We are now in an age of Media 2.0
This is more participative, more interactive and more democratic.
The REALLY democratic aspects of this we can call ‘WE MEDIA’.
- or -
The ‘veneer’ of new digital democracy masks ‘1.0’ – style control
and surveillance by big corporations;
‘We media’ is the luxury of a tiny minority in the affluent, developed
We have been colonised by the machines we have created.
Have the affordances of the internet, cross platform media and fan
interaction really democratised media and culture or should we still
fear ‘Big Ideology’?
Society is ‘naturally’ divided into 3 classes of citizens, who
each “know their place”:
Best to keep the workers distracted – the cave (early media).
Those with wisdom exercise authority over the masses. These
people possess ‘reason’.
Justice = doing one’s job, not interfering with the order of the
state, not questioning.
Self-discipline crucial (and repression – link to Freud).
In the ideal state, the majority of people have little power over
their lives. They are not capable of ruling themselves:
1859 – On Liberty.
Centres on notion of liberty.
Individual freedom = collective freedom.
Everyone free to do what they want, as long as they don’t harm anyone
So no need for surveillance etc.
A human being should only be restrained from acting in a certain way if
that action can reasonably be expected to harm others.
A self-regarding action is OK.
An other-regarding action is only OK if it does not harm others.
Mill in practice - Discussion
Which of these are self-regarding and which are other-
regarding / potentially harmful to others?
Smoking in public
Masturbating in private
Obsessively touting for ‘Likes’ on Facebook
Writing a book disputing the existence of God.
Paying a prostitute to hit you.
Wearing a veil on religious grounds.
Playing Minecraft 8 hours a day
Marx and Marxism
Power is held by the ruling class
They control economic distribution AND ideology
The system reproduces these power relations by
presenting them as ‘normal’
Althusser (ideology) and Gramsci (hegemony) offer
extensions of Marxism
Class struggle is the suggested response
MEDIA = IDEOLOGICAL STATE APPARATUSES
(Negatively) Benefits Street: The Return of Naked Ideology
The idea that we live in a post-ideological society proceeds a little too quickly: cynical
reason, with all its ironic detachment, leaves untouched the fundamental level of
ideological fantasy, the level on which ideology structures the social reality itself. (Zizek,
Benefits Street is, in spirit, straight out of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle: a sort of
visual vomit-fest in which you can binge on things you purport to hate the sight of, and
then purge yourself on Twitter, venting empty outrage then going back for more. (Lynsey
Hanley, Guardian, 8.1.14)
The very notion of a ‘benefits culture’ exemplifies the discursive operations of othering,
with the power of (mis)representation as so often exercised through popular culture in the
form of television documentary and extreme, often hateful paratextual responses.
Consider ITV’s Ann Widdecombe versus The Benefits Culture – the most starkly
hegemonic binary imaginable – and more recently Channel 4’s Benefits Street, the focus
of this chapter.
Debates, often ill-informed and almost always marginalising, in media discourse in the
UK around benefit cuts and the opposition in the public imagination between the ‘worthy
poor’ and an underclass of ‘scroungers’ have been apparently ‘screen-grabbed’ by this
series. The political commentator and campaigner Owen Jones, on BBC’s Newsnight,
described the text as "a medieval stocks updated for a modern format", the result of a
“relentless, almost obsessive hunting down of the most extreme, dysfunctional
Zizek’s recent work has, for some, heralded a return to ‘doing hardcore ideology’ (Fenton,
The Frankfurt School
1930s extension of Marxism
The “Culture Industry”:
Popular culture compels ‘the masses’
to be passive and accepting of how things are
Adorno, Marcuse, Horkheimer, Benjamin
Contemporary focus – discourses of ‘talent’ + textual value regimes
Reproduction of alienation in reality / talent TV (impact on schooling)
Notions of ‘toxic childhood’ and associated moral panics.
Turner - there is no clear connection between the
exposure given to ‘everyday people’ by reality TV
and any kind of progressive or emancipatory shifts.
Thus the ‘demotic turn’ equates merely to the
increase in exposure of / to the public with no
necessary democratic outcomes.
Rather, the rise of celebrity culture – and with it the
clamour for us to seek the prize of commodifying
ourselves as celebrities - has had the effect of
charging the contemporary media with the power
to ‘translate’ cultural identity.
Lots of DIFFERENT IDEAS on this.
Very much a CONTESTED view.
Merrin | Gauntlett
• Celebrates key texts produced by media moguls and celebrated by well-
• Vague recognition of internet and new digital media, as an 'add on' to the
• A preference for conventional ideas where most people are treated as non-
expert audience 'receivers', or, if they are part of the formal media industries,
as expert 'producers'.
Merrin | Gauntlett
• Interest in the massive 'long tail' of independent media projects such as
those found on YouTube and many other websites, mobile devices, and
other forms of DIY media
• Recognition that internet and digital media have fundamentally changed the
ways in which we engage with all media
• Media now more democratic through people making and connecting
• Often seen in terms of ideals – eg JP Barlow’s Declaration of
Independence of Cyberspace (1996) had 3 central
– Information democracy – unfettered information construction and
dissemination, free from the stranglehold of MSM
– Democratization of decision making power – e-democracy, direct
– More engaged citizens
• Has any of this really happened?
• However, use of the web can be used by specific
– Visibility and publicity
– Organisation and mobilisation
– Coordination and collaboration
(Rheingold – smart mobs)
• Can often be short term issues
• Or is online activism merely “slacktivism”?
• Lievrouw shows how Global Justice Movement use
the internet for:
– Engagement (limited)
• MYTH of Twitter Revolution in Arab countries
• The Iranian Government is still in power!
• What are people REALLY using the
– Uses research in Eastern Europe and
– Sex, shopping and entertainment
– This is the REAL American Dream
– Authoritarian Governments happy for this
• View that the web is emancipatory is a “mis-reading of
• Part of the technologically deterministic, cyber-utopian
“Google Doctrine” or “Twitter Agenda” – an exaggeration
• Governments are actually using the
web for propaganda, control,
surveillance, censorship and
Tapscott & Williams
Perfect Storm – technology, digital natives, economics.
Alvin Toffler’s radical 1970 book, Future Shock, theorized that
things were changing so fast we would soon lose the ability to
cope. Rushkoff argues that the future is now and we’re
contending with a fundamentally new challenge. Whereas Toffler
said we were disoriented by a future that was careening toward
us, Rushkoff argues that we no longer have a sense of a future,
of goals, of direction at all. We have a completely new
relationship to time; we live in an always-on “now,” where the
priorities of this moment seem to be everything.
Wall Street traders no longer invest in a future; they expect
profits off their algorithmic trades themselves, in the ultra-fast
moment. Voters want immediate results from their politicians,
having lost all sense of the historic timescale on which
government functions. Kids txt during parties to find out if there’s
something better happening in the moment, somewhere else.