media- Neo-tribes - If neo-tribes do not guard entry in a formal manner, there is something else which does- the market - Neo-tribes are, in essence, life styles and these relate to styles of consumption.Access to consumption leads through the market and to acts of purchasing commodities Mass media- Neo-tribes - Styles that can be put together without spending may be looked down on, deprived of glamour and prestige, disdained, considered unattractive and even degrading - Indeed, wearing the wrong type of training shoe has been linked to bullying in school playgrounds - What, therefore, of those who lack the means to exercise the choices that are apparently open to all? They cannot afford to be choosy and their acts of consumption are thereby limited - The silence surrounding those who find themselves in conditions of poverty in a consumer-oriented society becomes deafening Mass media- Neo-tribes - The apparent availability of a wide and growing range of neo-tribes, each sporting a different lifestyle, has a powerful yet ambiguous effect on our lives - We are apparently free to move from one personal quality to another, choose what we want to be and what we want to make of ourselves - No force seems to hold us back and no dream seems to be improper in that it is at odds with either our existing or potential social position - This feels like liberation from constraint: an exhilarating experience in which everything, in principle, is within our reach and no condition is final and irrevocable Mass media- When is it enough? - At what point can we say ‘We have arrived, achieved all we wanted and so can now relax and take it easy?’Just when this may be possible, a new attraction can appear - The result of this freedom to choose in pursuit of the unattainable appears to be condemned to remain forever in a state of relative deprivation because there is always ever-new temptations and their apparent accessibility Myth of Accessibility - The markets, through the mass media, imply an equality of consumers in terms of their capacity freely to determine their social standing. In the light of such assumed equality, the failure to obtain goods that others enjoy is bound to create feelings of frustration and resentment - Lack of accessibility gets interpreted as a individual failing Limited access to certain Neo-tribes - This failure seems unavoidable. The genuine accessibility of the alternative lifestyles is determined by the prospective practitioners’ability to pay - Quite simply, some people have more money than others and thus more practical freedom of choice. In particular, those with the largest amount of money, who possess the true passports to the wonders of the market, can afford the most lauded, coveted and hence most prestigious and admired styles Myths of equality - At the end of the day, it transpires that with all the alleged freedom of consumer choice, the marketed lifestyles are not distributed evenly or randomly; they tend to concentrate in a particular part of society and acquire the role of a sign of social standing - Therefore, lifestyles tend to become class-specific. The fact that they are assembled from items that are available in shops does not make them vehicles of equality Summary - Our identities are being transformed in various ways not only through the introduction of new technologies, but also through the increasing role that markets play in our everyday lives - The market plays this role mainly through the institution of the mass media. It is to the characteristic of this mass media that we now turn our attention to • When an add comes on television marketing the latest technology, doesn’t say “only for people of upper/middle class” Mass Media Defined - The term mass media refers to print, radio, television, and other communication technologies • “Mass” implies the media reach many people  Boundaries are very flexible • “Media” signifies communication does not take place directly through face-to-face interaction, but rather technology intervenes or mediates in transmitting messages from senders to receivers  Communication via mass media is usually one-way, or at least one-sided  One producer, and then the consumers The rise of the mass media - Most of mass media are recent inventions - First developed systems of writing appeared only about 5,500 years ago in Egypt and Mesopotamia - Print media became truly mass phenomenon in 19 century • Daily newspaper first appeared in United States in 1830s and was dominant mass medium even as late as 1950 - Most electronic media are creatures of 20 century: • Forerunner of internet established in 1969 • World Wide Web established around 1991 Theories of media effects: Functionalism - Mass media perform important functions including the following: i. Coordinate operation of industrial and postindustrial societies • Takes information from one place and allows information to travel widely • Able to let people know what’s going on ii. Act as agents of socialization • Mass media, its role is to socialize everyone • Lets people know what is right and wrong iii. Engage in social control by helping ensure conformity • Alot of this by simply watching iv. Provide entertainment • Distracts them. Gives them something to consume Theories of media effects: Conflict theory** - Mass media favor interests of dominant classes and political groups - Are two ways in w
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