Lecture One: Media Studies Notes(Marxist Analysis)
Everything we know is learned in one of two ways:
1. Somatically: things we know through direct sensory perception of our environment (
things look smell, feel, touch and taste like) first hand, unmediated experience
2. Symbolically: vast majority of what we know, things we know through someone (
through parents, friend , T, textbook, radio etc)
- Prior to the advent of modern mass media, people were the primary medium
through which info was passed
- Limitations of this method: info was tied to human modes of transportation
[transferred solely] traveled through multiple channels (people), so it was altered
- No way to efficiently communicate a uniform message to a large audience of distant
- Modern mass media – print, TV & Personal Media- humans, hand written letters –
DIFFERENCE= unique capacity to address large numbers of people in remote
1. Print media (first mass medium)
- German printer, Johannes Gutenberg, invented first printing press in 1450 (preserve,
- Knowledge could be recorded for future generations, social power increasingly
hinged on literacy, ownership of printed materials, circulation of knowledge to far
cities across Europe)
- Still limited by class distinctions,
This type of info is mediated, comes through some indirect channel or medium
Post modernity: describes the historical period that began to emerge in the 1960's as the
economic mode of production in most Western societies slowly shifted from goods-based
manufacturing to information-based services.
Introduction to Marxism:
Marxism: is both a theory and a social and political movement rooted in the idea that "society
is the history of class struggles." Its origins lie in the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who
collaborated on The German Ideology in 1845 and the Communist Manifesto in 1848
The central premise of Marxism is that the mode of production in society determines
the social relations of the production (or class structure).
This theory understands and makes sense of the world through the perspective of -
Believed that the material world precedes human thought: that the external, concrete,
material conditions of social existence determine or ground consciousness
Marxism is materialist as opposed to idealist: ideas determine social existence
Believed material conditions of societies change over time
Superstructure: social consciousness, as encoded in institutions such as culture(arts and
media), religion education, politics and the judicial system
Base: Material conditions of society.
The mode of production within any society is characterized by two aspects:
1. “forces” – means of production eg- land, natural resource, technology
2. “relations of production” labour practices and ownership
A society based on a capitalist mode of production is inherently exploitive because it
creates 2 classes], a working (proletariat) class and a ruling class (bourgeoisie).
The ruling class exploits the economic value (labour) of the working class to increase
surplus value or profits.
Capitalist system: the division of labour that produced such a harsh divide between the
haves and the have not's in the past has been replaced by a system that sustains a large
middle class, petit bourgeoisie, of small business owners and white collar workers.
The profit motive: the continuous desire to increase capital.
Patterns of Media ownership
- Reflects an organizational state in which the ownership and control of an entire
industry , such as the mass media, is dominated by just a few companies – Oligopoly
(monopoly- one company dominates an entire industry)
- Oligopoly- reduce competition (other companies find it hard to survive)
- (Time warner, Disney, Viacom, news corporations , Bertelsmann) – today
- Corporate practice of accumulating multiple, though not necessarily media,
companies and business through start-ups, buyouts, mergers and takeovers