Media and society relationship

Communication Breakdown: What is the nature of the relationship between media and society?

media and society relationship

THE RELATIONSHIP AMONG THE NEWS MEDIA, SOCIETY, AND CULTURE: THOUGHTS ON OBJECTIVITY,. METHOD AND PASSION. GAYE TUCHMAN (pp. Digital communication is changing the relationship between media and society. In this new and increasingly complex media environment. Media is the voice of a society. There are channels and types of media. Media is so important that a known scholar Marshall MacLuhan says that medium is the.

This is the idea that the meaning of symbols is learned through interaction and then mediates that interaction. In other words, people give things meaning, and that meaning controls their behavior.

Abusive Relationships in Media and Society

The American flag is an example. Americans have decided that an array of red, white, and blue cloth, assembled in a particular way, represents not only the nation but its values and beliefs. The flag has meaning because Americans have given it meaning, and now that meaning governs certain behavior.

For example, Americans are not free to remain seated when a color guard carries the flag into a room. Symbolic interaction is frequently used when studying the influence of advertising, because advertisers often succeed by encouraging consumers to perceive products as symbols that have meaning beyond their actual function. This is called product positioning.

Another macroscopic view of the societal role of the media is social construction of reality, developed by sociologists Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann. Their book, The Social Construction of Reality, although never mentioning mass communication, offered an explanation of how, using signs and symbols, societies construct and maintain the realities that allow them to function.

media and society relationship

Social construction of reality theory argues that people who live in a society share "an ongoing correspondence" of meaning. Things generally mean the same to all members. A stop sign, for example, has just about the same meaning for everyone. Things that have "objective" meaning are symbols—people routinely interpret them in the usual way.

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However, there are other things in the environment to which people assign "subjective" meaning. These things are signs. In social construction of reality, then, a car is a symbol of mobility, but a Cadillac is a sign of wealth or success. In either case, the meaning is negotiated, but for signs the negotiation is a bit more complex. Through interaction in and with the culture of a given society over time, people bring together what they have learned about their society's signs and symbols to form typification schemes—collections of meanings assigned to some phenomenon or situation.

These typification schemes form a natural backdrop for people's interpretation of— and therefore the way they behave in—"the major routines of everyday life, not only the typification of others… but typifications of all sorts of events and experiences" Berger and Luckmann,p.

When people enter a room, they automatically recall the meaning they have given to its elements—desks in rows, chalkboard, and lectern. They recognize this as a classroom and automatically impose their "classroom typification scheme.

These "rules of behavior" are not published on the classroom door. Social construction of reality is widely applied to the study of how the media, especially news, shape people's political realities.

Crime offers one example. What do politicians mean when they say they are "tough on crime"? What is their and people's reality of crime? It is likely that "crime" signifies is a sign for gangs, drugs, and violence. The statistical, rather than the socially constructed, reality of crime is that there is ten times more white-collar crime in the United States than there is violent crime. Social construction theorists argue that the "building blocks" for the construction of this "reality" come primarily from the mass media.

Symbolic interaction and social construction of reality provide a strong foundation for another macroscopic theory of the relationship between society and the media.

Cultivation analysis says that television "cultivates" or constructs a reality of the world that, although possibly inaccurate, becomes the accepted reality simply because people believe it to be true.

They then base their judgments about and their actions in the world on this television-cultivated reality. Although cultivation analysis was developed by George Gerbner out of concern over the effects of television violence, it has been applied to countless other television-cultivated realities, such as beauty, sex roles, religion, the judicial and political processes, and marriage. In all cases, its assumptions are the same—television cultivates its own realities, especially for heavy viewers.

Cultivation analysis is based on five assumptions: Television is essentially and fundamentally different from the other mass media.

media and society relationship

Unlike books, newspapers, and magazines, viewing requires no reading ability. Unlike the movies, it requires no mobility or money; it is in the home and it is free. Unlike radio, it combines pictures and sound.

Media and society in the digital age: Rethinking the relationship

It is the first and only medium that can be consumed from people's very earliest to their last years of life.

Television is the "central cultural arm" of U. Gerbner and his colleaguesp. The realities cultivated by television are not necessarily specific attitudes and opinions but rather more basic assumptions about the "facts" of life. By the choices the producers make, television news and entertainment programs present a broad picture of "reality" with little regard for how their "reality" matches that of their audiences.

The major cultural function of television is to stabilize social patterns, that is, maintain the existing power relationships of the society. Because the media industries have a stake in the political, social, and economic structures as they exist, their stories rarely challenge the system that has enriched them. The observable, measurable, independent contributions of television to the culture are relatively small.

This is not a restatement of limited effect theory. Instead, Gerbner explained its meaning with his Ice-Age analogy, arguing that just as a change in temperature of just a few degrees over centuries brought about the Ice Agea relatively small but pervasive degree of media influence can produce important social change.

media and society relationship

In other words, the size of the media's influence on society is not as important as its steady direction. Critical Cultural Theory A major influence on contemporary understanding of the relationship between the media and society comes from European scholarship on media effects. Critical cultural theory—the idea that the media operate primarily to justify and support the status quo at the expense of ordinary people—is rooted in neo-Marxism.

Traditional Marxists believed that people were oppressed by those who owned the means of production—the base—that is, the factories and the land.

media and society relationship

Modern neo-Marxist theorists believe that people are oppressed by those who control the culture—the superstructure—in other words, the mass media. Modern critical cultural theory encompasses a number of different conceptions of the relationship between the media and society, but all share a number of identifying characteristics.

They are macroscopic in scope. They are openly and specifically political. Based in neo-Marxism, their orientation is from the political left.

Their goal is at the least to instigate change in the media policies of governments; at the most, their goal is to effect wholesale change in the media and societal systems. Critical cultural theories assume that the superstructure, which favors those in power, must be altered. Finally, they investigate and explain how elites use the media to maintain their positions of privilege and power.

Issues such as media ownership, government-media relations, and corporate media representations of labor and disenfranchised groups are typical topics of study for critical cultural theory.

media and society relationship

Their approach valued serious art—literature, symphonic music, theater—and saw its consumption as a means to elevate people toward a better life. Typical media fare—popular music, slapstick radio and movie comedies, newspapers full of soft-news—pacified ordinary people while assisting in their repression.

The influence of Horkheimer and Adorno on U. The limited effects paradigm was about to blossom, neo-Marxism was not well received in the United States, and their ideas echoed claims by the mass society theory of a debasing popular media.

More recently, though, the Frankfurt School has been "rediscovered," and its influence can be seen, for example, in the British cultural theory. During the s and s, working-class people who had fought for their country were unwilling to return to England's traditional notions of nobility and privilege. Many saw the British media supporting long-standing class distinctions and divisions.

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This environment of class conflict produced theorists such as Stuart Hall, who first developed the idea of the media as a public forum where various forces fight to shape perceptions of everyday reality. Hall trusted that the media could serve all people, but that the forum was dominated by the reigning elite because of factors such as ownership patterns, the commercial orientation of the media, and sympathetic government policies toward the media.

In other words, the loudest voice in the cultural forum's give-and-take belonged to those who were already well entrenched in the power structure. British cultural studies theory provides a home for much feminist research, as well as on popular culture both in Europe and in the United States. Contemporary Theories Modern theories of the relationship between the media and society have to contend with a mass-mediated world, which was not a factor in the creation of the perspectives discussed above.

Digitalization, especially in the form of the Internet and the World Wide Webposes a significant challenge to much of what is known and understood about the relationship between the media and society. For example, many theorists go as far as to reject the term "mass communication," preferring instead the term "mediated communication. Clearly, new conceptions of how the media and society interact will be called for.


Communication science and the media literacy movement are two such examples. Many empirical media researchers concluded that the constant debate about competing ideas and research methods was impeding the development of a meaningful understanding of how the media and society interact.

They proposed communication science, a perspective that integrates approaches grounded in quantitative, empirical, behavioral research methods. It unites limited effects research with some of the beliefs of culture theory in a potentially active audience, and with research on interpersonal communication.

Communication science is as an effort to rebuild the empirical media research tradition by breaking its association with limited effects and broadening it to address a larger range of research questions and issues. It is an effort to be inclusive rather than exclusive, to reject many of the outdated assumptions of the limited effects paradigm while retaining the strong empirical focus of that approach— to unify under a single banner empirical researchers working in all areas of communication.

In this way, communication scientists hope their microscopic research can lead to macroscopic theories about the relationship between the media and society. Cultural and critical cultural theories, because of their assertion that meaning and, therefore, reality are mutually created by the participants in a culture or society, provide the impetus for the media literacy movement. The arguments are straightforward. If a society debates and defines itself in a forum provided by the mass media, the society and the democracy that supports and sustains it will benefit from greater numbers of people being able to function appropriately and effectively in that forum.

If a society knows itself through the stories it tells about itself, people who understand how those stories are created, who can interpret them in personally important and relevant ways, or even who can create those stories themselves can best know and participate in that society. Every morning millions of Americans wake up to clock radios. Political candidates spend most of their campaign dollars on television ads to woo voters. The United States economy depends on advertising to create mass markets.

American children see unprecedented numbers of commercial messages a year. Through the mass media we learn almost everything we know beyond our immediate surroundings. What would we know of Baghdad or Tikrit or the Super Bowl if it were not for newspapers, television and other mass Medias?

The mass media bind communities together by giving messages that become a shared experience. In the United States, a rural newspaper editor scrambling to get an issue out may not be thinking about how his work creates a common identity among readers, but it does. The town newspaper is something everyone in town has in common. A shared knowledge and a shared experience are created by mass media, and thus they create the base for a community.

The same phenomenon occurs on a national level. News coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon bound Americans in a nationwide grieving process. Coverage of the death of Princess Diana prompted a global dialogue on celebrity coverage.

Stories of misdeeds help us figure out what we as a society regards as inexcusable. The news coverage of the impeachment of President Clinton did this. Mass media is essential for the ongoing process of society identifying its values. The leaders try to take over the national media right away as an essential vehicle to unify the population behind their cause and silence the opposition.

The trend of conglomeration in media poses a problem for society. Conglomeration affects the diversity of messages offered by the mass media. Conglomerates are trying to buy control or market domination not just in one medium but in all the media.

The aim is to control the entire process from an original manuscript or new series to its use in as many forms as possible.