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CS 203 Midterm: Midterm 2016 Answers

Communication Studies
Course Code
Penelope Ironstone- Catterall
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Van Bargen 1
Mackenzie Van Bargen
Dr. Ironstone
CS 203
4036 Words
CS 203 Midterm
Part A
1) “This is why myth is experienced as innocent speech: not because its intentions are
hidden [...] but because they are naturalized.”
This quote is from the Roland Barthes excerpt, Myth Today. The article discusses how
we can extend our understanding of meaning through signs (and the signifier and signified), with
the addition of myths. Barthes describes myths as a type of secondary system of signification.
Meaning that sign’s and the accompanying signifying practices are the first order the system and
then the signifier refers to something other than itself which creates an associating relationship to
cultural contexts. In my opinion, it is much like a connotation or ideology because they are a
type of cultural manifestation.
An important thing to note about myths is that they are historically produced meaning
that they are shaped by the historical relationships of a particular time and place. This quote is
stating that myths are naturalized, meaning they are undiscerning or unmotivated. The article
suggests that myths do not hide their intentions or conceal, but rather they distort. I like to think
about it in other terms we have been using in class; the myth is seen as natural because it is
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Van Bargen 2
conveyed in terms of the ruling hegemonic ideology of the current given society. That is the
power of the myth, they have limitations and can provide only single viewpoints. To expand,
‘myths are experienced as innocent speech because they are naturalized’ means that they have
become so normalized or accepted that no one is negotiating or even opposing the meaning, even
though it can be distorting historical struggles and power relations.
A contemporary example of a naturalized myth would be the acceptance of the power
relationships between the Westernized (colonialized) parts of the world in contrast with the rest
of the globe. This power relationship is viewed as natural as we don’t always recognize the
historical contexts of imperialism and colonialism that took place in order to make western
society the way it is today due to the distortion.
2)Everyone must behave (as if spontaneously) in accordance with his previous determined
and indexed level, and choose the category of mass product turned out for his type."
This quote is from the Adorno and Horkheimer reading, The Culture Industry:
Enlightenment and Mass Deception, in chapter two. The article discusses how cultural tools have
become exactly like commodities and consumer goods. The reason for this is because the
capitalist system’s main objective is to make profit while promoting and reinforcing dominant
ideologies. The authors argue that cultural producers have become more concentrated and
homogenized over time creating a more rigid ideological constitution to live in. Ardorno and
Horkeimer describe mass culture as a society in which consumption that is submissive and
ultimately, manipulating the public.
Two main concepts within the reading are standardization and pseudo-individuality.
Standardisation can be described as searching for the common denominator or standard values of
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Van Bargen 3
society in order to make a product successful. Pseudo-individuality describes how we identify
ourselves through commodities, however the commodities are mass produced and lack
originality. This quote reflects pseudo-individuality because it describes the process of finding
means of expression through mass product which give the illusion of choice but actually have
minute differences. The quote demonstrates how identities are pre-formulated, mass produced to
a mass culture.
A contemporary example that of the key ideas from this quote would be the current music
industry. The music industry is normalizing production and cultural sameness to be reflected
back to the public through ‘art’. If you compare any current or successful artists today, there are
structural similarities within the actual music. However, the marketing for the music is based on
minute differences between the artists. This is why a-tonal music (or chaotic, hard to digest,
generally unsuccessful music) is not meant to make profit but rather to encourage the public to
think and become less passive.
3) "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas: i.e., the class which is
the ruling material force of a society is at the same time its ruling intellectual force."
This quote is from the Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels excerpt, The Ruling Class and the
Ruling Ideas. This quote demonstrates how the ideas of the ruling class are created by the ruling
class in order to serve and maintain their elite positons. The excerpt discusses the three ways to
maintain the illusion that ideas and philosophy are separate from the ruling or dominant class.
The three ways to preserve the hierarchy in society are summarized as follows: to separate ruling
ideas from those ruling, the connection of ruling ideas are self-determined or appear on their
own, and finally, personify these ideas to a series of philosophers or thinkers (Marx & Engels,
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