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Chapter 8. In the 1950s and 60s ‘message’ movies appeared on the screen (e.g. Rebel without a Cause; The Pawnbroker; On the Waterfront) These were dark,

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 8. In the 1950s and 60s ‘message’ movies appeared on the screen (e.g. Rebel without a Cause; The Pawnbroker; On the Waterfront) These were dark,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 8

2 In the 1950s and 60s ‘message’ movies appeared on the screen (e.g. Rebel without a Cause; The Pawnbroker; On the Waterfront) These were dark, brooding films emphasizing the poverty of the working class, one’s self respect, etc. These were post WWII problems and the reconstruction of society in the US and Europe

3 At the heart of the theories in this chapter is the concept of culture Culture is the learned behavior of members of a given social group It was Joshua Meyerowitz who claimed tht we were moving from locally based cultures to a media-based global cultural environment…his key term was “no sense of place”

4 Since newer technologies (iPods, Internet, cell phones) are personal media that are inherently biased toward individualism, the role of media has become benign? Should we worry about 1984 or Brave New World or Fahrenheit 451 where the media take over our individualism?

5 Culture in media research Cultural studies focus on use of media to create forms of culture that structure everyday life –Microscopic theories focus on how individuals and groups use media to create and foster forms of culture the structure everyday life –Macroscopic structural theories focus on how media institutions are structured in capitalist economics These theories focus attention on the way social elites sometimes use media to propagate hegemonic (dominant) culture as a means of maintaining their dominant position in the social order They also contend that media are used to create and market seemingly apolitical cultural commodities that serve to earn profits for those elites (political economy)

6 Critical theories Theories that openly espouse certain values and using these values to evaluate and criticize the status quo, providing alternative ways of interpreting the social role of mass media A common theme in critical theories is that content production is so constrained that it inevitably reinforces the status quo and undermines useful efforts to effect constructive social change In contrast to empirical methods used in postpositivist paradigm, researchers in critical research use qualitative methods –Methods that highlight essential differences or distinctive qualities in phenomena

7 Marxist theory His theory argued that the hierarchal class system is at the root of all social problems and must be ended by a revolution of the common person or proletariat Base or substructure of society. For Marx, this was the means of production (workers, farmers, plants) The superstructure was society’s culture (the elites freely manipulated to mislead the average person and encourage them to act against their own interests The ideology was refer to the forms of culture Marx believed that an ideology operated much like a drug putting society under its influence

8 Neo-Marxism Neo-Marxists focus on the superstructure and assume that useful change can be achieved through ideological battles rather than through revolution

9 Textual analysis and criticism High culture is seen as a set of cultural artifacts including art, literature, and poetry that humanists judge to have highest value Humanists’ long term goal was to preserve and gradually raise the level of culture and enable even more people to become humane and civilized Somewhat like movie critics evaluating good movies from bad

10 The Frankfurt School This was a group of scholars at the University of Frankfurt who were neo-Marxists and worked together at the beginning of the Nazis era; many of them emigrated to US The major scholars included Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno The Frankfurt School promoted high culture and denigrated mass culture (movies, pulp fiction) They believed that t The mass media that high culture and folk culture into commodities sold for profit Horkheimer, eg., saw that as the Nazis replaced high culture with their pseudo folk culture, they discredited both the high culture and many of the Jews associated with it Thus, culture was seen as a commodity to be sold and not as ideal works of art

11 Neo-Marxist Theory in Britain In the 1960s and 70s the British cultural studies and the political economy schools developed The cultural studies attempted to trace historic elite domination over culture, to criticize the social consequences of this domination and demonstrate how it continues to be exercised over specific minority groups Rather than looking at elite cultural artifacts, the school studied “lived culture” of minorities and the way media were used by these groups (an inductive approach)

12 Raymond Williams was a dominant early theorist as was Stuart Hall Williams argued that mass media post a threat to worthwhile cultural development In contrast to most humanists of his time, Williams rejected the literary canon as a standard and the traditional notions of high culture There had to be significant reform away from high culture and popular mass media

13 Hall believed that the mass medial, in liberal democracies, can best be understood as a pluralistic public forum in which various forces struggle to shape popular notions about social existance In this new forum, Hall did not argue that elites can maintain complete control over this forum. Popular culture is the ground on which the transformations are worked Some cultural theorists advocate that a person can’t be a good social theorist unless he or she is personally committed to bringing about change Thus the strength and weakness of the British cultural studies school was the use of radical movements

14 Political economic theory Political economy theorists study elite control of economic institutions such as banks, stock markets and then try to show how this control affects many other social institutions including the mass media Herbert Schiller suggested that corporate influence pervades nearly every aspect of society from simple things like our diet, the clothes we wear to who we elect for president

15 Research on popular culture in the US By the 1970s there were enough scholars examining culture that scholarly journals followed (e.g. Journal of Popular Culture) Unlike British critical theorists, most American scholars in the area have no links to social movements They focus on television and now new media and do not have the pessimistic view held by Williams Programs today can appeal to different audiences through “layering” –Fans of the Sopranos or The Simpsons can watch the same episode over and over to probe its meaning

16 Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis The central notion in McLuhan’s theories is that changes in communication technology inevitably produce profound changes in both culture and social order –E.g. the act of reading engages different senses than watching a movie in a theater –The impact of this on how the messages are interpreted are significant –Technology extends the human being

17 Bias of communication Harold Innis believed that communication technology makes centralization of power inevitable. He argued that the early empires of Egypt Greece and Rome were based on elite control of the written word He contrasted these empires with earlier social orders dependent on the spoken word With paper and pen, small centrally located elites were able to gain control over and govern vast regions- thus new communication technology allowed for the development of empires He believed that there was an inherent “bias” of communication towards centralization People and the resources of outlying regions were referred to as the “periphery” and exploited to serve the interests of the elites at the center –-e.g. small village and large city

18 The medium is the message New forms of media transform our experience of ourselves and our society, and this influence is ultimately more important than the content of specific messages Thus, it is the fact that you’re reading a book that is more important than the words in the book Different media stimulate or extend different human senses and this is more important than content

19 Global village A new form of social organization would emerge as instantaneous electronic media ties the world into one great social, political, and cultural system Media also extend our senses

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