MIT 1200 Lecture 2: Mass Society

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Media, Information and Technoculture
Media, Information and Technoculture 3214F/G
Sharon Sliwinski

MIT 1200 Lecture Two January 12, 2011 “Mass Society” Key Question of this course: What is the function of media in our society? 1. Governance = intelligence 2. Military = courage 3. Merchant = appetite (desire) - For Plato a courageous person is someone who performs courageous acts - Why the comparison between Plato and Nike? - Media is an old problem. When it comes to thinking of advertisements, it’s not hard to agree with Plato. This form of mimesis (mimicry) doesn’t lend itself to truth. It’s easy for us to be on Plato’s side - when we’re watching commercials we are in the world of the cave, watching shadows on the wall. - “Mass” part of mass society - Key Point 1: Mass media developed in relation to the emergence of mass society. Those two things go hand in hand. - We live in a mass society and Plato didn’t. mass (noun) 1. (in religion): the Christian Eucharist or Holy Communion 2. (in physics): a (often large) quantity of matter 3. (“the masses”) the ordinary people - Key Point 2: Mass media products are designed for mass consumption - “Masses” refer to the nation state; all the people “global masses” to talk about global conditions. People of the earth. Relatively new idea and belongs in modernity (end of 18th century onwards) - “Peak moment” for the masses in Berlin: City of Stones. 1928 was a peak moment for mass society; we’re reading this novel because it’s set at the development of mass media; the term came into existence in 1923. How did the world get to this point of mass media/mass society? - Just before the masses we had the ‘mob’ Referred to as the tyranny of the majority. A mob is a mob only because they are a group of people who haven’t yet been granted political legitimacy. They are violent with a purpose (don’t want to pay tax on the tea, Boston Tea Party) Mob (noun) Derived from latin term ‘mobile vulgus’ 1. disorderly and riotous crowd of people; 2. a group bent on or engaged in lawless violence; 3. the common people; the masses; populace or multitude MIT 1200 Lecture Two January 12, 2011 4. the mob (i.e. the mafia), a criminal gang 5. a herd or drove of animals (ex. a mob of sheep) Key Point 3: Masses are people who do have political legitimacy - Differences between when George Washington was inaugurated and when Barack Obama was: Technology allowed more people to witness it. - No one used to care about the masses, but with the birth of democracy the power now lies with the masses, the people. - There’s been a shift of power from the sovereign to the people - Mass media, both the content and the quality of the media, have a big part to play in the transformation - The masses can always have the ‘shadow of the mob’ in them. There are historical moments when the masses have become a mob again. -Detroit 1967: There was a big party in a bar because two men had come back alive from Vietnam. All black
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