Chapter 6 Social Inequality and Media Representation Intro

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Chapter 6 Social Inequality and Media Representation


  • The examination of media content traditionally has been the most common type of media analysis. This chapter focuses on the issue of social inequality and media representation. How do media representations compare to the external 'real' world?

  • Creators of media content often reproduce the inequalities that exist in society based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation. Historically, media has been controlled by white upper and middle class men. This is why the inequalities in the social world have affected organization of the media industry.

(* In the summary of the chapter, exercises from the course guide are answered, depending on which part of the chapter they are relevant to.. they're in roman numerals except 4,7,8 [those R assignments])
Comparing Media Content and the “Real” World


This question raises several issues:

  1. REPRESENTATION: the way which describes the process of selecting certain aspects of reality and including them in the media, thus representing what is needed for the certain genre of media.

  2. Relation between representation and ideology?

- Representation: selecting certain aspects/ highlighting-neglecting unneeded aspects. In Marxists' view, believing that IDEOLOGY justifies the actions of those in power by distorting and misrepresenting reality. → system of meaning that helps define & explain the world and makes value judgments about the world. For ideological analysis, the key is the fit between the images and words in a specific media text and ways of thinking about, even defining cultural issues.

  1. Describe and explain four issues that are raised when we discuss media representations and the “real” world.

  1. The literature in media and cultural studies reminds us that representations are not reality, even if audiences are tempted to judge them as such. These representations are the result of selection: certain aspects of reality are highlighted / others neglected.

  2. Media do not usually try to reflect the “real” world. Ex. A science fiction film. It does not try to represent contemporary lifestyle. However, this is what makes it attractive to the audience. + These depictions, however, can often teach us something about society. Ex. 1960-s Star Trek kiss between Kirk and Uhuru = 1st interracial kiss on U.S. TV. It made a statement about race relations in contemporary America. Later, a woman played the captain of Voyager. Again, it commented on social conditions at the time.

  3. Concerns the word real. Generally, it is agreeable that no representation of reality can ever be totally true → it must frame an issue and choose to include/exclude certain components of reality.

- However, some social facts can be used as a measure of reality. Ex: age distribution: 21% of viewers are teenagers → if in a show, there were 60%, it's accurate to say that there is 3x as many. This is only because we can accurately measure age distribution.

- 1 more point raised: is media content more liberal than the “real world”? → must be careful about claims of “bias” in the media. However, it is generally subjective.

  1. The statement that media should reflect society. This statement is not agreed on. → for many people, the media is a way to escape everyday life. How “real” media products are is irrelevant to many people. It's not necessary to believe that the media should accurately reflect society in order to compare media representations in the social world.

The significance of Content

  • Many researchers study media content to make inferences about other social processes → to asses significance of that content.

  • 5 ways in which researchers asses the significance :

a) Content as reflection of producers:

  • Content reflects the intent of the producers. Ex. Some personnel may have families etc. who inspire them for their stories. → result → disproportionate % of shows feat. Kids. Perhaps, advertisers have interest in sponsoring kid-related shows... this influences producers.

b) Content as Reflection of Audience Preference:

  • Viewers have shown interest in certain kinds of programs. The idea that the producers are only “giving the people what they want” → implies that people want what they get. Researchers move to area of audience research.

c) Content as Reflection of Society in General

  • Media content investigated as a gauge of social norms, values, and the interests of society in general – not just the audience.

d) Content as an Influence on Audiences

  • Researchers sometimes examine media content for potential effects on audiences. The emphasis: not on content as a reflection of the production process, but rather on content as a social influence on audiences.

e) Content as Self-Enclosed Text

  • Addresses media content on its own terms. Makes no attempt to link content to anything, but examines the media as a self-enclosed text whose meaning is to be “decoded”. Researchers sometimes combine this approach w/ study of production & audience reception. Often difficult or impossible to assess the validity of the claims of such analysis → no standard method exists. Useful 4 concerns w/ text, language, grammar, vocabulary of image production.

Race and Media Content: Inclusion, Roles, and Control

  • Race is a socially constructed concept whose meaning has evolved over time.

  1. Since race is a cultural or ideological construct: The concept of “race” has been evolving over time. The concept of race has changed trough history. It is an interesting term to study, as content analysts examine how media messages treat the issue of race.

- 3 crucial issues of racial portrayal in the media:

1. inclusion (do the media include portrayals of dif. Racial groups?, 2. media roles: when included, what roles do the radial groups take on?(history), 3. control of production- do ppl from dif. Racial groups have control over production?

  • Racial discrimination and the roles of minority representatives are all mainly influenced on history. As society (primarily U.S.) gave more rights and acceptance to minorities, the appearance of minorities in the media grew.

* Robert Entman (1992) illustrated the dynamics of contemporary images of race (study of local Chicago news coverage of blacks and whites)

  • He distinguishes between 2 forms of racism:

traditional racism: open bigotry usually based on beliefs about biological inferiority of blacks.

Modern racism: more complex. A compound of hostility, rejection and denial on the part of whites toward the activities and aspirations of black people.- stereotypes now are more subtle, stereotyped thinking is reinforced @ levels likely to remain below conscious awareness.(208)

  • Entman's work is based on content analysis of news programs, not on a study of news audiences. - paradox of representation

* Wilson and Gutierrez (1995): the coverage of minority issues often focused inordinate attention on the more bizarre or unusual elements of minority communities: gangs, illegal immigrants, interracial violence. → result → new stereotype of minorities as 'problem people'

  • Additionally, women have also been frequently discriminated and excluded due to historical facts. Sexual orientation also fits into this category.

Class and the Media

  • Depending on the economic class the media are trying to reach, the content varies. Ex. To reach higher class audiences, media may be filled with ads for expensive products. Ex. Tv shows portray upper class people etc. This is also because upper class people have more money and are a more profitable target for the media.

Chapter 7 – Media Influence and the Political world

Between pages 231 – 239 there is a lot of blabla about the fact that politicians have to be media friendly and they are supposed to be good in acting calm and confident when a camera is pointed at them. There are some examples about multiple politicians that were good or bad in the media. Also a few media-fanatics (like actors and news anchors) that eventually became politicians.

Media effects

The Hypodermic Model
The hypodermic model suggest that media is capable of injecting a message directly into the “bloodstream” of the public. This means that there is a direct and powerful influence on the public and that it is possible for media to directly manipulate a passive and gullible public. This model ignores the preexisting ideas and orientations of the reader.

Mass Society Theory(post-World War 2 years)
At the core of the theory was the argument that the society back then was characterized by growing homogenization of the population and a decline in interpersonal and group relations. The society theory argues that mass media played a crucial role in uniting a disparate and atomized population, which means that the theorists saw the population as fragmentized and that media could reunite them.

The Minimal Effects Model
The minimal effects model suggests that media’s impact on individuals is weak and short lived, this model says media messages act to reinforce existing beliefs, rather than change opinion. People with strong opinions on e.g. politics tend to pay more attention to the news media, but are less likely to change their strong opinions, and vice versa.

“The two step flow of influence” debates about the fact that there is an opinion leader that could influence people in their surroundings by interpersonal contact.

This model pays more attention to the fact that readers are capable of selecting, screening and judging media information (unlike the hypodermic needle model)

Agenda Setting (read this one in the book too! Pages 242 – 244)
Agenda setting is being able to direct people’s attention toward certain issues. (think about the tests they have done on people with the altered news stories, they tend to talk more about the highlighted parts of their news broadcast)

A test has been done on media coverage and agenda issue of the public. There are some correlations between the two, but sometimes the public’s concern preceded the media coverage. So, perhaps agenda setting is most powerful when individuals have no direct contact with an issue and thus are dependent on the media for information. Perception of issues that directly affect an individual’s life may be more resistant to media coverage.

The Gap Between Theory and Popular Perception
The theorists that say that there is very little influence on readers because of media vs. the perception of the public that thinks there is a very big influence on the lives of people because of media. Three reasons why there is a gap;

  1. Most research has looked only at a narrow range of media effects issues. This means that they have only looked at one particular part of the research, so they miss a lot of other information.

  2. Research sometimes mistakenly equated the absence of factual learning from the media with the absence of media influence, in essence ignoring more complex or unintended effects. E.g. a campaign to awake awareness might not make sure people will know everything about the facts the campaign tries to make clear, but it will arise different unintended effects.

  3. Researchers have had great difficulty clearly measuring media effects because media stimuli routinely interact with other social stimuli. Disentangling these influences is difficult.

Media reader interaction
Recent trends in media research have paid attention to how the audience actively uses information between media and reader. Various studies have also shown that media information is but one element that citizens use in developing opinions. While using media information to make sense of public issues, the public also uses interpersonal contact to gain more information. So there is a balance between media power and the creative agency of readers.

Political socialization Theory
Media influence may be especially strong in the early political socialization of adolescents, who are old enough to seriously consider political issues but have not yet fully developed a political orientation. For example high school students say they rely on mass media more than on families, friend or teachers in developing attitudes about current events such as economic or race issues. (Opposite of the two step model of influence)

Cultivation theory
This theory argues that, through its regular and almost realistic use by viewers, television plays a homogenizing role for otherwise heterogeneous populations. They suggest that immersion in television culture produces a “mainstreaming” effect, whereby differences based on cultural, social and political characteristics are muted in heavy viewers of television. The result is that heavy television viewers have quite distorted views of the social and political world.

Lessons from the research
Media messages are negotiated by readers, but these messages can have an impact. Media influence what people think about, and to a lesser extent, how they understand the world. But the most significant effects of media exposure come about after long-term, heavy use. We have to keep in mind that media consumption is often an active processing of information, not just a passice reception of media words and images.

Media and Social Movements

We can think of the relationship between media and social movements as a transaction between two complex systems, both trying to accomplish a particular goal. Movements ask the media to communicate their message to the public, while the media look to movements as one potential source of news.

Movements are obligated to make sure their work is news worthy. They have to pull the attention of the media. Secondly the movements have to make sure the frame fits their purposes, the news have to put them in a good light. So the reporters have to be on their side to make the readers to be on their side.

Because small social movements could not always get in attention of the media, they started to use “alternative” or “independent” media, like underground press and zines, which are small newspapers that were no more than photocopies of the larger nationally distributed newspapers. Eventually more subcultures started to use this format of news expansion.

New Media” and the News
Defining “new” media is difficult, since such list quickly becomes dated, the list also misses the point of these media that converge in a single form of multimedia communication.

Since the early 1980s, political actors have been using new technologies in their attempt to communicate with the public. The internet is now widely used in political campaigns. The 1996 campaign was the first to extensively use the internet to post press releases and position papers online and to quickly respond to developing stories. Among the advantages of internet campaigning is that candidates can control their message, they do not have to rely on reporters anymore to transmit their message to the public. And they are also not constrained by the high cost and limited format of a 30 second campaign commercial.

The future of these new media are being debated, some see great hope for these new technologies, while others see great dangers. For example, these new technologies are making people able to personalize their newspapers, so people have less common ground in the community.

Politics and Entertainment Media

Television and film
Read this part in the book, I am unable to summarize this one properly.

Like television, music is generally a commercial product sold for profit. Mainstream music is about love(if you look at it in a political viewpoint, it might say that the music makers help the status quo of the politics), but there are also songs that express their political wing.

Exchange value: the producers only care about what the cd can be sold for.
Use value: consumers care more about that they enjoy listening to is (what function it serves)
Sign value: consumers add a symbolic meaning to the product.

Music fans often infuse the music they like with meaning. They associate music they cherish with an outlook on life, with friends and lovers, or with important memories in their lives.

Original subcultures like, rap, punk, metal etc were originated as meaningful expressions of values and orientations associated with music. As these styles became more commercialized, they often lsot their original meaning and were reduced to mere commodities.

pp. 257 – 259 talks about the use of music in commercials or about music with a purpose (like Christian music -> biblical inspired political messages). There are many genres in music, like rap, techno, country, pop, rock, blues, jazz, folk etc. Within these genres are also many subcultures, in which we can make no statement about the political message stated in the genre. Like rap music; some rappers have a strong opinion about racism and economic inequalities. Other rappers only talk about sex and hot booty.

Global Media, Global Politics

The cultural Imperialism Thesis
the basic argument of the cultural imperialism thesis was that Western media products introduced into other countries, especially “developing” countries, contributed to a decline in local tradition values and promoted, instead, values associated with capitalism. In addition, ownership and control over media were maintained in U.S. hands, and other nations became more dependent on the U.S. for cultural production.

Evidence suggests that the imperialism thesis fails in two counts. First, researchers questioned the early claims of power effects, pointing out that the media capacities of other nations quickly allowed them to produce their own programming, reducing their reliance on US shows. Also, the public in different countries add their own meaning to the show.

Second, interest shifted away from a focus on television toward a broader, more generalized understanding of the influence of media. Also in music, there are some American artist what have got heavily influenced by other cultures.

This chapter explores the ways audiences actively .interpret mass media
hapter 8: Active Audiences and the Construction of Meaning


‘Media messages matter’ is something that virtually all observers now accept. Media messages are central to our everyday lives.

We take a different view on audiences, namely that audiences are active readers rather than passive recipients. The meaning of media texts are something constructed by the active audience, it’s not something that is prefabricated by media producers.

 2 good reasons for conceptualizing the audience in this way:
- fits with our own experiences as media consumers and as members of various audiences.
- a large body of recent research demonstrates that media audiences are active interpreters of meaning.
* The Active Audience *
Contrary to the Hypodermic Needle Model is the Active Audience Theory in which people are not nearly as stupid, gullible or easy to dominate as the Hypodermic Needle Model suggests.

There are 3 basic ways in which media audiences have been seen as active:

1. through individual interpretation of media products
2. through collective interpretation of media

3. through collective political action

  • 1. Interpretation

The meanings of media messages are not fixed; they are constructed by audience members

 routine acts of interpretation.

Audiences may not always construct the meaning intended by the producer, nor will all audience members construct the same meaning form the same media text.

  • 2. The Social Context of Interpretation

The audiences are active i/t sense that they interpret media messages socially, we engage with media in social settings.

( example: Watch television with your family: partake of media in groups
example: We talk with friends/roommates about the song we just downloaded: media use is initially an individual activity but later becomes part of our social relationships)

  • 3. Collective Action

Audiences can engage in collective action to try to change media texts.

( example: public protest, boycotts, publicity campaigns, mass letter writing)

* Meanings: Agency and Structure*

If audiences are active interpreters of media and if different audiences have different backgrounds, social networks, and defining experiences, then it is likely that there will be multiple interpretations of the same media text.

  • Agency and Polysemy

Polysemy describes the notion of multiple meanings in media texts media are said to be polysemic.

Media texts do have some degree of “openness” in their very structure, making widely divergent readings possible –even though difficult.

 this openness is a highly desirable feature for mass-market media. The most succesfull text will have components that appeal to different audiences
(example: The Cosby Show – both blacks and whites could enjoy the program even though they interpret it in very different ways.)

  • Structure and Interpretive Constraint

We have to understand both the role of agency –audiences constructing meaning - and the role of structure – the patterns of interpretation and social location that shape them.

 in most cases one interpretation is likely to be most common and fit with the underlying values of the culture (“ preferred reading”)

* Decoding Media and Social Position *
Stuart Hall’s (1992 ) ‘ encoding/decoding ‘ model

Decoding : the process whereby audiences use their implicit knowledge of both medium specific and broader cultural codes to interpret the meaning of media text.

medium-specific codes knowledge: that we know that if we watch a television show there will be commercial breaks and knowing the purpose of the commercial breaks and the ad’s shown.
cultural codes knowledge: the meaning of media texts depends, to a great degree, on the taken-for-granted. News stories about president day don’t have to explain why the president is important, it’s being taken for granted that we know why he is important.

According to Stuart Hall’s model, producers create media texts in ways that encode a preferred/dominant meaning – the interpretation that will most likely follow from a decoding based on the codes of the medium and the dominant assumptions that underpin our social life.

  • Class

Social class, Morley argues, does not determine how people interpret media messages. Meaning is class stratified but is not constant or entirely predictable.

Social class plays a role in providing us with cultural ‘tools’ for decoding.

Among these cultural tools are what we call discursive resources : language, concepts and assumptions associated with a particular sub culture or political perspective.

Our social position provides us with differential access to an array of cultural tools, which we use to construct meaning in more or less patterned ways.

  • Gender, Class, and Television

Press’s ( 1991) study : Woman Watching Television

Result: middle-class women’s interpretation of televised images of woman are part of their own definitions of womanhood, whereas working-class women show tendency to resist these interpretations.
The point: class pays a central role in how audiences make sense of television images.

  • Race, News, and Meaning Making

Hunt (1997)examined the way differently “raced” groups interpreted t.v. news coverage.

Result: significant racial differences in how viewers interpreted the news. This racial difference in decoding media was, in large part, the result of differences in social networks and the sense of group solidarity among the different groups.

The point: such “raced ways of seeing” both shape and are constituted by the social process of decoding.

  • International Readings of American Television

 see slides of lecture 6 : The Dallas example

* The Social Context of Media Use *
When and where do people use media?

  • Watching Television With the Family

Morley’s (1986) Family Television research explores the domestic context of viewing television and shows how television use is embedded within the social relations of the household.

Domestic relations help shape what we watch, how we watch, and what meanings we assign to the programs. Since men have a tendency to control the program selection process, television is a potential site for domestic power struggle.

Our interpretations of television programs are connected to our engagement with the program.

Interaction with media and discussions about media products are important parts of the process of meaning making  interpretive community.

* Active Audiences and Interpretive “Resistance” *

We cannot treat the media as some simple vehicle of brainwashing people. This realization has led many scholars to investigate the possibility that some audiences interpret media texts in an “oppositional” way or engage in a kind of interpretive “resistance”.

These claims of interpretive resistance employ an image of audiences as “semiological guerillas”, fighting a daily war against the symbolic power of the media industry.

* The Pleasure of Media *

We spend a large portion of our lives having fun and seeking pleasure from the media.

  • Pleasure and Fantasy

Media audiences can incorporate media texts into complex fantasies that can make daily life much more enjoyable.

  • Celebrity Games

Why do so many of us pay attention to the details of the lives of actors, musicians ect?

For some, the fun of celebrity comes from the game of gossip. For others it’s detecting the truth about celebrities.

  • Pleasure and Resistance

The pleasure of media use comes precisely from interpretive engagement with media texts; media are fun because we actively participate in the making of meaning, not because we simply turn off our brains.


Although audiences are active, their activity is still subject to a variety of structural constraints. The cultural tills that audiences bring to the interpretation of media are not uniform; different people from different social locations will not have the same resources at their command. Audiences have interpretive agency and constraints of social structure.

Answers Q’s Chapter 8 from the Course Guide:

1. Audiences are active readers rather than passive recipients. The meaning of media texts are something constructed by the active audience, it’s not something that is prefabricated by media producers.

2. X

3. X.
4. Polysemy describes the notion of multiple meanings in media texts media are said to be polysemic.

5. A newspaper can have one relatively consistent interpretation that is likely to be the dominant interpretation of the news but there are lots of bits and pieces that can be interpreted in different ways.
6. Reading against the grain = oppositional reading (?? I don’t know)
7. Encoding is the media message as it is constructed by the media producers
Decoding is the way that message is interpreted by audiences.
8. Elements of structure: social location and cultural values

9. ( from slides) A group of statements which provide a language for talking about - a way of representing the knowledge about - a particular topic at a particular historical

moment….Discourse is about the production of knowledge through language. But…since all social practices entail meaning, and meanings shape and influence what we do - our conduct - all practices have a discursive aspect." (Hall, 1992: 291)

10. discursive resources : language, concepts and assumptions associated with a particular sub culture or political perspective.

11. Gender, race and class are important for the interpretation of media messages because they help to shape our interpretations. Different people from different social locations will not have the same resources at their command, so this will lead to different interpretations of media messages.

12. Our interpretations of television programs are connected to our engagement with the program. The way we tune in to the program, if it’s to get information or to relax will help shape the meaning we attach to different programs.

Chapter 9: Media technologies and social change p299 – p332
Main focus: the medium itself. “Technology as a driving force of social change”
An important characteristic of media technology is that we generally don’t know how technology is made, how it looks on the inside. But we do know how technology works, it’s usable for anyone with access to it, especially ‘digital natives’.

Differing technology in media
All media technologies communicate their messages differently.
A magazine is able to provide images, textual feedback and additional information but no sound. Radio is able to provide sound and additional information, but no images, Internet can do all (see table on p301), thanks to the convergence of media (Melting of different media technologies, internet and television = digital television).
This proves that technology does matter in media in terms of changing media.

Social importance of technology in media: changing communication
Media technologies are a structural constraint, they enable and limit human action.
The internet has narrowed the gap between personal communication and mass communication. We can see how this technology affects the gap by reminding ourselves of some defining characteristics of mass media:
* One-to-many communication; one sender and multiple receivers
* Anonymous receivers; the sender is known to the receivers, but the receivers are not known
to the sender
* One-way-communication; the receivers cannot give any feedback to the sender
Internet has changed all this. It blurs individual- and mass audiences (email versus websites), the receivers become less anonymous because of registration, communication becomes many-to-many because anybody can produce online media and media is no longer one-way because of guestbooks, forums etc.
So sociologically, internet (technology) has shaped the way we interact and communicate.

Social importance of technology in media: change of time and space
Time and physical distance become less important with new media technologies. All sorts of media are able to do live broadcasts of many issues across the globe. You don’t have to be close to the event anymore to know (live concert broadcasts for example).
Within this subject there’s also the phenomenon of the Virtual Community (Rheingold and Turkle). People can be part of a community without being involved physically, communities are not geographically based anymore. This stretches all the way to technical jobs: people don’t have to be in an office anymore to do their job. This makes it seem as if technology determines the social world.
Also related to this is Meyrowitz’ theory of moving social barriers. Television and internet makes children able to know about adult issues.

Technological determinism
An approach that identifies technology, or technological advantages, as the central cause of social change. Claude Fischer is one of the main figures. He characterizes this determinism as “billiard ball-approaches”; technology as an external force causing things to happen in social settings, often through a series of intermediary steps.
In this technological determinism approach all technology is structural constraint, there is no room for human agency, because humans are seen as employers of technology. We are used by technology rather than using it. Because of this view, Fischer rather examined and analyzed the user of technology instead of the technology itself to determine its impact.

Marshall McLuhan
Sociologist saying “The medium is the message”, we should examine how media disrupts tradition, because they fragment our senses. Print made sound less important than visuals, whilst TV made sound important again. Internet again incorporates all. Internet makes a global village.
Related to this is Postman’s theory on that what we think is largely determined by what we see in the media. Change in technology = change in thought.

Social construction of media technologies
Media technologies are embedded in ongoing social processes. They are never fixed or fully predictable, because they depend on so many (social) factors. So if we want to understand the social significance, we should pay attention to the social forces that shape them. The use of e.g. radio and television is now easy and taken for granted, but their development was driven by many social forces.
The radio (invented in 1899 by Marconi) was called “Wireless” in the beginning. It was not for broadcasting purposes, but merely an improvement of the telegram, giving bigger corporations a chance to make long distance communication easier, using Morse. Slowly the voice radio was introduced and in 1912 there was a law, “Radio Act”, to make sure pirates couldn’t use the airwaves anymore. When in 1917 America declared war to Germany, the pirates were recruited to broadcast. When in 1922 a big corporate launched an ad for the radio, they made commercials for the music they would be playing (dj’ed by an amateur) and that’s when the radio as we know it got established.
TV grew really fast, immediately used for entertainment purposes. However, its programming had to fit the viewer’s routine and the era’s ideology. It was mainly focused on housewives in the beginning, making a division between lower class and middle class. Slowly it got more and more broad, becoming more mainstream and repetitive.

The internet and the future of interactive media
“Computers have changed the way we lived as much as fire has”. To understand its social significance we also have to keep economic and psychological aspects in mind. Technology is in a tug-of-war with economics & psychology, pulling towards the direction of newfound democracy, participation and diversity since everyone is able to put something online for a lower cost than when using other media, so also media producers prefer internet.
Economy and psychology are pulling more towards spectatorship and uniformity (think of conglomerates, ‘new media’ merging with ‘old media’ companies). Web sites reach a relatively small audience. Also, the audience’s preferences are tempering technology. The audience still uses old media, reading magazines etc rather in paper than online. We use the internet more for entertainment or shopping than for information.

Corporate efforts to control the internet
Portals are a good example of how the internet’s capabilities are getting more commercial. Yahoo started this. They tried to organize the internet through a search engine, but soon enough became commercial by using ads and sponsors and adding email, news, chat etc to their new corporation Yahoo Inc. This was the start for imitators to come with the same concept. All used the audience as a sales product for advertisers, which caused the market to collapse. It becomes more difficult to make your company known to the internet user.
Another way to control the internet is for companies to work together. Amazon books for example, are used by portals in their search results, so they link each other on their sites to get more visitors and buyers.

Beyond technological determinism
The digital media is growing very rapidly. Music downloading, internet access all over and not only from home, etc etc.
However, media technology ultimately may not be the driver of social change, just an acceleration. We must locate the new media in specific social and historical context. We should see technology as human agency, we can use it or ignore it. It can only facilitate certain uses that influence our social role, it will not determine them.


i. How do the technological capabilities of radio affect the use of radio?
You are not able to watch it. In these days, we want to be able to watch things. All media became rather interactive through the internet, but radio did not; you’re not able to reply on the sender’s message easy.

ii. What are the features of traditional media?
They provide only a certain amount of possibilities to show us what is happening, mostly after the event has happened.

iii. How does internet disrupt these features?
Internet contains all of these possibilities. Sound, image, word, all is there. It combines all features in to one medium, which causes the audience not to need different types of media to know about one event.

iv. How are time and space important in media use?
They are less important than before, because we no longer are restricted by them. We don’t need to be there physically or in the same timezone to be aware of events.

v. What is technological determinism?
The idea that technology determines human beings, that we are used by technology instead of using it.

vi. Who said: The medium is the message?

vii. What is a global village? Do we live in one?
The book says it will explain this concept in the final chapter?! But, Global village is probably the idea that everyone is able to know and connect to everyone through new media. We “live” in one, in such manner that we all have access to it and are able to live in it if we fully commit. I personally wouldn’t say we live in one, but just that we have the ability to.
Though maybe after ch10 it will be different? (p308 on top)

viii. How does television challenge our world according to Neil Postman?
The rise of television is the main reason of the decline in seriousness of our public life. He says that in the reader’s era (18th and 19th century) was the era of intellectuals. Societies that rely on printmedia will develop a rational, serious population. TV has changed this, dumbed us down with its entertaining and trivial character.

ix. What is hyper reality?
A reality neither false nor true. Media uses pseudo-events to report. These are images set up to be dramatic. They are not false nor true, they actually happen, but only to produce dramatic images. Appearance is what matters in these images, they have no real-world referents.

x. What is snail mail?
The quickly sent spam emails are the opposite of the slow and expensive snail mail; actual postal mail.

xi. What is the main argument of the The Gutenberg Elegies?
McLuhan wrote the Gutenberg galaxy, in which he focuses on the shift from oral to print society. Elegies writer Birkerts says: The print media is dead, he warns for the digital age.

xii. Go to the internet and find examples of hypertext.
Wikipedia uses hypertexts; the ability of putting links in a text to be able to directly link through to another site.

xiii. What is meant with the phrase on p. 322: change will be evolutionary, not

That technological change happens in babysteps, easy and not in one day.

xiv. Which ways are available to control the internet?
Ads, portals, commercializing, partnership.

xv. What are haves and have-nots?
Technological haves and have-nots is basically the same as digital natives (they ‘have’ it) and digital immigrants (they don’t ‘have’ it, have-not). The new media makes the gap between those two even bigger.

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