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Sociology: Media and Popular Culture - Essay Example

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Dubbed as the fourth estate, the media are deemed as powerful and influential factors in shaping people's minds. This paper discusses how media as "consciousness industries" are defined and how they affect the social and political attitudes and values of people.
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Sociology: Media and Popular Culture
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Sociology: Media and Popular Culture

Download file to see previous pages... David Buckingham further explored this concept and added that the media as consciousness industries contribute to the perpetuation of a number of odious ideologies like male-dominant gender roles and racially prejudiced attitudes (Davis 1992).
In line with this concept, people are viewed as vessels which the media could pour ideas unto. These ideologies are then absorbed consciously or subconsciously by the audience. In the absence of adequate awareness and education, the audience undervalues the importance of discerning the moral content of the ideas imparted and promoted by the media.
Furthermore, the media have the capability to shape the malleable minds of people based on their construction of reality. The society's concept of reality is substantially affected by the media's constructed interpretation of reality ("Mass Media Effects: Glossary"). The media's interpretation of reality, though, may not be exactly a picture or reflection of what actually occurs in the real world.
Media experts recognize the "bardic" role of media in the society. As the Celtic bard mediate between rulers, so do the media intercede for the patrons or sponsors to be able to effectively impart their intended message for the audience. In this regard, the media play a crucial role in effecting social change or conflict. Moreover, the media, once their role is established, have the ability to determine the boundaries of common sense and subtly communicate these restrictions to the society. ("Mass Media Effects: Glossary")
Take for example the fast-food industry, it is apparent how the media have effectively portrayed the convenience and satisfaction people may derive from eating at fast food restaurants. This is indicative of the sustainable earnings generated by fast food chains in the country, a considerable portion of which is allocated for advertisements and promotions.
The media are instrumental in making consumers take comfort in the certainty of the quality of the generic menu offered in these fast food restaurants. Given these, the term mcdonaldization is coined by sociologist George Ritzer, which he discussed in his book "The McDonaldization of Society" published in 1993. Ritzer asserted that commodities in the society are produced to conform to predictable standards. He posited that such system works since people are keen to surrender quality and variety in exchange for certainty. ("Answers.com")
Another example which illustrates the effect on media on social attitudes and values is the their supposed ability to create an spate of behavior or what is commonly referred to as the copycat effect or contagion effect. Based on the studies conducted, people are observed to imitate what they witness in the media. For instance, in 1999, a group of doctors, who were researching the effects of medical soap operas, found out that following the episode of "Casualty" portraying paracetamol overdose actual cases increased by 20% within the sample population. Moreover, the number of paracetamol overdose cases among people who had seen the said episode doubled. The study was published in the British Medical Journal. ("Mass Media Effects: Glossary")
Similarly, the wave of suicide amongst the young in the past has been attributed to the 18th century novel "Die Leiden des jungen Werther" by the German writer Goethe. There are still ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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