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MDSA01H3 (310)
Chapter 02

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Media Studies
Michael Petit

Media Studies Chapter 2 MarxistAnalysis Introduction Marxist Media Scholars – effects of ownership and economics on the production and distribution of media content – media content = product (shapes the way it looks and circulates) Contemporary Patterns of Media Ownership – industry moves toward increasing consolidation and incorporation which diminish competition and encourage standardization of the mass media Marxism:An Overview Marxism – theory & social / political movement – rooted in the idea: “society is the history of class struggles” – central premise: mode of production in society (or underlying economic structure) determines the social relations of production (or class struggles) – prevailing ideology: profit-motive (continuous desire to increase capital) Historical Materialism – the material world (i.e. Natural phenomenon and processes) precedes human thought – material conditions of societies change over time, and thus must be viewed in historical context – is materialist: the external, concrete, material conditions of social existence determine or ground consciousness (“it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness) – not idealist: ideas determine social existence Base / Superstructure Model = (social) superstructure / (economic) base – Superstructure: social consciousness: encoded in institutions (culture:art/media, religion, education, politics, judicial system) – Economic Base: Material conditions of society Ruling Class – Ruling Ideas (ruling material force + ruling intellectual force) – has the means of material production at its disposal + controls the means of mental production Aspects of a Mode of Production – 1. Forces / Means of Production – land, natural resources, technology (needed to produce material goods) – 2. Relations of Production – labor practices & ownership (of property, company shares, the way goods are distributed) Capitalism: exploitive (creates two classes: working/proletariat class + ruling/bourgeoisie class) – ruling/bourgeoisie class: owns + controls the means of production – exploits economic value of the working class to: increase surplus value / profits – working/proletariat class: labour = only commodity it has to sell – petty / petite bourgeoisie: middle class – small business owners – white collar workers (lawyers, doctors, professors) Patterns of Media Ownership Marxist analysis of mass media – examining the: means of production under contemporary capitalism (late capitalism) Capitalism: changes over time: – industrial based manufacturing economy (19 + 20 centuries) – information based service economy (21 century) Patterns of Media Ownership – 1. Concentration (Oligopoly) – a few companies dominate (own + control) an entire industry (i.e. mass media) – not Monopoly: one company dominates the entire industry – few companies in high concentration: function like partners / cartels (than companies) – reduce competition – make it impossible for small, independent, startup companies to survive in the marketplace – large companies buy up small companies or drive them out of business – 2. Conglomeration – accumulating multiple companies through: startups, mergers, buyouts, and takeovers – 3. Integration – ownership pattern: subsidiary companies / branches within a corporation are strategically interrelated – conglomerates are by definition integrated – Vertical Integration: corporation that dominates (owns + controls) the levels of production (production / advertising / distribution) within a single media industry – allows parent company to oversee all stages of development (production / marketing / distribution) & gains profit at each stage – Horizontal Integration: corporation dominates one stage in the production process (production / advertising / distribution) – cross-media ownership: dominates (owns + controls) companies across media industries at the same level of production (production / advertising / distribution) – 4. M
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