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SOCIOLOGY Richard T. Schaefer

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  1. SOCIOLOGYRichard T. Schaefer 7 The Mass Media

  2. 7. The Mass Media • Sociological Perspectives of the Media • The Audience • The Media Industry • Social Policy and Mass Media

  3. Sociological Perspectives of the Media • Functionalist View • The media: • Socialize us • Enforce social norms • Confer status • Promote consumption • Keep us informed about our environment • May act as a narcotic

  4. Sociological Perspectives of the Media • Functionalist View • Agent of Socialization • Media increases social cohesion by presenting common view of culture • Provide collective experience for members of a society • Socializing effects can promote religious as well as patriotic exchanges, uniting believers around the world • Socializing effect of media means programming can easily become controversial

  5. Sociological Perspectives of the Media • Functionalist View • Enforcer of Social Norms • Media reaffirm proper behavior by showing what happens to people who violate societal expectations • Conferral of Status • Singles out one from thousands of other similarly placed issues or people to become significant

  6. Sociological Perspectives of the Media • Functionalist View • Promotion of Consumption • Media advertising • Supports economy • Provides information • Underwrites cost of media

  7. Sociological Perspectives of the Media Figure 7-1. Number of Hours per Week Spent with Media,1997—2008 (projected) Source: Veronis Suhler Stevenson LLC 2003:166-167 for 1997; 2004:184-185 for all other data

  8. Sociological Perspectives of the Media Table 7-1. Status Conferred by Magazines

  9. Sociological Perspectives of the Media • Functionalist View • Surveillance of the Social Environment • Surveillance Function: collection and distribution of information concerning events in the social environment • Dysfunction: The Narcotizing Effect • Narcotizing Dysfunction: phenomenon in which the media provide such massive amounts of information that audience becomes numb and fails to act on the information

  10. Sociological Perspectives of the Media • Conflict View • Gatekeeping: how material must travel through a series of checkpoints before reaching the public • Conflict theorists emphasize that the media reflect and even exacerbate many of the divisions of our society and world, including: • Gender • Race • Ethnicity • Social class

  11. Sociological Perspectives of the Media • Conflict View • Dominant Ideology: Constructing Reality • Dominant Ideology: set of cultural beliefs and practices that help to maintain powerful social, economic, and political interests • Mass media serve to maintain the privileges of certain groups • Stereotypes: unreliable generalization about all members of a group that do not recognize individual differences within the group

  12. Sociological Perspectives of the Media • Conflict View • Dominant Ideology: Whose Culture? • Globalization projects the dominating reach of the U.S. media into the rest of the world • Media cultural exports undermine the distinctive traditions and art forms of other societies and encourage their cultural and economic dependence on the U.S. Nations that feel a loss of identity may try to defend against the cultural invasion

  13. Sociological Perspectives of the Media • Feminist View • Feminists share conflict theorists’ view that the mass media stereotype and misrepresent social reality • Women underrepresented • Perpetuate stereotypical views of gender • Emphasize traditional sex roles and normalize violence against women

  14. Sociological Perspectives of the Media • Interactionist View • Interactionists especially interested in shared understandings of everyday behavior • Examine media on micro level to see how they shape day-to-day social behavior • Scholars increasingly point to mass media as source of major daily activity

  15. Sociological Perspectives of the Media Figure 7-2. The Internet Explosion Source: National Geographic 2005:21

  16. Sociological Perspectives of the Media Table 7-2. Sociological Perspectives on the Mass Media

  17. The Audience • Who Is In the Audience? • Mass media distinguished from other social institutions by necessary presence of audience • Identifiable, finite group or a much larger, undefined group

  18. The Audience • The Segmented Audience • Increasingly, media market themselves to a particular audience • The role of audience members as opinion leaders intrigues social researchers Opinionleader: someone who, through day-to-day personal contacts and communication, influences opinions and decisions of others

  19. The Audience • Audience Behavior • Response often influenced by social characteristics: • Occupation • Race • Education • Income

  20. The Media Industry • Media Concentration • Handful of multi-national corporations dominate publishing, broadcasting, and film industries • The Media’s Global Reach • Mass media have begun to create global village in terms of communication • Internet key to creating truly global network

  21. The Media Industry Figure 7-3. Media Penetration in Selected Countries Source: Bureau of the Census 2004a:870

  22. Social Policy and Mass Media • Media Violence • The Issue • What effect does movie and TV violence have on audiences? • Does violence in the media lead people, especially youth, to become more violent?

  23. Social Policy and Mass Media • Media Violence • The Setting • We spend great deal of time with the media • Does watching hours of mass media with violent images cause one to behave differently? • Some studies linked exposure to media violence to subsequent aggressive behavior It is important to recognize that other factors besides the media are also related to aggressive behavior.

  24. Social Policy and Mass Media • Media Violence • Sociological Insights • If function of media is to entertain, socialize, and enforce social norms, can violence be part of that message? • Even if viewer does not necessarily become more violent from watching violent images, there could be desensitization

  25. Conflict and feminist theorists are troubled that victims depicted in violent imagery are often: Women Children Poor Racial minorities Citizens of foreign countries Physically disabled Social Policy and Mass Media • Media Violence • Sociological Insights

  26. Social Policy and Mass Media • Media Violence • Sociological Insights • Interactionists especially interested in finding out if violence in media may then become script for real-life behavior

  27. Social Policy and Mass Media • Media Violence • Policy Initiatives • Policymakers responded to links between violence depicted in media and real life aggression: • Public statements of support for family-oriented, less-violent media content Reluctance to pass laws regarded as censorship

  28. Social Policy and Mass Media Figure 7-4. Violence on Prime-Time Television, 1998—2002 Source: Parents Television Council 2003