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Cultural Studies

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  1. Cultural Studies of Stuart Hall

  2. Cultural Studies vs. Media Studies • Believes that mass media helps those in power to maintain dominance. • Believes that media exploits the poor and powerless. • Most of us are unaware of our idealogies and their impacts on our lives. • Hall defines ideologies as the mental frameworks which different classes and social groups deploy to make sense of the way society works.

  3. Hall’s View of Mass Com Research • Research serves the myth of democratic pluralism • Society is held together by common norms • Equal opportunity • Respect of diversity • Individual rights

  4. Marxist Influence • Hall uses the term, hegemony to describe society’s dominance of “haves” over its “have-nots.” • Hall doesn’t subscribe to strict economic determinism, but thinks that it’s an over-simplification. • Believes that media hegemony is not a conscious plot.

  5. Making Meaning Through Discourse • Hall states the primary function of discourse is to make meaning. • Words and other signs contain no instrinsic meaning. • “Words don’t mean; people mean.” • Hall’s question: Where do people get their meanings? • They learn what signs mean through communication and culture. (Griffin, 2012, p. 346-7)

  6. Miss Representation • http://www.oprah.com/own-doc-club/Miss-Representation-Trailer • Barbie empowering girls commercial.

  7. Post-9/11 Media • Why do some people in other countries hate Americans? • Interpretations of television, movies, and music as a way of life in America. • Conversation of Peter Jennings and Ted Koppel on the night of 9/11. • Criticism of Bush by media. • Short-lived, followed by apologies. • Bush asking Americans to go out and support the American economy with big ticket-item purchases.

  8. Reality TV • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. • Luke Winslow, business communication professor at University of Texas. • Morality lessons. • Supports the “American Dream” myth. • “… a primary goal of ideological scholarship is to bring comfort to the afflicted and afflict the comfortable by questioning taken-for-granted assumptions…” (Winslow, 2010, p. 286).

  9. Critique • Hall, a lead figure in cultural studies is criticized for his lack of attention to gender issues. • Criticized for not offering solutions to problems that he identifies. • Praised for bringing focus on power when studying meaning.

  10. Uses and Gratifications Elihu Katz

  11. Use of Media • The affect of media on people may depend on their purposes for using such media. • People use media for different reasons. • Uniform-effects model (aka hypodermic needle or silver bullet models). • Everyone in an audience is affected by/interprets a message in the same way. • Straight-line effect of media. • Affect on behavior is predicted by media content and not backgrounds of individuals who view it.

  12. Can People Accurately Report their Media Use & Motivation? • Data is collected by asking questions and recording answers. • Can people accurately report their reasons for using media? • Motivation

  13. Typology of Uses & Gratifications • Passing time. • Companionship. • Escape. • Enjoyment. • Social interaction. • Relaxation. • Information. • Excitement.

  14. Critique • Criticism: Mainly descriptive rather than a predictive and explanative theory. • Criticism: If people can’t accurately report their reasons for using media, then the theory isn’t testable. • Future studies should focus on more testable predictions. • Benefit: May increase reflective thought on your own media use. • Possibly leading to choices that are more satisfying in the long run.

  15. References • Winslow, Luke (2010). “Comforting the Comfortable: Extreme Makeover Home Edition’s Idealogical Conquest,” Critical Studies in Media Communication, v27, p. 269).