Revision Dominant Ideology and the mediaAn ideology is a belief systemthat is constructed and thenembedded in the publicconsciousness by the media.Media texts represent theworld usually in order tosupport a dominant ideology.For example, newspapersoften promote the dominantideology of patriotismthrough their representationof race and nationality.
Some dominant ideologiesCapitalism. The production of capitaland consumption of surplus value asa life goal. Patriotism. To love, support and protect one’s country and its people. Marriage and family. The “right way” to live is to marry an opposite-sex partner and have children. Male superiority. Men are more suited to positions of power, and more suited to decision-making at work and at home.
Marxism Marxism is an economic and socio-political world view that contains within it a political ideology for how to change and improve society by implementing socialism. It was originally developed in the early to mid nineteenth Karl Marx century by two German émigrés living in Britain, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism is based upon a materialist interpretation of history – social groups are driven by creatingFriedrich Engels and maintaining wealth.
Class struggleMarx and Engels believed thatsocial change occurs because ofthe struggle between differentclasses within society who areconstantly competing toimprove their conditions.The Marxist analysis leads tothe conclusion that Workerscapitalism, the currently (Proletariat)dominant form of economicmanagement, leads to theoppression of the proletariatwho not only make up themajority of the worldspopulace but who also spendtheir lives working for the ‘Fat Cats’benefit of the bourgeoisie, the (Bourgeoisie)wealthy ruling class in society.
To correct this inequality between thebourgeoisie, who are the wealthyminority, and the proletariat, who are thepoorer majority, Marxism advocates, andbelieves in the historical inevitability, of aproletarian revolution, when theproletariat take control ofgovernment, and then implement reformsto benefit their class, namely theconfiscation of private property which isthen taken under state control and run forthe benefit of the people rather than forthe interests of private profit.Such a system is socialism, althoughMarxists believe that eventually a socialistsociety would develop into an entirelyclassless system, which is known ascommunism in Marxist terminology.
MarxismMarx died in 1883 but his ideas still have aresonance today. Marx was an economist andphilosopher and wrote his Communist Manifestoin1848. In it he advocated workers across theworld should unite against their oppressors, theruling classes, who were also their employers.He wrote: ‘Workers of all lands unite, you havenothing to lose but your chains’.His ideas led to the development of Communistpolitical systems around the world. In EasternEurope these lasted until 1989. In this year theBerlin Wall was pulled down and communismhere was abandoned as the dominant politicalphilosophy, although it still exists in countriessuch as China, North Korea and Cuba.
Marx and CapitalismAlthough Marx was alive long before themass media we know today, his ideas helpus to understand media theory. In Marx’s view, all social and culturalinstitutions such as the family, theeducation system and the legal system aswell as the mass media (which in his daywould have been primarily the newspaper)are shaped by the economic basis ofsociety. Therefore an understanding of theeconomic sphere is essential to anyunderstanding of the role played by themass media in society.This means we need to know somethingabout capitalism...
The two social classes in a capitalist societyIn capitalist economies, one group of people (theruling class or bourgeoisie) own the capital (money)to invest in factories, offices, machinery, newtechnology and land; in other words in almost allthose things necessary to produce wealth. The one thing this group does not own is sufficient labour to create profitable products and services. Labour is owned by the second and much larger group in society, the working classes (proletariat) who sell this labour in order to survive. This labour may be manual or intellectual.However much or little workers are paid for theirlabour, there must always be a ‘profit margin’ sothat the true value of the workers’ labour is notreturned to them. This is why Marxists see a conflictin the material interests of the two classes; thecapitalist class wants to pay as little as possible forlabour, while it is in the interests of the workingclass to have full value for their labour.
False ConsciousnessSocial institutions like the massmedia play a key role in ensuringthat the working class remain happywith their situation despite theinherent unfairness of the system.Marx described the situation inwhich members of the subordinateclasses cannot see that they arebeing duped as ‘false consciousness’.In Marxist terms, ideology canultimately be identified as thelies, deceptions and misinformationgiven to the working classes in orderto maintain the state of ‘falseconsciousness’.
Applying Marx to the mass media today When Marxists apply this ideology to the mass media they will argue:• The institutions of the mass media are owned by the ruling classes (e.g. Rupert Murdoch, Richard Branson)• These institutions are used to indoctrinate the masses into believing capitalism is good for all• Media industry workers are exploited just as other workers• …therefore the mass media exists to serve the ideological interests of the ruling class.
Applying Marx to the mass media today Marx argued that as an outcome of capitalist ideology was the alienation of workers from the means of production - a disconnection between the maker and what is made. This is certainly true of the media where the focus is on the writers, directors and actors/presenters. Individualism and hierarchy are emphasised over collectivism. The wider production team almost never receive star billing!
Marxism beyond MarxMarx, then, regarded capitalism asfundamentally unfair and a corruptway to organise society. He alsoabhorred nationalism and religiousfundamentalism. ‘Marxism’ does not just refer, however, to the ideas generated by Marx himself, but to a huge body of work created by numerous academics, scholars and revolutionaries who have adopted Marx’s ideas...
Antonio GramsciOne example of this isAntonio Gramsci (1891 –1937). He was an Italianpolitical theorist. Afounding member andonetime leader of theCommunist Party ofItaly, he was imprisonedby Mussolinis Fascistregime.He is renowned for hisconcept of culturalhegemony as a means ofmaintaining the state in a Antonio Gramscicapitalist society.
HegemonyHegemony is the way inwhich those in powermaintain their control.Dominant ideologiesare consideredhegemonic; power insociety is maintained byconstructing ideologieswhich are usuallypromoted by the massmedia.
Gramsci and Hegemony In "advanced" industrial societies hegemonic cultural innovations such as compulsory schooling, the mass media, and popular culture have indoctrinated workers to a false consciousness.
Cultural hegemonyCultural hegemony is thephilosophic and sociologicalconcept that a culturally-diversesociety can be ruled ordominated by one of its socialclasses.It is the dominance of one socialgroup over another, e.g. theruling class over all other classes.The theory claims that the ideasof the ruling class come to beseen as the norm; they are seenas universalideologies, perceived to benefiteveryone whilst only reallybenefiting the ruling class.
Hegemony... in more detailHegemony dates to the Greek verb hegeisthai which translates to “to lead.” Earlyleaders who were able to exert a great deal of control and influence over a group ofpeople might be referred to as hegemons. A hegemon had to have a great deal ofsupport from at least one dominating class, in order to keep the people of the statefrom rebelling against the leadership.Not only money, but also other forms of dominance can influence the hegemony ofone group. For example, control of the media, up until recently, has influenced thingslike what shows get aired, what shows get cancelled, and the degree to which atelevision station must censor news or television shows.
Hegemony... in more detailHowever, this hegemony of the publishing industry is in considerable fluxgiven the many independent websites like YouTube.Many musicians and actors are avoiding the media by self-publishing theirmusic and videos on sites accessible to all. As the public decides to self-publish artistic works, or blogs, hegemony begins to shift to the people.The people now arguably hold hegemony instead of the broadcastingcompanies. However, traditional broadcasting companies are attemptingto regain hegemony by using these new technologies.
Hegemony in more detailHegemony tends to more often refer to the power of a singlegroup in a society to essentially lead and dictate the othergroups of the society. This may be done throughcommunications, through influence of voters or ofgovernment leaders.A single country may also be considered a hegemony if it hasenough power to influence the way other countries behave.States that are hegemonies, like the British Empire in themid-19th century, had extraordinary influence on manyother countries. Their partial or total control of othercountries was either obtained through a show of militaryforce, and through control of trade industries.Hegemony that exists in a single country means thedominant and most influential group often influences policyso that the greatest advantage accrues to the dominantgroup. For example, some consider the wealthy havehegemony in the US when it comes to tax laws.
Home Learning assignmentWe would describe our society as liberal pluralist. This is a very differentideological stand point from Marxism.ActivityResearch the term ‘liberal pluralist’ and then draft notes for a speech about liberalpluralism. You might start with the words: In our society we believe ...Some of you might like to deliver your speechnext lesson (but there will be no requirementto do this.)Please have work to show on 5/6th December.
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