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Media and the Social World

Module 1

WHAT IS THE “MASS MEDIA”?

 The term “mass media” refers to print and electronic means of mass communication that
carry messages to widespread audiences.

Media and the Social World - Croteau and Hoynes

 Every day we are bombarded with messages from mass media –television, radio,
newspapers, and the internet.

 In fact, in modern society, most of our knowledge, understanding, and interpretations of


the world are mediated through mass media.

 These media have profound cognitive, emotional, and interactional effects on individuals,
institutions, and societies.

 At the same time, individuals and institutions are instrumental in shaping the nature and
character of the mass media.

 With the pervasiveness of the media, communication scholars have conducted numerous
studies to examine the effects of media on audience and society.

 At the same time, individuals and institutions are instrumental in shaping the nature and
character of the mass media.

 With the pervasiveness of the media, communication scholars have conducted numerous
studies to examine the effects of media on audience and society.

Functionalist Perspective of the Media

According to this perspective the mass media performs FOUR FUNCTIONS in society:

1. Surveillance of the environment: through the provision of news and information.

2. Correlation: correlating response to news and information (editorial function); the media
coordinate and correlate information that is valuable to the culture.

3. Surveillance of the environment: through the provision of news and information.

4. Correlation: correlating response to news and information (editorial function); the media
coordinate and correlate information that is valuable to the culture.
Rise of Mass Media

Social Construction of Reality

 While reality exists, media users negotiate the meaning of that reality
 The same media product may mean very different things to different people
 Example: A music video may elicit different responses from a 15-year old fan and a
parent concerned about sexist stereotypes that may be present in the video.

 Printing technology began in the 15th century


 Invention of the printing press promoted literacy in Europe
 Early 17th century – first newspapers in Europe
 19th century invention of telegraph and telephone allowed instantaneous
communication over long distances
 In the early 20th century radio became the first broadcast media , followed by TV in the
1940s and 50s
 The development of broadcasting fundamentally altered life – communicators could
cast their messages broadly to the masses in their homes
 The media experience became largely privatized and individualized even as people
were becoming “massified” by mass mediated homogenized messages about beauty
and even identity itself.

Rise of Internet and New Technologies

 Recent technologies resulted in a move away from the mass broadcast audience toward
smaller, more specialized niche populations

Narrowcasting

– The distinction between separate media forms is now blurred

– Increased interactivity between media users and contents

Media and Society

 The commercial mass media serve as a powerful socialization agent

 It aims particularly at children and youth


 It’s messages often contradict the parent

 It normalizes a way of life based on privatization, individualism, capitalist


materialism, hedonism, ageism, sexism, and status-conscious consumerism

 It introduces us to new and creative messages and perspectives

 It asks people to accept the “normalcy” of constant rapid social change

Media in Social Relations

 Media are bound up with the process of social relations

 Media affect how we learn about our world and interact with each other

 Example: Our political system is now mass-mediated by a commercial media that charges
hefty fees for political messages.

 The result is a bias toward the political viewpoints of the rich and their well-financed
politicians.

 Media products are connected to the ways we interact with others.

Structural Constraint and Human Agency

 Structure

 Any recurring pattern of social behavior

 Example: family structure

 Structure limits human agency

 Agency

 Intentional and undetermined human action

 Example: children in the family

 Structure limits agency, but agency can reproduce or change the structure

Structure and Agency in Media

 Relationships Between Media & Other Institutions

– Other social institutions set limits on the media


 Relationships Within the Media Industry

– Internal workings of mass media – social roles and practices

 Relationships Between the Media and the Public

– Media content affects public perceptions