Liberal PluralismLiberal pluralism is the dominantperspective linked to capitalism.Therefore the UK, along with most ofEurope and the Western World, woulddescribe itself as liberal pluralist.In this perspective, individual choice andfreedom are seen as a crucial humanright (liberal) ...... and democratic societies allow a Democracy Index as published inrange of political views and opinions and January, 2007. The lighter the country, the more democratic it is.a range of political parties betweenwhich the population chooses in freeelections (pluralism).
Liberal Pluralism – splitting down the meaningLiberalism ...is the belief in the importance ofliberty and equal rights.Liberals hold a wide array of viewsdepending on their understanding ofthese principles, but generally, liberalssupport ideas such asconstitutionalism, liberaldemocracy, free and fairelections, human rights, capitalism andfreedom of religion.
Liberal Pluralism – splitting down the meaning Pluralism ... is the acknowledgment of diversity. The concept is used, often in different ways, in a wide range of issues. In politics, pluralism is often considered by supporters of modern democracy to be in the interests of its citizens, and so political pluralism is one of its most important features. In democratic politics, pluralism is a guiding principle which permits the peaceful coexistence of different interests, convictions and lifestyles. Unlike totalitarianism (e.g. Marxism), pluralism acknowledges the diversity of interests and considers it imperative that members of society accommodate their differences.
Conflicting perspectives on the role and function of the media
The media in a capitalist society: the Marxist viewMarxists view capitalist society as being one of class domination.In this the media are seen as part of an ideological arena in whichvarious class views are fought out.Ultimate control is increasingly concentrated in ‘monopoly capital’.Media professionals, whilst appearing to be self governing, are socialized into andinternalize the beliefs, standards and models (norms) of the dominant culture.The media, taken as a whole, relay frameworks which support the interests of thedominant classes...... and media audiences, while sometimes questioning and contesting theseframeworks, lack ready access to alternative meaning systems that would enablethem to challenge and possibly reject the cultural definitions offered by the media.
The media in a capitalist society: the Pluralist viewPluralists see society as a complex ofcompeting groups and interests, none ofthem predominant all of the time.Media organizations are seen asorganizational systems, enjoying animportant degree of autonomy from thestate, political parties and institutionalizedpressure groups.Control of the media is said to be in thehands of an autonomous managerial elitewho allow a considerable degree offlexibility to media professionals.
The media in a capitalist society: the Pluralist view (continued)A basic symmetry is seen to exist between media institutions and theiraudiences ... ... the relationship is generally entered into voluntarily and on apparentlyequal terms... ... and audiences are seen as capable of manipulating the media in an infinitevariety of ways according to their prior needs and dispositions, and as havingaccess to the plural values of society enabling them toconform, accommodate, challenge or reject. (Gurevitch et al. 1982)
Liberal pluralism: Defence against the criticsLiberal pluralists would defend the role of the mass media against Marxistcritics in the following ways:The mass media are free to operate and to express themselves with veryfew checks and balances.The free media performs an important and essential function inmonitoring the activities of politicians and powerful institutions.Therefore corruption cannot thrive (e.g. the role of The Washington Postin uncovering The Watergate Scandal in the mid 1970s; the role of TheDaily Telegraph in exposing the scandal of MPs’ expenses in 2010).The mass media ensures that the population is well educated and has agood understanding of issues when they vote.
Liberal pluralism: Defence against the criticsThe logic of the market place controls quality and value in the mass media justas it does in any other industry. If we are not happy we ‘vote with our wallets’.The state has the power to intervene in the media in two ways: i) it can prevent powerful companies from wiping out the opposition (e.g. Competition Commission). ii) it can invest in public sector corporations like the BBC whose priorities and decision making are not guided purely by the need to generate profits.
Liberal Pluralism: Media assumptionsThe Media provide the informationnecessary for citizens to act The Media are independent of the power of economics and governmentThe Media help to give voice to allviews and to provide a forum forpublic debate The Media operate to furnish information rather than to re-construct society to a political agenda.The Media serve as an independentinstitution keeping watch over self-serving government and excessiveinfluence of special interest groups
Marxism v. Liberal Pluralism and the MediaMarxist theorists tend to emphasize the role of the mass media in thereproduction of the status quo.Liberal pluralists emphasize the role of the media in promoting freedom ofspeech.