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Communication and Ethics: SOC284
Lecture Two: January 13th 2011
Continued From Last Week…
There are two definitions of mass media (traditional and modernized definition).
Ethical issues which arise within mass media
Yellow Journalism: Uses unauthorized, unpublished sources
Very unethical in terms of Libel
Libel: Defined as allegation against someone as being unethical or
the committing of a act which is criminal ( if you claim this and do
not have proof of evidence of it, then you/and your publication can
be sued).
Libel is when you make false allegations against |
Ethics is a branch is philosophy which seeks to address questions about morality
(authoritative norms right and wrong behaviour) such as:
Example: Murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, ect.
If a moral norm is broken then sanctions incur.
1. The nature of morality: are there universal moral norms? Is morality arbitrary?
Murder is generally condemned; incest is generally condemned, except for
some particular cultures/communities.
Some countries will enable euthanasia.
There are many societies which are not tolerated on theft.
Most sociologists would claim that moral norms are arbitrary
Arbitrary means something which is not supported by a sound
argument. The reasoning is not based on facts.
Morality has a social function as it helps to maintain society, and ensure that
certain things are abided by. If there was no moral norm to not kill, then this
means that you can go outside and no one would kill you.
2. How and by whom should moral values be determined?
People create moral norms in everyday interactions
Religious leaders have a huge impact on moral norms
Elected officials have a impact on what moral norms will be.
Justice of the peace have a huge impact on moral norms (via their verdicts)
3. How can a moral outcome be achieved in specific situations?

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Communication and Ethics: SOC284
Lecture Two: January 13th 2011
4. What moral values do people actually abide by? (Ideal and real culture; conflicting
We are always faced by moral rules/norms (should you follow the moral rule
of hanging out with friends? Or should you follow the moral rule to study).
Ideal Culture: Consists of cultural rules that society claims.
Tells you what you Should do.
Real Culture: Consists of rules which society actually carries out.
You actually DO this.
Practically, we usually will follow the moral norms of work; which makes its
apart of the real culture.
Think of ethical issues in mass media communication.
1. The use of violence within the media is unethical because when children
watch it; it tends to have a negative effect on a child’s behaviour.
2. Sexual behaviour within mass media is unethical because it will motivate
people to have sexual intercourse and other sexual relations.
Sociology of Communication and Ethics
In this course we will assume that
Ethical norms are:
1. Socio-Historically specific
** If this is true, then why is it that there are consensus crimes
amongst societies (eg: actions which are seem to be unified as crimes
amongst various societies).
** Eg: Theft, sexual assault, rape, murder, ect.
2. Shaped by power relationships in society.
People who have power within society have the ability to shape
norms within society.
Example: Political figures, large corporate leaders
The Ruling class.
The ruling class tries to impose their own moral values on the rest of
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