SOC101Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 17: Virtual Community, Hyperreality, Max Horkheimer
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Chapter 17: Mass Media
What impact are the media having on our culture, our social institutions, and our
What are the Mass Media?
Mass media: Any technologically based means of communicating between large
numbers of people distributed widely over space or time.
- Internet: the network infrastructure that links together the world’s millions of
- World Wide Web: the computer language that allows us to access information on the
Sociological Perspectives on the Mass Media
media literacy: the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media in a variety of
Functionalist Perspectives on the Media
i). Functions of the Media
- (1) Surveillance
- (2) Interpretation
- (3) Socialization
- (4) Entertainment
- allows us to imagine ourselves as part of a nation state.
- Straw: developed a unified culture in France
- worldwide: the Olympics
- legislated nation-building mandate: Broadcasting Act CBC
- not always positive
ii). Other Functions of the Media
- a form for the public to express their views & perspectives
- mobilize people
- link people
- status conferral function: the process of giving prominence to particular individuals by
focusing media attention on them.
- celebrity socialite & reality TV
- make fans believe they have a mutual relationship with the celebrity
- blurs the distinction between reality & fiction
iii). Dysfunctions of the Media
- Lazarsfeld & Merton: narcotization: a situation in which people become so
overwhelmed by the amount of information they receive that they become numb and do
not act on the information.
- free flow of news can threaten the status quo
- distort the news to sway public opinion
- unknown yet: whether the Internet will lead to selective exposure to a narrow range of
opinions/whether people will use its power to find sources that challenge their views.
Should We Regulate the Media?
- Canadian media X censor free political expression
- restrict who can own media companies
- regulate the use of the airwaves
- restrict the media content (e.g. no Tobacco ads)
- the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
- TV & radio stations
- specifies the amount of Canadian music/content
- Internet regulation would likely be futile
Conflict Perspectives on the Media
i). Mass Media and Media Deception
- Horkheimer & Adorno: culture industry has turned artistic expression into just another
- capitalism uses media to create false needs
- keeps people passively entertained & politically apathetic
- without thinking critically
ii). Media Concentration
- exploit the working class by promoting the cultural values of the powerful & by
creating a false consciousness among workers.
- Hall: the media support the values & interests of the dominant class.
- Herman & Chomsky: stories critical of capitalism will not appear in the popular media
- the ownership of media is highly concentrated in Canada
- media convergence: telecommunications companies + media companies
- content can easily be shifted from one platform to another
- advertising can be targeted to very specific audiences
- perpetuate stereotypes
- deal with issues at a superficial level
- the new social media have begun to change the situation
Interactionist Perspectives on the Media
- individuals continually negotiate their social realities
i). Social Media and Gender Identity
- helped them construct their own gender identity & self-esteem
- platform to discuss their lives with others who share the same experience
ii). Virtual Identities and Reality