Critical analysis of media - University of Kentucky
Critical analysis of media Consensus and controversy in the wake of Marx Figure 4.3 Two opposing models of media power (mixed versions are more likely to be encountered McQuail's Mass CommunicationTheory Marxs analysis of culture
The economic base, the forces and relations of production determine the cultural superstructure of a society Forces and relations are mainly the technology and economic class relations that define an economic system
Slave/owner in an ancient agricultural system Lord/serf in an advanced agricultural system, technology allowing for shared farming Bourgeoisie/proletariat in a capitalist system with the development of mechanization and factory production Marxs approach Marx was most concerned with identifying the laws of social change based on the historical development of
societies technological and economic systems He seems to say that the superstructure represents a fairly mechanical reflection of the power held in the base Some argue that he simply did not have enough time to articulate a more sophisticated relationship Control over the media, for example, allows the powerful to provide a nearly uniform ideological presentation across
the entire society Ideology Mostly imposed from above, with little attention to the actions of the oppressed classes Acceptance is fairly uniform, with the mind another terrain of oppression
Elite ideologists are either members of the bourgeois class or employed by the class Though there are certain forms of conflict within the class, they are resolved when an issue of consequence for interclass relations emerges The outcome of determination For Marx, false consciousness
The false beliefs about their real conditions that workers live under False consciousness forestalls the development of class consciousness, the learned beliefs/knowledge that allow the class member to see from the true perspective of his/her class Class consciousness leads to revolution or revolutionary consciousness as the classes are
forced to recognize the irreconcilable conflict of their positions Class consciousness It is the role of the intelligentsia to lead the working class into class consciousness Only through training and exhortation can
workers break through their false consciousness Inherent contradictions in the working of the base lead to crises, representing opportunities for the development of class consciousness Two trajectories Marxs analyses have generated two major contemporary schools of scholars Political economy
Focus on the structure and its influence on culture Critical cultural studies Focus on the culture/superstructure, its relative independence, internal workings and influence over the base/structure Chapter 4 Figure 4.1 Four types of relation between culture (media content) and society McQuail's Mass CommunicationTheory
Issues for later theorists (neo-Marxists) The nature of false consciousness Antonio Gramsci Hegemony
Subaltern classes take part in their own deception Hegemony partial, conflicted, always in flux Hegemony not a uniform, leaden ideology representing elite interests Natural, common sense Must constantly be won Always in danger of being undermined
Superstructure Althusser outlined a number of Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs) that served to reproduce the conditions of production--that is, the teach workers their place in the world and reproduce them as a factor in production Political economy
Media are large corporations themselves Integration into larger corporate capitalist structure (Dreier) Effectiveness of corporate control/owners over media management (Murdock and Golding) Limited control over content exercised by media professionals (Tuchman, Breed)
Professionalism not the protection against corporate control some think it to be Special condition of information producing corporations (Garnham, Herman and Chomsky, Horkheimer and Adorno) Role of the state Independent actor (Herman and
Chomsky) Conflict with bourgeois public sphere (Habermas) Representative of elite class (Miliband) Imperialism
Lenin called imperialism the highest stage of capitalism The exploitation of distant peoples, in which the local working class conspires, allows the working class to rise in relation to the conquered peoples Nationalism, etc. becomes a mainstay of hegemony, hiding and deflecting criticism of local elites or dominant classes at home The working class provides the army necessary
to dominate foreign populations Schiller Imperialism remains an important influence on global events and trends Media imperialism is a subset of the general system of imperialism. the cultural and economic spheres are indivisible
Schiller What is regarded as cultural output also is ideological and profit-serving to the system at large. In its latest mode of operation, in the late twentieth century, the corporate economy is increasingly dependent on the media-cultural sector. Schiller American
economic dominance and corresponding cultural dominance remain supreme, but are declining in the face of transnational corporate cultural domination. However, transnational organizations are modeled on American PR, advertising, research, public opinion, cultural sponsorship, etc. model.
System direction with different specific interests and objectives, and often rival aims, harmonization of the global business system is out of the question. Yet the generalized interest of some thousands of super-companies is not that different. Critical cultural studies Dissatisfied
with Marxs cultural analysis Rejected the claims of positivist social science, embraced literary and humanist approaches in balance with social science methods Critical cultural studies Cultural Marxists work off Gramscis analysis
Ideology Entire worldview Active structure for apprehending the world processing of new information according to rules that seem natural or commonsensical but in fact represent certain interests Connotative definition of language (Hall) British Cultural Studies Birmingham School
The British Cultural Studies group attempted to articulate far more fully what the nature of determination is Raymond Williams outlined a form of this in his famous essay setting limits, exerting pressures Williams stands in the gap between political
economists and cultural Marxists Cultural analysis Forms of resistance Deviant cultures/subcultures Williams
Dominant culture Residual culture Retained from earlier, effective, accepted practices replaced by newly effective cultural practices Emergent culture new meanings and values, new practices, new
significances and experiences, are continually being created no dominant culture, in reality exhausts the full range of human practice, human energy, human intention The nature of ideology/hegemony Structured in dominance Beneath conscious thought unexamined presuppositions Common sense
Universal truths Cultural analysis The nature of culture in a capitalist society Commodification (Horkheimer and Adorno)
Cheapness/kitsch Destruction of the meaning of a thing through its repetition, shoddiness, etc. Drive out true beauty, uniqueness, quality with kitsch Cultural Analysis Role of the audience in meaningmaking Encoding/decoding (Hall) Separate, but linked moments Nature of ideology as the apperception of real
lived social experience Language as a site of class struggle Cultural analysis Gradual move away from class as the defining category of all social position Race Gender
Sexual preference Defining the other Resistance More recent work has focused on resistance, on the development of cultural spaces within which the oppressed can resist, fight back, reclaim their subjectivity Hebdige (Subcultures)
Style as a form of resistance However, style and other forms of resistance are drawn back into the dominant culture Development of a market for stylecommodification Style as resistance the
challenge to hegemony which subcultures represent is not issued directly by them. Rather it is expressed obliquely, in style. The objections are lodged, the contradictions displayed (and, we shall see, magically resolved) at the profoundly superficial level of appearances: that is, at the level of signs Recuperation
The process of recuperation takes two characteristic forms: 1. The conversion of subcultural signs (dress, music, etc.) into mass produced objects (i.e. the commodity form); 2. The labelling and re-definition of deviant behaviour by dominant groupsthe police, the media, the judiciary (i.e. the ideological form)
(Hebdige) The debate Determination Base/ Superstructure Base Superstructure Political economists
Strong, direct Superstructure determined by base Forces and relations of production Uniform, reflective of elite ideology Cultural Marxists Uncertain, partial Superstructure relatively
independent, or interconnected Real, historically determined social being Hegemonic, with influences from many sources; inflected with ideology
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