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Critically Evaluate The Role Of The Mass Media In Contemporary British Society.

1109 words - 4 pages

Critically evaluate the role of the mass media in contemporary British society.The mass media within Britain consists of newspapers, television, radio, magazines, films, books and the Internet. "Mass communications comprise the institutions and techniques by which specialised groups employ technological devices to disseminate symbolic content to large, heterogeneous, and widely dispersed audiences." (Janowitz, 1968). Available to the masses these forms of media have the potential to influence the population and establish, reinforce and reflect values, opinions and lifestyles. The fact that the media has the power to do this raises issues such as how great a influence does the media hold over the population, especially as over time the mass media has achieved a larger audience and a greater power, targeting a large spectrum of people. It can be argued that the mass media plays a large role in society today, affecting and influencing peoples views and beliefs on matters such as race, sex, violence and politics. In order to evaluate the role of the mass media in contemporary British society it is essential to look at the different theories and the different ways in which the media affects society.Perhaps the most well known theory that relates to this case is the Marxist theory. Marxists see the mass media as "tools for creating a false reality as to disguise a reality of oppression and exploitation." (Curran et al, 1982). A main feature of Marxist theory is the 'materialist' stance that social being determines consciousness. Therefore, ideological positions are a function of class positions, and the main ideology in society is the ideology of its leading class. "Ideology becomes the route through which struggle is obliterated rather than the site of struggle." (Curran et al, 1982). Media institutions are regarded by Curran et al as being "locked into the power structure, and consequently as acting largely in tandem with the dominant institutions in society. The media thus reproduced the viewpoints of dominant institutions not as one among a number of alternative perspectives, but as the central and 'obvious' or 'natural' perspective." (Curran et al, 1982). The view of Marxists is that the mass media takes on a role which is not rightfully theirs, in influencing the views and beliefs of society.A second theory, the hypodermic needle model, also known as the Silver Bullet Model, assumes that the mass media is so powerful they 'inject' their messages into the audience. This theory suggests that the mass media hold a strong and powerful role in British society today, and this can be backed up on the basis of two fairly recent cases. Firstly, the case of Michael Ryan. After watching Rambo videos he randomly shot victims in Hungerford, the case being the influence of mass media. Secondly, the case of Jamie Bulgar. Two young children abducted and murdered the boy after being influenced by the film Child's Play. These two incidents suggest that the mass...

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