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Sociology of the mass media - Marxist perspective on the media


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Presentation on the Marxist perspective on the mass media for Cambridge A-Level Sociology students (originally for those in Hanoi, Vietnam)

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Sociology of the mass media - Marxist perspective on the media

  1. 1. The Sociology of Mass Media Marxist perspective on the media ownership and control
  2. 2. Key terms O________ I_______ R_________
  3. 3. Introduction • Marxism = notion that capitalism is unfair, exploitative etc. • Workers lack access to the means of p _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, and must sell their labour to capitalists. They add s_ _ _ _ _ _ value to products and receive an unfair wage • Marxists believe the mass media supports this system through broadcasting of ideologies; and does little to introduce alternative ideas
  4. 4. The role of ideology “In every epoch, the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class” Marx, K. (1846)
  5. 5. . • Media as means for ruling class to maintain their h_ _ _ _ _ _ _ and dominance • Media ensures the populace absorb and accept capitalist ideology; that life is about working hard for a wage and consuming capitalist products
  6. 6. • Ideology = false but influential set of . ideas, values and norms to make sure the WCs accept capitalism and don’t threaten its stability
  7. 7. . - Institutions e.g. education, religion and mass media (part of the cultural s_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _) aim to persuade us that capitalism is m _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (success based on hard work and natural talent) - WCs experience f_ _ _ _ consciousness; blinded to the reality “They are not child-like, but they are childish. Their primitivism is not that of the undeveloped, but of the forcibly retarded.” Adorno, T. A
  8. 8. . “Life has become the ideology of its own absence.” “In so far as the culture industry arouses a feeling of well-being that the world is precisely in that order suggested by the culture industry, the substitute gratification which it prepares for human beings cheats them out of the same happiness which it deceitfully projects.”
  9. 9. . • Media owners aim to transmit a conservative, conformist ideology in the form of news and “entertainment”
  10. 10. . • Miliband, R. (1973): the role of the media is to shape how people think about the world • Rarely are people told about why some people live in luxury and others in poverty
  11. 11. • . and often presented as Alternative viewpoints rarely heard; troublemaking or anti-nationalistic • The owners of mass media have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo • Tunstall and Palmer (1991): government controls the media less now than before; instead media conglomerates are granted freedom in exchange for supporting the govt. Deregulation = gain support (or silence)
  12. 12. Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi controlled the Italian media before storming to power in 1994…
  13. 13. . • BUT generally, is this Marxist “conspiracy theory” always accurate..? • Is there really such a deliberate effort to manipulate the public?
  14. 14. . • Curran (2003): from 1890-1970, “press barons” openly used media as a vehicle for their political propaganda, undermining journalistic integrity Lord Beaverbrook, the “press baron” government minister who owned the Daily Express newspaper and London Evening Standard
  15. 15. . • Curran (2003): however, this went “up a gear” after 1974, when Murdoch bought the Sun and the Times • Now, the media controllers began aiming solely for profit; not to maintain their own governmental positions • Murdoch’s papers have from the start been right-wing; because that sells more copies
  16. 16. . • Murdoch’s papers all supported former-PM Margeret Thatcher between 1979-1992, due to the Conservatives’ economic policy • However, in the USA, his Fox network of “entertainment” often shows programs that many see as “anti-establishment” (I don’t) e.g. Married with Children and the Simpsons
  17. 17. • . by an Curran: media owners are NOT united ideological quest…they simply aim for profits • They are “ruthlessley individualistic”, NOT a unified body. They aim to get ahead of their competitors e.g. Murdoch’s papers alone supported the Iraq war, and his Sky News refused to cover Chinese pro-democracy protests  “because of his economic relationships with the USA and China (???) TP book)