Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Media Theories

1- Marxist approach:

The Marxist view is referred to in a variety of terms. Fairly common ones are the terms 'critical' and 'radical'. In Britain and Europe, Marxist approaches to the mass media and, more generally, to culture as a whole ('cultural studies') were dominant from the mid '60s to the mid 80s (approximately). Although less dominant now, Marxism still colors much media research.

The main source of the left-wing critique of mass culture is the Frankfort school. The c of this School exritical theorists amined the industrialization of mass-produced culture and examined the economic imperatives behind what they dubbed the 'culture industries'. The masses, the audience, are considered being ‘dumped’ by the banality of the media. Their ability to function efficiently as citizens in a democratic state is replaced by ceaseless consumption of culture and products.

The role of mass media:

For instrumental Marxists, the role of the mass media in Capitalist society is that of ensuring that the views and interests of a ruling class are presented to the rest of the population in such a way as to ensure that people accept as normal and right the inequalities inherent in Capitalist societies. The main function of the mass media, therefore, is one of social control; that is, the attempt to control the behaviour of other classes in society. This is achieved through such means as:

a. Denying access to competing views about the nature of the social world.

b. Presenting a picture of social life that is invariably favourable to the interests of a ruling class.

c. Directly influencing the way in which other classes receive information about the social world.

d. Providing entertainments and diversions that stop people thinking about the ways in which they are exploited and oppressed. This includes the use of scapegoating techniques (for example, "normal people" as opposed to "travellers") designed to create divisions within and between social classes, ethnic groups, genders and the like and so deflect any possible criticism away from a ruling class.

2-Cultivation Theory:

Cultivation theory was an approach developed by Professor George Gerbner, dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cultivation theory in its most basic form, suggests that television is responsible for shaping, or ‘cultivating’ viewers’ conceptions of social reality. The combined effect of massive television exposure by viewers over time subtly shapes the perception of social reality for individuals and, ultimately, for our culture as a whole. Gerbner argues that the mass media cultivate attitudes and values which are already present in a culture: the media maintain and propagate these values amongst members of a culture, thus binding it together. He has argued that television tends to cultivate middle-of-the- road political perspectives. Gerbner called this effect ‘mainstreaming’. Cultivation theorists distinguish between ‘first order’ effects (general beliefs about the everyday world, such as about the prevalence of violence) and ‘second order’ effects (specific attitudes, such as to law and order or to personal safety). There is also a distinction between two groups of television viewers: the heavy viewers and the light viewers. The focus is on ‘heavy viewers’. People who watch a lot of television are likely to be more influenced by the way in which the world is framed by television programs than are individuals who watch less, especially regarding topics of which the viewer has little first-hand experience. Light viewers may have more sources of information than heavy viewers. ‘Resonance’ describes the intensified effect on the audience when what people see on television is what they have experienced in life. This double dose of the televised message tends to amplify the cultivation effect.

3-Functionalist approach:

For Functionalists, the relationship between ownership and control of the media centers on the importance of there being a range of views on offer through newspapers, magazines, television and so forth. In this respect, social stability is considered to be best-preserved by there being a reasonably wide range of different media from which people can choose.

Specifically, ownership and control is seen as being separated. The function of owners (individuals or multiple shareholders) is an economic one, whilst the function of management (the controllers of media output) is one of ensuring the content of the media appeals to as wide a range of people as possible. Thus, highly popular publications (for example, daily newspapers selling millions of copies) sit alongside more-specialist publications (those that cater for minority tastes). In a democratic society the consumer will determine the success or failure of an enterprise; the content of the media, in this respect, is seen to be largely consumer-driven. If people do not like what is being offered they can refuse to buy a publication or they can seek-out publications that do offer them what they require. Since the media are an economic enterprise dealing with cultural values there is invariably a tension between making profits (where the medium is privately owned) and highlighting moral issues. The fact that newspapers, for example, may risk alienating some parts of their readership by supporting unpopular cultural issues is evidence of the multi- functional role of the media. Given the emphasis upon the cultural role of the media it is hardly surprising, for Functionalists, that the most popular forms of media should be broadly conservative and supportive of the status quo, since this is one of their main functions.

4-Uses and Gratifications Theory:

Uses and gratifications approach is an influential tradition in media research. The original conception of the approach was based on the research for explaining the great appeal of certain media contents. The core question of such research is: Why do people use media and what do they use them for? .There exists a basic idea in this approach: audience members know media content, and which media they can use to meet their needs.

Uses and gratifications theory takes a more humanistic approach to looking at media use. Blumler and Katz believe that there is not merely one way that the populace uses media. Instead, they believe there are as many reasons for using the media, as there are media users. According to the theory, media consumers have a free will to decide how they will use the media and how it will effect them. Blumler and Katz values are clearly seen by the fact that they believe that media consumers can choose the influence media has on them as well as the idea that users choose media alternatives merely as a means to an end. Uses and gratification is the optimist’s view of the media. The theory takes out the possibility that the media can have an unconscious influence over our lives and how we view the world. The idea that we simply use the media to satisfy a given need does not seem to fully recognize the power of the media in today’s society.

5-Audience studies:

The printed medium (books, newspapers, ec) enables the end audience to use their own imagination and fill in the blanks for themselves. This gives every audience member a unique and original experience based on the limits of their own intellect and application of it in the areas of creativity. This can however leads to them feeling disappointed when viewing the same basic story in another medium. When a book is transposed onto the cinema, the audience members are then finding themselves in the position of having to accept the film director’s interpretation of it. The Director, Producer and Script Writer now have control of the project, which in turn, affects how the characters look, the backdrops/settings and locations used. This is also furthered by the choice of lighting and moods portrayed by incidental music and so forth. A screen adaptation of a book or short story can change so much that it is sometimes almost unrecognizable from the original printed version from whence it was derived.


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