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MDSA02H3 (54)
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Chapter 6

Chapter 6 Thorough Notes

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Media Studies
Ted Petit

6. CulturalAnalysis How media texts shape the way we think about the world as cultural, political, and social beings Culture can be described as the collection of artifacts, practices, and beliefs of a particular group of people at a particular historical moment, supported by symbolic systems and directed by ideology Ideology Culture is ideological The cultures we inhabit teach us to see the world in some ways and not in others Cultures give rise to ideologies and ideologies influence how individual members of the culture see the world Ex: The majority of cultures in Renaissance Europe did not perceive madness as a problem. It existed as a constant in daily life, a factor as unpreventable and prevalent as death What is it? Ideology: a system of ideas that unconsciously shapes and constrains both our beliefs and behaviours. Ideology is the sets of beliefs underlying the customs, habits, and practices common to a given culture. To members of that culture, the beliefs seem obviously true, natural, and universally applicable. They may seem just as obviously arbitrary, idiosyncratic, and false to those who adhere to another ideology. Within any culture, numerous ideologies coexist; some are marginalized, others are hegemonic (i.e. dominant and the cultural norm). Ideologies may be forcefully imposed or willingly subscribed to. Their component beliefs may be held consciously or unconsciously What does it do? 1. It limits the range of acceptable and even conceivable ideas. 2. It normalizes (e.g., naturalizes) particular sets of social relations. 3. It privileges some interests over others. 4. It interpellates individuals into subjects. (1) Limits Promotes some perspectives and values while devaluing others Some ideologies are easy to spot because the interpretations they promote are obviously one- sided Ex: Republicans and Democrats. Each party functions as a culture with particular artifacts, customs, and attitudes, and each party provides its members with an ideology that limits interpretation and helps those individuals distinguish b/t right and wrong, true and false, good and bad However, some ideologies define our world in a more unconscious fashion. We enact and support them without realizing it. So ingrained in our minds we fail to see them as ideologies Ex: Biological sex in today'sAmerican society. We tend to understand the concept of sex according to one of two groups: male and female. In reality though the human form can often display physical characteristics of both sexes Ex: public restrooms are assigned according to male and female sexes, as are clothing and department stores India acknowledges a third sex and name it Hijra, so they have a diff ideology there(2) Naturalizes (normalizes) Ideology often makes social relations and arrangements between people seem normal, and it makes established relationships of power appear to be the natural order of things The social roles we occupy throughout or lifetime (child, student, employee) inscribe us into relationships of unequal power as a result of ideological value hierarchies All social relations are inherently relations of power because all social relations exist in a web of ideologies which award power to certain roles Ex: instructor has power only becauseAmerican cultural ideology often awards authority to highly educated experts in a given field Ex: The ideology of American capitalism ensures that employers have power over their employees, and this relationship b/t owner and worker seems to be a natural part of everyday life instead of a culturally constructed system (3) Privileges Ideology privileges some interests over others. In the process of normalizing relations of power, it also informally confirms that the perspectives, qualities, or needs of socially powerful groups are more important or valid than those of socially dominated groups The capitalist ideological structure ofAmerican business culture is an example: although employees tend to do much of the actual work in a capitalist business, it is the more socially powerful management and owners that reap the most profits generated from the work Most businesses in America favor managerial styles that emphasize masculine qualities li
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