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Media Sociology Essay

2099 words - 9 pages

1. Stereotypes, narratives, ideologies and discourses are devices that, in different ways according to different theorists, fortify media power. Critically analyse how these devices work, according to various theorists, and reflect upon which best explains communicative power.

The social construction of reality is mediated through the communicative powers of stereotypes, narratives, ideologies and discourses and the media is extremely powerful in communicating messages with these devices. It will be argued that discourses are the most powerful communicating device used by the media in the postindustrial era today. Furthermore as per Croteau & Hoynes (2014, p. 9), the analysis will ...view middle of the document...

Ideological hegemony’s domination is quite subtle and relies on common sense assumption on how social life is arranged in any given society. ‘Common sense is the way we describe things that everybody knows, or at least should know, because such knowledge represents deeply held cultural beliefs’ (Croteau & Hoynes 2014, p. 159). Gramsci also devised the notion of civil society that is private and where the dominant hegemony rules while political society, which is state governed involves direct intervention by the government. Convincing people in the private, civil society/sphere involves cultural domination in civil institutions such as the media, educational and religious schools. Mass media institutions such as television, magazine, newspaper publications, films and Internet news and entertainment websites legitimize the discourse of the dominant hegemony. Popular culture that is shown on television and film industry for example, project consistent images of society and encourages absorption of this dominant ideology thinking.
Narratives are stories and are part of the cultural processes of all societies. Related to this is the concept of narrative structure, which consists of a beginning, middle and an ending (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler 2008, p. 259). Todorov (1975 cited in O’Shaughnessy et al. 2008, p. 261) demonstrated that all narratives are movements between two equilibriums, from a stable situation to disequilibrium and disruption to resolution whereby equilibrium is reached again but this is structurally different to the former equilibrium. The narratives result in questions being raised, which require resolution so that a formal structure exists even if the outcome is negative. For example in all movies such as Legally Blonde, The Hurricane, Tracks, the narrative draws in the audience/viewer and it is eventually resolved. The resolution obviously raises new questions or problems. Even in newspapers the narratives draw in the reader and through text explain the situation succinctly but then once the issue, which is under examination, is resolved, further questions arise. This shows that society is in a constant state of flux and that there are innumerable narratives that become resolved and yet raise new questions.
In Representations: Cultural representations and signifying practices, Hall (1997, p. 258) defines stereotypes in three ways, the first being that it acquires the ‘few simple, vivid, memorable, easily grasped and widely recognised characteristics about a person, reduce everything about the person to those traits, exaggerate and simplify them, and fix them without change or development to eternity.… So the first point is – stereotyping reduces, essentialises, naturalizes and fixes difference.’ An example would be that the media portrays young as being foolhardy and irresponsible when most are not at all as well as Aborigines always being intoxicated and living on benefits.
‘Secondly, stereotyping deploys a...

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