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Chapter 2
Perspectives on Mass Communication
Key terms
Paradigm: a model or pattern that a person uses to analyze
something

1. Functional approach: emphasizes the way...
Example: The Apprentice
The functional approach would ask why
people watch this show. What about the
show appeals to men, ...
Functional analysis
Asks, “why?”
•Why do you watch TV?
•Why do you go to the movies?
•Why do you use Facebook?
Mass communication in society
•
•
•
•

Mass media is pervasive
Different people use different media for different purposes...
Functions of Mass Communication for
Society
•

•

•

Surveillance: the news and information
role of the media*. The media ...
Consequences of relying on the media
surveillance function
• With electronic media, news travels
FAST

It took months for ...
Dysfunctions of the media
• Media can cause panic
and anxiety
In 2004, many reports
concluded bird flu would kill
150 mill...
Interpretation
• The mass media do not supply just
facts and data, they also provide
information on the ultimate
meaning a...
Linkage
• Mass media are able to join
different elements of society
that are not directly connected

Advertising links the...
Transmission of Values
• Also called the socialization function: the ways
an individual comes to adopt the behavior and
va...
Mass media & social values
Sometimes, the media
consciously tries to instill
values and behavior in the
audience, and/or e...
Entertainment
• By 2011 more than 50 million
people in the United States had seen
Avatar at a theater.
• About 110 million...
Consequences of the entertainment
function
Consequences: entertainment that is carried
by the mass media must appeal to a ...
How people use the mass media
(microanalysis)
Functional approach is a uses-and-gratifications
model, that states audience...
1. Cognition
The act of coming to KNOW
something
•Using the media to learn
something
•Example: current events,
news
•Peopl...
2. Diversion
Using the media to take our attention
elsewhere. Three major forms of diversion:
1.Stimulation: seeking relie...
3. Social Utility
Social Utility describes the human need
to strengthen contact with family
members, friends, our entire s...
4. Affiliation
Affiliation refers to a person’s
desire to feel a sense of
belonging or involvement
within a social group
•...
5. Expression
Self-expression refers to individuals’ need to
express their inner thoughts, feelings, and
opinions.
•The fi...
6. Withdrawal
Withdrawal describes using the media to create
a barrier between themselves and other people
•“I’ll do that ...
Key concepts: critical/cultural model
Culture: is a complex concept that refers to the common values,
beliefs, social prac...
Key concepts: critical/cultural model
Ideology: a specific set of ideas or
beliefs, particularly regarding
social and poli...
Development of the
critical/cultural model
The critical/cultural approach examines
such concepts as ideology, culture,
pol...
Development of the
critical/cultural model
•They noted that, just as big firms
controlled the production of
economic goods...
Development of the
critical/cultural model

Great Britain (late 1950s and early 1960s)
Scholars at the Centre for Contempo...
Development of the critical/cultural
model: British Cultural Theory
• A theory developed by
British film critics
suggested...
Critical/cultural approach
• Important to the cultural studies
group were the values that were
represented in the content....
Critical/cultural approach in the US
• This approach gained
prominence in the United
States during the 1970s and
1980s, an...
Critical/cultural approach in the US
• The audience is not passive in
this approach – they are free to
reject or accept cu...
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COM 101 | Chapter 2: Perspectives on Mass Communication

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COM 101 | Chapter 2: Perspectives on Mass Communication

  1. 1. Chapter 2 Perspectives on Mass Communication
  2. 2. Key terms Paradigm: a model or pattern that a person uses to analyze something 1. Functional approach: emphasizes the way that audiences use mass communication and the benefits that people receive from media consumption 2. Critical/cultural approach: examines the underlying power relationships in media exposure and stresses the many meanings and interpretations that the audience members find in media content 3. Empirical approach: uses the techniques of the social sciences, such as experiments and surveys, to investigate the cognitive, attitudinal, and behavioral effects of mass communication* *the empirical approach is covered later on in the semester. We will only be discussing the functional and critical/cultural approach in this chapter
  3. 3. Example: The Apprentice The functional approach would ask why people watch this show. What about the show appeals to men, or women? Does the audience learn anything? Do people like to play along? Do they talk about the show with their friends? The critical/cultural approach would investigate the role editing and casting plays in creating a reality experience, how does the show portray capitalism? Does it suggest wealth is an important value? Does it glorify competition over cooperation?
  4. 4. Functional analysis Asks, “why?” •Why do you watch TV? •Why do you go to the movies? •Why do you use Facebook?
  5. 5. Mass communication in society • • • • Mass media is pervasive Different people use different media for different purposes Society requires communication Function/dysfunction Two types of analyses: 1. Macroanalysis: take the perspective of a sociologist and look through a wide- angle lens to consider the functions performed by the mass media for the entire society 2. Microanalysis: look through a close- up lens at the individual receivers of the content, the audience, and ask them to report on how they use mass media
  6. 6. Functions of Mass Communication for Society • • • Surveillance: the news and information role of the media*. The media as sentinels and lookouts. On any given day, about 60 million Americans are exposed to masscommunicated news Beware surveillance: when the news/information media warn the public about something. i.e. weather alerts, terrorism warnings, global warming Instrumental surveillance: information that is useful in an everyday manner. e.g. stock prices, movie listings, “lifestyle” articles *Not all types of surveillance come from the traditional news media. For example, HBO’s Sex and the City performed a surveillance function for fashions and designer footwear.
  7. 7. Consequences of relying on the media surveillance function • With electronic media, news travels FAST It took months for the news of the end of the War of 1812 to travel across the Atlantic. In contrast, more than 90% of the U. S. population knew about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, within 2 hours of the events. • Sometimes speed leads to inaccuracy In 2011, NPR erroneously reported that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had died following a shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona. • The media shows us more than we can personally verify Credibility is what makes news believable, reliable. According to the news, the Mars rover is collecting data. Can you personally verify this?
  8. 8. Dysfunctions of the media • Media can cause panic and anxiety In 2004, many reports concluded bird flu would kill 150 million people worldwide (this never happened) • The media decides what/who “matters” status conferral: media attention raises prominence
  9. 9. Interpretation • The mass media do not supply just facts and data, they also provide information on the ultimate meaning and significance of events • Media gatekeepers decide what makes it into the newscast/newspaper/magazine and what doesn’t • Editorials, TV news specials, cable news roundtable shows, reviews, political cartoons Consequences: many opinions are presented, there is no guarantee that opinions by experts are accurate and valid, people might let the media do their thinking for them
  10. 10. Linkage • Mass media are able to join different elements of society that are not directly connected Advertising links the needs of buyers with the products of sellers • When geographically separated groups share a common interest and are linked by the media. Example: Social Networking sites, eBay, Craigslist Consequences: In 2011 it was estimated that there were more than 1,000 “hate” terrorist-related sites on the Internet; children bullying each other via social networks; pro-ana “thinspo” websites
  11. 11. Transmission of Values • Also called the socialization function: the ways an individual comes to adopt the behavior and values of a group • By watching the media, we learn how people are supposed to act and what values are important • Consequences: • Media stereotypes What do you think some of those are? How does the media portray the American family over the years?
  12. 12. Mass media & social values Sometimes, the media consciously tries to instill values and behavior in the audience, and/or enforce social norms • • • • newspapers reporting whether or not a car accident victim was wearing a seatbelt smoking on TV anti-drug ads Jonas Brothers purity pledge
  13. 13. Entertainment • By 2011 more than 50 million people in the United States had seen Avatar at a theater. • About 110 million people watched the 2011 Super Bowl on the Fox Network. • The video game Call of Duty: Black Ops sold more than 5 million copies the first day it was on sale. The emergence of mobile media and the internet have increased the entertainment function of the mass media
  14. 14. Consequences of the entertainment function Consequences: entertainment that is carried by the mass media must appeal to a mass audience. As a result, media content is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of taste. More programs that resemble Survivor and Jerry Springer will find their way to TV than will opera performances. •We are more apt to see sequels such as Star Trek VIII than we are to see Much Ado About Nothing II and More King Lear. •Rock radio stations outnumber classical stations 20 to 1. •Critics have charged that the mass media will turn Americans into a nation of watchers and listeners instead of doers.
  15. 15. How people use the mass media (microanalysis) Functional approach is a uses-and-gratifications model, that states audiences have needs and desires that are satisfied by media and non-media sources. Six category system: 1.Cognition 2.Diversion 3.Social Utility 4.Affiliation 5.Expression 6.Withdrawal
  16. 16. 1. Cognition The act of coming to KNOW something •Using the media to learn something •Example: current events, news •People use the media in a cognitive way when they want to understand the world
  17. 17. 2. Diversion Using the media to take our attention elsewhere. Three major forms of diversion: 1.Stimulation: seeking relief from boredom or the routine activities of everyday life (I watch TV because I am bored, this special on the History Channel interests me) 2.Relaxation escape from the pressures and problems of day- to- day existence (Had a really stressful day at school, I relax by watching Honey Boo Boo or reading TMZ) The content is not the defining factor, since virtually any media material might be used for relaxation by some audience members. 3.Emotional release: Media consumption as catharsis - a release of pent-up emotion or energy. (horror movies, tearjerkers)
  18. 18. 3. Social Utility Social Utility describes the human need to strengthen contact with family members, friends, our entire social group •Conversational currency: using media as common ground for connecting with others Did you see The Avengers? What did you think of the Superbowl commercials? •Parasocial relationship: the phenomenon where people develop (one-sided) relationships with media characters. Example: fans of fictional characters, fans of a band, people who have favorite American Idol contestants, etc.
  19. 19. 4. Affiliation Affiliation refers to a person’s desire to feel a sense of belonging or involvement within a social group •The Internet is the primary medium that fulfills this function for many people. • • Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin Others include: online gaming, instant messaging, dating and matchmaking Web sites, and text messaging
  20. 20. 5. Expression Self-expression refers to individuals’ need to express their inner thoughts, feelings, and opinions. •The first examples of the need for selfexpression are the cave drawings done by early human beings •Since that time, the need for self-expression has been fulfilled primarily by creative and artistic activities such as music, painting, writing, dance, and sculpture •The Internet has opened up new vistas for selfexpression • • • Blogs, commenting on articles YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud Facebook pages can be personalized to express a person’s individuality Expression is an important function for the individual
  21. 21. 6. Withdrawal Withdrawal describes using the media to create a barrier between themselves and other people •“I’ll do that after I’m done watching my show.” Here, attending to mass media content is defined as a socially appropriate behavior that should not be interrupted. •People also use the media to create a buffer zone between themselves and others. •When you are riding a bus or sitting in a public place and do not want to be disturbed, you bury your head in a book, magazine, or newspaper. •If you are on an airplane, you might pop in your iPod ear buds and tune everybody out. •Television can perform this same function at home by isolating adults from children (“ Don’t disturb Daddy; he’s watching the game”) or children from adults (“ Don’t bother me now; go into the other room and watch Sesame Street ”).
  22. 22. Key concepts: critical/cultural model Culture: is a complex concept that refers to the common values, beliefs, social practices, rules, and assumptions that bind a group of people together Text: is simply the object of analysis. Texts are broadly defined: They can be traditional media content such as TV programs, films, ads, and books, or they can be things that do not fit into the traditional category, such as shopping malls, T-shirts, dolls, video games, and beaches. Meaning: the interpretations that audience members take away with them from the text. In fact, texts have many meanings; they are polysemic. Different members of the audience will have different interpretations of the same text.
  23. 23. Key concepts: critical/cultural model Ideology: a specific set of ideas or beliefs, particularly regarding social and political subjects. Mass communication messages and other objects of popular culture have ideology embedded in them. Hegemony: has to do with power relationships and dominance. In the United States, for example, those who own the channels of mass communication possess cultural hegemony over the rest of us. Maintains the “status quo.” How are gym teachers represented in our cultural products?
  24. 24. Development of the critical/cultural model The critical/cultural approach examines such concepts as ideology, culture, politics, social structure, and hegemony as they relate to the role of media in society •Origins of the critical/cultural model developed out of the Frankfurt School during the 1930s and 1940s. The Frankfurt School were committed to the ideals rooted in Marxism: the best way to understand how a society worked was to examine who controlled the means of production that met the basic needs of the population for food and shelter
  25. 25. Development of the critical/cultural model •They noted that, just as big firms controlled the production of economic goods, other big companies controlled the production of cultural goods •The culture industry exploited the masses just as capitalists did; they published and broadcast products based on standardized formulas that appealed to the mass audience and promoted & glorified capitalist culture •Media reinforces the status quo
  26. 26. Development of the critical/cultural model Great Britain (late 1950s and early 1960s) Scholars at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University noted that members of the British working class used the products of mass culture to define their own identities through the way they dressed, the music they listened to, the hairstyles they favored, and so forth. •The audience did not seem to be manipulated by the media, as the Frankfurt School argued; instead, the relationship was more complicated. •Audience members took the products of mass culture, redefined their meaning, and created new definitions of their selfimage. •This emphasis on meaning was reinforced by studies of film and television.
  27. 27. Development of the critical/cultural model: British Cultural Theory • A theory developed by British film critics suggested that cinematic techniques (camera angle, editing, imagery) subtly but effectively impose on the audience the meanings preferred by the filmmaker. • However, audience members were free to resist and come up with their own meanings. Bansky’s Napalm (2004)
  28. 28. Critical/cultural approach • Important to the cultural studies group were the values that were represented in the content. • Marxists note that the values of the ruling class became the dominant values that were depicted in mass media and other cultural products. • The dominant values that were represented were those of white, upper- class, Western males. • The media worked to maintain those values by presenting versions of reality on TV and films that represented this situation as normal and natural, as the way things should be (cultural norms)
  29. 29. Critical/cultural approach in the US • This approach gained prominence in the United States during the 1970s and 1980s, and was adopted by communication researchers and scholars engaged in feminist studies • Examined the role of the patriarchy in media and cultural products • How were women portrayed in the 1980s on TV and in film? How about now?
  30. 30. Critical/cultural approach in the US • The audience is not passive in this approach – they are free to reject or accept cultural norms encoded into cultural products • Do you think audiences are passive or active? • This approach also includes studying cultural myths embodied in mass communication Example: Star Trek relies on the telling of cultural myths of frontier expansion and exploration

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