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Culture Industries - Essay Example

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The political economy perspective has made a prevalent contribution to our understanding of cultural production. From a political economist perspective, cultural practices in society are the product of economic relations, as emphasised by Marx, "The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life" (Murdock and Golding in J…
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Culture Industries
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Culture Industries

Download file to see previous pages... The work of Adorno and Horkheimer on "culture industries" (K. Negus in Du Gay 1997 70) analyses the impact of cultural industries in determining the media output and the impact that has on the production and consumption of cultural practices. The cultural industry of the institutions of music explores how the economic dynamics shape the production of music. In general political economy emphasises a dominant mode of production which regulates consumption and the distribution of ideas. Its great emphasis lies with power, control and ownership of the means of production. In true Marxists terms, "those who have the means of material production at its disposal does have control at the same time of the means of mental production" (Golding & Murdock, in Barrett et all 1979: 199).
It is through the nature of production within the mass media that the ruling ideas of those who own the means of material production are disseminated and aims to weaken the opposition to the established order, namely the working class. The relationship between ownership and control of media content is not just a Marxist view but is a common-sense axiom "the contents of the media always reflect the interests of those who finance them" (McQuail 1994: 162). Therefore, what is presented in the media is not a reflection of the social and cultural reality, but simply a reflection of the perspective of those who own and control the media.

Media as an Enlightenment Tool
The mass media is a pivotal institution in the production of culture. The political economy view considers the control and ownership of media by a few powerful individuals or organisations determine the content produced in the media. It is these individuals or the organisations known as the conglomerates of communication that control the media output. Therefore, Peter Golding and Graham Murdock emphasise that this economic structure should be at the forefront of sociological analysis and explore "the way its organisation and underlying dynamics shape the range and forms of media production" (Golding & Murdock, in Barrett et all 1979: 199). The mass media is an instrument of the capitalist class and its content aims to maintain and preserve the capitalist interest and ideologies.
The essence of media power lies with the control they hold over their consumers. Corporate ownership within the media enables particular personnel to dictate what goes on in the media. Through concentration and conglomeration of various mediums, tycoons such as Rupert Murdoch and Silvio Berlusconi are able to control and mediate the content of media output. It is through this exercise of power and control that cultural production and cultural life is conditioned by economic relations. Golding and Murdock draw on the work of Raymond Williams who recognises that this growing concentration of media ownership and control in the hands of large conglomerates is the pivotal factor in determining the production ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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