mass media


What is mass media?

  • How communication is transmitted- this changes through culture and age 
  • for example older people may get media through newspapers and TV whereas younger people may choose to access media through their phone 
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Functionalist perspective on the media

  • has functions- provides entertainment/ can be used as socialization/ provides norms and values 
  • allows a collective experience to be formed- eg watching the olympics 
  • also helped with cnsumerism- children watch adverts and want the latest toy
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Conflict perspective on mass media

  • looks at the way in which media protrays divisions in society- race/gender/ethnicity etc 
  • Gatekeeping- small group of people that contorl the content of the media- controls what goes through the gates before reaching the public- some types of media are impacted more by this than others 
  • dominant ideolgy- the gatekeepers are often white males and topics such as women/ethnic minorities and LGBT are underepresented and stereotyped
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Feminist perspective of mass media

similar to conflict!

  • discusses dominant ideology and stereotypes
  • women underepresented 
  • women portayed as victims and obsessed with looks 
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The difference between old and new media

with new media....

  • digitality- computers are now used to code data and transmit 
  • interactivity- audiences can interact with the media and customize it 
  • dispersal- the media can now reach further audiences- now a part of everyday life 
  • virtuality- audiences can now enter virtual worlds 

accessible- digital media can be shared 

can now use one digital device to acess everything- convergence 

more power in the hadns of the audience 

more interactivity-  auience directly engaged 

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Positive view of New media


  • increased consumer choice- convergence- means people can access media in whichever way they choose- companies such as phone companies are competing-however this is just creating 'false needs' to make money- capitalism 
  • e-commerce revolution- increased interent shopping- shops closing 
  • revitalizing democracy- people can gain info such as policitcs 
  • global village- time and space barriers have been removed  
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Negative view of New media

Cultural Pessimist 

  • Cultural imperialism- it has lead to the westernisation of cultures- they dont have their own identity 
  • threat to democracy- control so people don't have freedom of speech 
  • commercialisation- benefits capitalism because we use it everyday 
  • decline in quality of popular culture- due to increase in 'popular culture'- there has been a decline in culture 
  • lack of regulation- hard to regulate the internet especially for children
  • undermines human relationships- people find it difficult to communicate face to face 
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Media models- hypodermic syringe model

example- London riots 

  • no way that the audience can resist the messages that the media suggets 
  • this is because it's being injected into them 
  • the media does advertise and people do go out and buy a product 
  • perceives the audience as being passive who are easily manipulated 
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Two step flow model

this is that there are two steps to the audience receiving media. opinion leaders are the ones that recieve the message and this can be affected by their own beliefs and values 

they then pass this message on 

example- popular student is influenced by something in the media and they then pass it on 

  • takes into account that its not direct impact 
  • mesage can still be interpreted in different ways 
  • divides the people into oppinion leaders and the audience 
  • assumes people can not have own view without the media 
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Selective filter model

POSTMAN- 3 filters 

example- racist people only choose to look at the negatives of ethnic minorities not at the benefits 

  • one- what the audience choose to expose themselves to 
  • two- what the audience choose to take in 
  • three- what the audience choose to retain 

the media doesnt have direct effect on people- people can choose what they see 

the media could alter other opinions 

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Reception Analysis

  • people interpret media differently due to groups- class/gender/ ethnicity 
  • preffered reading- they dont take their own views seriously and take the media's opinion as the truth 
  • oppositional reading- people oppose the views of the media

takes into account people's backgrounds 

just accepts that everyone takes the media seriously  

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Cultural Effects model

  • Marxists see the media as a powerful ideological tool 
  • its expected that everyone interprets the media in the same way 
  • the drip drip effect shows that media is now part of everyday society 

accepts that dominant class rule the media 

a media saturated world means its diffciult to resist the messages of the media 

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Uses and gratification model

Blumer and McQuail- see audience as active.- people use the media in different ways. 

functionalists- media needs to fulfill needs of audience- the media can offer help 

knows we're not robots 

doesn't explain how different social groups use the media and to help with their identity 

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Mass Media- case study James Bulger

James Bulger 

was the two year old that was abducted and murdered by Venables and Thomson. 

He was taken to a railway where bricks were thrown at him.

they were both found guilty and sent to a young offending unit. Child's play 3, was the film that was evenutally banned because of the violence included. 

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Copycat- Bandura- BOBO doll

media violence if shown to a child for long enough leads to desensiting their violent effects as they are used to seeing violent- this means that they pick up on this and copy the actions 

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Folk devils and moral panic

  • The mass media is able to create stereotypes which reinforce prejudice.
  • they usually target minority groups who might be a threat to society 
  • sometimes these groups are branded as folk devils 
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Folk Devils & Moral panics- Stanley Cohen Interact

  • He carried out sociological research that found that people are labelled and change their actions to meet the lables that they are given 
  • e.g mods and rockers 
  • a modern day example is the London riots- a group targeted regulary is students 
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Representation of Sexuality- yes it is stereotyped

Batchelor found that being gay was not generally integrated into mainstream media representations. Rather, when it did appear, e.g. in television drama, it was represented mainly as a source of anxiety or embarrassment.

Gerbner et al: symbolic annihilation of gays finding that they are rarely portrayed as realistic and are negatively stereotyped. 

Craig: stereotypes 

-camp: flamboyant/fun

-macho- negative to masculinity 

-deviant- sexual predators/ AIDS 

-gays in news- ignored/offensive 

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Representations of sexuality- no it is not stereot

Gauntlett- things are changing 

- it could help with making the audience comfortable 'get to know gay/lesbians'

Pluralists would argue that it is not stereotypical but in fact just reality 

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Representations of Ethnicity 1

  • ethnic minorities under represented in senior management roles 
  • not many roles in media filled by a person from an ethnic minority group 
  • their interests and representations are marginalised and shown in 'special' programmes 
  • they are more likely to be involved with programmes about social issues 
  • lack of black women in the media

media stereoypes 

  • Hall said they are presented as cheating/cunning 
  • deviants and law breakers posing a threat to British culture e.g immigration 
  • causing social problems- underachieving boys 
  • limited talent and skills 
  • international problems 

these stereotypes are often attached to Eastern Europeans. these groups have been blamed for a range of social problems. e.g taking jobs but this is because of the fault of the government. 

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Explanations for stereotypes of Ethnicity

  • Pluralists - these representations reflect journalists views- (middle class white males) and providing what the audience want 
  • Cottle- these representations encourage people to identify themsleves 
  • Neo-marxists- these negative stereotypes are created by 'white eyes'- it creates and maintains negative stereotypes- this can make ethnic minorities vulnerable 
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Changing stereotypes of ethnicity

  • they appear to be changing 
  • appreciation of them- arts/music and media generally 
  • policies recruting more ethnic minorites as presenters 
  • more programmes, tv channels aimed at black and asians 
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Media representations of age 1

Ageism- ageism is present in British society but is not often challenged 

The difference between children years ago and children now...

up until the 15th century children were viewed as low status members- should be seen and not heard 

nowadays the role of the child is more dominant- the child often makes the family. life is child centred 

Life course 

childhood- helpless/innocent 

youth- irresponsible/rebellious 

adulthood- responsible/conformist 

old age- vulnerable/burden 

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media representations of age 2

  • McQueen- the status of age group is determined by economic circumstances- those in the middle have the most status


Functionalists- would argue that society needs the media  to support socialisation, the family and religion- it supports boundary maintenance, ensures children and adults are socially controlled 

children are seen in 6 ways- cute, little devils, brilliant, brave, accessories and modern


children are seen as motivated by relationships, school or religious  based issues 

not seen to be impacted by issues such as racism  

x there is limisted research on children and the media 

x most is based on American Sources 

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media representations- youth

there are sections of the media that target that age in particular 

Youthfulness is worshipped in some ways . e.g skincare 

however the youth are blames for issues in society 

the majority of moral panics have been concerned with young people's behaviour 


  • seen as problem in media 
  • always a golden age in society normally 20 years ago
  • he found that no matter what the date the 'golden age' is always 20 years ago
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Perspectives of youth in the media

Functionalists- media normalises boundaries- youth indulge in deviant behaviour but the meida reminds them not to

pluralist- reflects social reality- young people commit more crime- criminla behaviour is newsworthy 

interactionist- young people lablled as a threat by older people 

postmodernist- negative portrayl only a small aspect- new media to have a say 

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Representations of Elderly

McQueen- only small % represented in media 

old people portrayed as grumpy, mentally challenged, burden 

however elderly have disposable income which media can profit from 

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Representations of disability 1

Goffman- (stigma)

  • differences in people are stigmatised 
  • 2 types of stigma- discrediting stigma (clearly visible disabiltiy)/discreditable (hidden disability) 
  • people react to this stigma attached to them in two different ways- impression mangagement- taking part no matter what others think / and information management- controlling what people know about you 
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representation of disability 2

Oliver- (social exclusion) 

disabled people are excluded from society because of the attitudes of others. 

there are social barriers that stop them from taking part 

  • environments 
  • attitudes 
  • organisations 
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representations of disability 3

Cumberbatch- (lack of media representations) 

when people appear on tv their presence is determine by their disability- less likely to appear as just a 'person' 

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Representations of social class

General features 

  • the representations are often filtered through the rich and powerful upper class and those who produce the media 
  • Jones suggets that the media suggests we are all middle class or at least aspire to be 
  • genrerally presented as a lifestyle choice rather than down to the economy 
  • stories about middle class more likely to be reported 
  • in media coverage the working class are devalued and middle class interests are portrayed 
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Representations of working class

  • working class under represented in media- when they are represented they are stereotyped ina negative way, 
  • there are 4 main media represntations of working class.

- dumb and stupid (Butsch) this reinforces ideological hegemony of the dominant class.

-source of trouble and conflict- working class presented as undesirable welfare scroungers, lone parents and those who are unable to cope with delinquent children 

-as liviing in idealized/romanticized  working class communities- this suggests that they are presented as being tradditional hard working members of a close communtiy- however there has been a decline in this 

- as white trash and scum 'chavs'- worthless/disagusting 

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representations of middle class

  • often over represented in the media 
  • more exposure of middle class lifestyles 
  • presented in a positive light- mature/sensible/educated/ and successful 
  • middle class families are presented as stable units- and everyone should aspire 
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Representations of gender 1

General features 

  • under representation of women in the media industry- in positions - glass ceiling- facing a barrier in their careers 
  • male gaze- these representations are often filtered through men and they could be seen as sexual objects 
  • the under representation and stereotyping of women- men mentioned in articles/headlines- women known as mrs or mother 
  • Patriarchal ideology and the symbolic annihalation of women 
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the media and general construction of gender diffe

  • connel- gender identities are constructed by the media and reproduces the dominant ideology of men and women - the media create and reinforce stereotypes. 
  • eg wolf- myth of beauty women are seen for their appearance and they are expected to conform to this. 
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Female representations

  • The WAG- concerned with beauty, romance, pretty and sexually attractive 
  • sex object- slim, sexually seductive 
  • supermum- partime worker concentrates mainly on her children 
  • the 'angel' who is good
  • the ball breaker- sexually active, independant not dependant on men 
  • the victim- men being the cause of their problems 

Fergurson said the cult of feminnity- magazines prepare girls for adult roles that they should undertake 

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Representation of men

  • shown in more roles 
  • carrying higher status 
  • Gilmore- the provider, the protector and impregenator 
  • men should not show feelings 
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explanations for stereotypes of gender

  • Pluralists- it is what the media audiences want 
  • liberal feminists- it is because of the under representation of media 
  • marxists and marxists femiminists- a need to make profits 
  • radical feminists- it is because of patriarchal and the ideology, the media world is a mans world 
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are media stereotypes on gender changing?

McRobbie- postmodern society there is much more flexibility on representations of men and women 

Gauntlett- men and women should be treated more equally 

Changing stereoypes of women

  • Independance 
  • their position in society is changing 
  • successful in education
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Who owns the media?

The media is owned by few powerful companies

  • the media is produced and transmitted by media outlets 
  • media companies often own different forms of media- cross media ownership 
  • media companies diverisfy- they buy other companies that make different kinds of media 
  • some media companies own media in several different countries 
  • over the last 30 years media ownership has become concentrated 
  • the individuals who own and control companies have huge power and information within society- they control what we as the auience see and hear 
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whether new media is revolutionary?

some sociologists believe that cultures, economies and even individuals are transformed because of new media. 

  • Cornford and Robins- they argued that they're only revolutionary because of technology that alredy exists- some people still have to use landline to access the internet --- they also argued that interactivity isnt exclusive to the media, newspapers- can have views 
  • Boyle and Haynes looked at sports and said mobiles added to how people viewed the media it didn't relace it 

these two sociologists wrote  before revoltuionary inventions- new media is always changing meaning they become outdated quickly 

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uses of new media

  • young people are the biggest users of new media 
  • older people's use of the media is increasing

people who can access media are digital underclass 

  • lack of internet access can be a major barrier 
  • people in poverty excluded from the media- they cant take full part in society 
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ownership of the media- marxists

  • Traditional marxism- media owners control what we see- the idea that they exploit their power to manipulate the content of the media- media owners tell editors what stories to cover- these messages serve the idea that the proletariat are below the bourgeoiose 
  • neo- marixists- the managers contorl the content and the values and ideas of the ruling class are presented. hegemony occurs. 
  • agenda setting- they argue that media professionals set an agenda for discussion and some things are excluded from being reported because they dont conform to ruling class ideology 
  • want to make a profit- they wont risk selling something that the company wont make a profit from 
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ownership and control over the media- Pluralism

media reflects the values and beliefs of society

  • argue that society is made up of lots of different and interacting parts of society 
  • what you consume forms your identity 
  • because people can choose what they want to see- the media produce the content that the audience want to see 

audience choose what to consume 

  • not one gorup or society can push their views because there is always another view 
  • they say this gives consumers power- if they dont like what they see then they can use another outlet 
  • media owners want to stick to what consumers like because they want to stay in business 
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ownership and control over the media-pluralism 2

journalists can choose what the write about 

  • decide what media content to publish- this limits the power of owners and creates diversity
  • often follow professional codes to ensure they are reporting in an honest and unbias way 

the state restricts the power of media owners 

  • groups and organisations to regulate the media 
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Post modernist

  • assumptions- people accept info that they are given and think they need it 
  • the perspective-  media is saturated and underpinned by globalisation- people start asking questions- no such thing as the absolute truth 
  • Bauldrillard- hyper reality-  people find it difficult to distinguish between reality in media and rela life 

x all media messages are interpreted differently 

  • media producers-the distinction between media producers and consumers has become less clear 
  • interpretations- people can pick what they want

x not based on reearch

x more choice means potentially more of the same 

x ignore inequalities 

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evaluation of post modernist and pluralism

  • Curran- owners still interfere/ the media in the Uk has been controlled by very small group of people 
  • Milliband- owners who favour capitalism have ultimate control- things that show inequlity in a bad light are not shown in the media e.g poverty 
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Globalisation and popular culture

McLuhan- 'global village' he suggests that technology has brought people together, the space and time between people has been removed. 

x not everyone has resources 

Cohen/Kennedy - countries are becoming more integrated and connected 

x some countries have more access than others 

consequences of globalisation and media- things are being transported- crime/ money/people- crossing national boundaries and connecting the world. lives of people can be shaped from far away 

high culture- regarded as intelligent-'i like this because it shows that i am intelligent' 

folk culture- traditions and rituals of a culture- e.g spain having siesta 

popular culture- products of mass media in capitalist socieities- tv/ magazines- enjoyed by the mass population 

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Selecting and presenting news 1

The selection and presentation of news is influenced by practical issues- time/space/money 

  • time- easily availble stories- editors and journalists have contracts they go to again and again- only some views 
  • technical contstraints- some places are esier to get cameras- these places tend to have top stories 
  • budget- often go to where they already have people- cheaper production 
  • competition- more likely to publish stories that they think will make their paper the best that day 

celebrities, politicians and groups in society release press releases which as given straight to the newsroom- saves time and money 

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news is influenced by journalists values and ideas

they learn to follow certain rules- they believe this is what the audience want to hear- 'news values'

  • agenda setting- news only becomes news when journalists and editors say it is news, journalists choose which angle they shold report from which effects the way in which people interpret the news
  • gate keeping- editor decides which stories to print and which not to. open and closes the gate for different stories 
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