Chapter 10: The Media The Critical Tradition COJO3040-01Michael Gross, Jamie Hageman, Miles Hunter, Kelli Jones, Sean Jones
Media TheorySemiotic theoriesSociocultural theoriesSociopsychologcial theoriesCybernetic theoriesCritical theories
The Critical Tradition on MediaThe critical tradition focuses on power structures,beliefs, and ideologies.Critical theorists are also concerned withuncovering oppressive social conditions.Critical tradition views media as a tool heavilymanipulated by dominant cultures and ideologies.
McQuail’s Approach to Mass CommunicationThree approaches to the study of masscommunication in the social sciences Holistic- top down approaches Content orientated – The Message Public orientated
McQuail’s Five Branches• 1. Classical Marxism• 2. Political-economic media theory• 3. Frankfurt School• 4. Hegemonic theory• 5. “Cultural studies”
McQuail’s Marxist ApproachesAll of the McQuail’s Marxist approaches stemfrom a common declaration that can be found inMarx’s The German Ideology: “the ideas of theruling class are in every epoch of the ruling ideas”(McQuail, 1983).
Classic Marxism & the MediaMedia is a tool used by the dominant class tomarginalize minorities and further profit makinginterests perpetuating the dominant culture.
Classic Marxism & the MediaLanguage usage: Universal Health Care Pro-life/Pro-choice
Classic Marxism & the MediaMedia ownership in the United States: CBS Corporation: 2011 revenue $14.2 billion, 29 television stations and 130 radio stations Time Warner, INC: 2011 revenue $29 billion, Time Warner is the worlds second-largest entertainment conglomerate with ownership interests in film, television and print, including CNN News. Comcast Corporation: 2011 revenue $55.8 billion, 24 television stations and NBC television network. News Corp.: 2011 revenue $33.4 billion, 27 television stations including FOX news.
Political-Economic Media TheoryPolitical-economic media theory, like Marxism,blames media ownership and distribution forcontinuing class disparities.Media is viewed as a commodity to be purchasedby the highest bidder.
Media BiasesMainstream: Tendency to report what everyoneelse is supporting, ignoring extreme or potentiallyoffensive material.Corporate: Information is slanted toward theinterests of corporate media ownersLiberal/Conservative: ideas have undue influenceon the coverage or selection of news stories
Frankfurt SchoolHistory: This school of thought was focused on the failed predictions of Marx’s social revolution, and looked to the superstructure (media) of society in explaining how historical processes of economic change were avoided. (McQuail, 1983)
Frankfurt SchoolTheory: In this theory, media lead to the domination of the ideology of the elite. This outcome is accomplished by media manipulation of images and symbols to benefit the interest of the dominant class.
Hegemonic TheoryTheory: Hegemony is the domination of a false ideology or way of thinking over true conditions. Ideology is not caused by the economic system alone but is ubiquitous. The dominant ideology perpetuates the interests of certain classes over others, and the media is obviously a major cause of this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCMzjJjuxQI
“Cultural Studies”Theory: Relying on semiotics, this approach focuses on the cultural meanings of media products; they look at the ways media content is interpreted, including both dominant and oppositional interpretations. Sees society as a field of competing ideas It can be used to integrate several insights from a variety of schools of thought.
Feminist Media StudiesWithin cultural studies, feminist media studieshave been a particularly strong research area.Feminist media studies have changed significantlyover the years.Gender Depiction Studies Gender ReceptionStudiesMedia studies are interested in how audiencesmold, or negotiate the meanings of media messages.
Gender-Depiction StudiesCritiquing gender stereotypes: Early studies of stereotypes in the media show gender was stable in distinguishing between characteristics and portrayals of men and women Ex: Men were depicted in more powerful roles and women were depicted in more subservient roles. I Love Lucy
Gender–Reception Studies How are depictions of women in the media are understood by audiences? Social and cultural factors in the family, institutions and other forces that influenced how media depictions are received or understood. For example, when seeing someone on television, your perception would be influenced by a raft of social forces that you have experienced in your life.• Ex: Desperate Housewives
Gender-Reception StudiesMeanings for what you view are not solelydetermined by depictions themselves, but by whatyou bring out of itYour own “norms”Grandma’s and Grandpa’s viewsThese norms can be based upon generational,geographical, cultural, etc.
NegotiationNegotiation is how individuals reach anunderstanding of gender roles and stereotypesthrough the media.Individuals do this by making choices about howthey wish to familiarize to various mediaprogramming.
Negotiation There are five parts of negotiating gender roles: 1) A person may pay attention to and idealize a certain stereotype Ex: Brittany Spears, Jessica Simpson or Barbie• Barbie
Negotiation2) Ignore “negative” depictions of women such as: Boys who think its not cool to pay attention to female stars Ex: chick flicks Mothers who want something different for their children (not allowed to have barbies as a child)
Negotiation3) Enjoy these images on an ironic level ex: desperate housewives and sex and the city
Negotiation4) Use these depictions to empower them to takesocial action Activism Slut walks
Negotiation5) Combination of the above Gender is important to the production of meaning Importance depends on how the viewers negotiate their orientation to the production
Four Core PrincipalsThe main objective of negotiation is to createsocial change.Feminism theory came up with these principals toachieve that goal
Four Core PrincipalsThe first principal focuses on: teaching and understanding social events concerning gender and their contexts emphasis on individual observation of gender behavior
Four Core PrincipalsThe second principal is the recognition of multiplerealitiesArgument that reality is subjective and thatmeanings result from social experienceAnd varies according to one’s social position
Four Core PrincipalsThe third Principal: emphasizes that the distribution of social power gives experiences and privileges to some at the expense of others. Lindsey Lohan goes in and gets out of jail once a week at the expense of our tax money Congressmen are adulterers at the expense of their wives
Four Core PrincipalsThe fourth principal (and underlying objective): is the goal to redistribute social power and achieve social fairness is the central goal is to destroy forms of subordination such as sexism, racism, heterosexism and class oppression
Three Forms of Feminism Liberal Feminism Emphasis on equality Does not feel like society needs complete overhaul But rather laws and opportunities need to be created to better allow women to become equals Most mainstream form of feminism• Ex: women get the right to vote and work outside the home
Three Forms of FeminismSocialist Feminism Mostly the same as liberal but does require the need to drastically change society Believes that true social equality won’t be achieved unless there is change Mainly economic change Focus on collective change and empowerment
Third Wave Feminism Focus on personal empowerment as a start for social change Popular among our generation Very individualistic Invites women to define themselves as they wish
bell hooks’s Critique of MediaCritical Tradition Feminist theories bell hooks’s Critique of Media
bell hooks’s Critique of Media“bell hooks” is the pen name of Gloria JeanWatkinshooks is a Distinguished Professor of English atCity College in NYC image from: myblackhistory.net
bell hooks’s Critique of Mediahooks helps to narrow the definition of feminism if feminism means everything, it means nothing feminism is "rooted in neither fear nor fantasy... Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression" (hooks, 2000, p.8).
bell hooks’s Critique of Mediacommunication should be used to disrupt anderadicate the idea of dominationdomination is “white supremacist capitalistpatriarchy”domination involves interlocking systems ofsexism, class elitism, capitalism, heterosexismyoutube video: hooks on white supremacist capitalist patriarchy
bell hooks’s Critique of MediaThe critique of media is important: media is pervasive and powerful media spreads oppression BUT, the media is not responsible for the ideology of oppressionyoutube video: hooks on media and oppression
bell hooks’s Critique of MediaEveryone contributes to the ideology ofoppression, even those who are oppressedMarginalized persons have a special responsibilityto disrupt oppressive discourse • persons at margins look “both from the outside in and from the inside out.”
bell hooks’s Critique of Media• hooks says decolonization is the way to disrupt domination• decolonization is the process of breaking with the assumptions of the reality of the dominant culture, including internalized inferior status• decolonization is a personal and personalizing process enacted in everyday life
bell hooks’s Critique of Media• There are two forms of decolonization: • Critique • Invention
bell hooks’s Critique of Media• Critique is the interrogation, challenging, and confrontation of media’s socialization of oppressive ideology• critique is important due to the pervasiveness of the media• “We have to critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture because it is so normalized by mass media and rendered unproblematic” (hooks, Mesa-Bains, 2006, p. 174).
bell hooks’s Critique of Media• hooks is not content to applaud visibility of blacks in the media or the fact that a movie was made by a black person... she questions every aspect of the representation. • objectification of women of color For more information on media’s spreading of oppression check out the Media Education Foundation videos featuring Jean Kilbourne called “Killing Us Softly.”
bell hooks’s Critique of Media• Invention is the creation of nondominating cultural forms through enactment • enactment is living and acting in nondominating and nonexploitive ways • individual choices about media consumption are • critique is meaningless ‘“without changing individual habits of being, without allowing those ideas to work in our lives and on our souls in a manner that transforms.”’
bell hooks’s Critique of Media• hooks suggests resistance pedagogy as important part of enactment • hooks says resistance pedagogy should be taught at all levels of public school• Rethinking Schools is a movement to include elements of social justice in every subject in every grade of public schools
Traditions in Media Study• Critical tradition on media is influenced by the cybernetic, sociocultural, and semiotic traditions• Cybernetic: lends that domination is reproduced by any interacting forces • not one force creates all of society’s power structures; power structures are a product of society-wide interaction of many institutions • Critical theories reject old-style system theory
Traditions in Media Study• Sociocultural: interpretation and social interaction are processes in which structures and meanings are made and emphasizes discourse• Semiotic: symbols are powerful in producing cultural forms, including oppressive arrangements