Does this refute or reinforce the notion of hegemony? Why are more journalists not from other backgrounds?
Marxism & Hegemony
Karl Marx io Gram Anton MARXISM&HEGEMONY Media Issues and DebatesA2 Media Studies @ KKS
MARXISM Marxism is based on the writings of 19th Century philosopher and social activist Karl Marx. His writings were a response to the extremes of poverty and exploitation he witnessed in the years after the British Industrial Revolution. His most famous book Das Kapital (1867) argued that in a capitalist society the most important and fundamentally antagonistic divisions are along class lines and that there are two fundamental classes: The Proletariat – Workers who have to sell their labour to survive The Bourgeoisie – The ruling class, own the means of production (i.e Factories), property or wealthA2 Media Studies @ KKS Marx argued that in capitalist systems the bourgeoisie dominates and exploits the proletariat in pursuit of profit. He also suggested that ideology, values and beliefs are important in persuading the proletariat to accept the power of the bourgeoisie. Marxism is subject to a wide variety of interpretations but essentially has the notion of class struggle as its core tenet
MARXISM&MASS MEDIA Marx’s ideas have been applied to the media in contemporary society to suggest that the world constructed in most mainstream media contributes to persuading the proletariat to accept capitalism as natural and inevitable, whilst simultaneously distracting them from complaining about exploitation. (Source: AQA Textbook)A2 Media Studies @ KKS “The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class” The Com unist M m anifesto (1848)
HEGEMONY Antonio Gramsci was a leading Italian Marxist however he disagreed with the Marxist view of how the ruling class maintained their status and power. He considered why given the inequality of capitalism the Proletariat did not simply rise up and revolt. He came up with the concept of Hegemony (or more specifically ‘Cultural Hegemony’)to describe how the ruling class dominate other classes by manipulating the culture of a society in order to present their view as being “common sense” or just “the way things are”. The ruling class cannot rule by force alone and rely on the ‘consent’ of the proletariat. So rather than question a system that clearly does not benefit them they are convinced that the dominant ideology is the only ideology. This is sometimes referred to as “Ruling by Consent”A2 Media Studies @ KKS
“Any dom inant ideology in any society presents itself as the ideology of that society as a whole. Its work is to deny the legitim acy of alternative and oppositional ideologies” Dyer (1979)A2 Media Studies @ KKS It should be noted that ideology is not necessarily a fixed set of ideas and is in a constant state of flux – its common goal however remains the same; to maintain the status quo of the dominant class.
CRITICISMS The problem with both Marx and Gramsci’s theories when applied to the media is that they assume audiences are passive and easily manipulated. Stuart Hall (1980), argued that the dominant ideology is typically inscribed as the preferred reading in a media text, but that this is not automatically adopted by readers. The social situations of readers/viewers/listeners may lead them to adopt different stances. Dominant readings are produced by those whose social situation favours the preferred reading; negotiated readings are produced by those who inflect the preferred reading to take account of their socialA2 Media Studies @ KKS position; and oppositional readings are produced by those whose social position puts them into direct conflict with the preferred reading.
This is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario! The Glasgow University Media Group (GUMG) suggests that media content does support the interests of those who run the capitalist system. However, this is an unintended by-product of the social backgrounds of journalists and broadcasters rather than a conscious capitalist conspiracy. The GUMG points out that most journalists working for national newspapers, television and radio tend to be overwhelmingly male, White, and middle class, e.g. 54% are privately educated. (source)A2 Media Studies @ KKS
MANUFACTURINGCONSENT The term “Ruling by consent” was used by John Pilger at the start of his documentary “The War You Don’t See”. We know from watching this that the mainstream media in the UK and USA chose not to print or broadcast anything that ran contrary to the ‘war agenda’ that the governments of both countries were pursing. Even though there was strong evidence that the public were being mislead. This is what Chomsky (1992) refers to as ‘manufacturing consent’. In other words information is ‘filtered’ through the media therefore influencing audience’s ideas and thoughts. Chomsky does not suggest that this is done deliberately or conspiratorially but is done through a media institutions ownA2 Media Studies @ KKS censorship of what is included in media texts. This filtering is often based on the institutions need for profit and to appeal to consumers
Still with me? Marxism and Hegemony are broad concepts that encompass a wide range of political, social, economic and cultural issues – and both pre-date modern media as we know it by quite some time. Essentially we are interested in how the terms can be used in relation to contemporary media. Read through the Case Study on pg 51 of your textbook for some examples. Marxism focuses on relationships based on social class; however the concept of hegemony can also be applied to the power relations found in gender, sexuality and race. Consider the representations of gay characters, women and other races/ethnicities in the media. Can you think of any examples ofA2 Media Studies @ KKS how the dominant ideology is enforced? (a useful starting point could be looking at how women are represented in advertising)