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'the Hypodermic Syringe Model Sees The Media Audience As Passive And Easily Influenced And Manipulated By The Mass Media.' Assess This,Referring To Sociological Evidence And Arguments.

1296 words - 5 pages

The hypodermic syringe model is a theory of media effect on audience. The term is used to describe interaction between the media and public belief, offering the concept of people becoming affected by the information 'injected' into them through their information medium. (For example, television viewers would have their minds injected with sex and violence after watching too many graphically violent programmes, and this would affect their views and behaviour). The model tends to see contemporary society, as Greg Philo, a challenger of this theory says: 'composed of fragmented individuals who were subject to powerful and effective propaganda messages which they received and then reproduced...'An example of the hypodermic syringe model in action could be applied to the murder of Jamie Bulger, before which the two appallingly young murderers of the toddler had been discussing violent films that they had seen. It is generally believed that the films that the two had watched affected their behaviour, causing them to want to 'try out' some of the things they had seen on screen. However, problems with this model is that it tends to view the individual as a passive member of a large audience with no will or opinions of their own; it disregards other factors and differences in individual reception of media messages. The general view is that the hypodermic syringe model is an outdated early attempt by sociologists and psychologists to explain the relationship between the public and the media. Is it really possible for people to receive the media message unadulterated and in it's entirety? Even if they do, how will it affect their behaviour, if indeed it does?Audiences are not blank sheets of paper on which media messages can be written; members of an audience will have prior attitudes and beliefs, which will determine how effective media messages are. (Abercrombie 1996, 140)This may be the case, but whenever a situation such as the murder of Jamie Bulger occurs, the media often adopt the hypodermic syringe theory to reiterate the moral panic that they begin over the issue.A differing theory is the 'two step flow' model, which, in contrast to the hypodermic syringe model, argues that the audience is more likely to be 'opinion leaders' who expose themselves to more documentaries and newspapers in order to form better rounded opinions, then pass the information on to others. Katz and Lazarsfeld simplified this to 'attitudes and ideas flow FROM radio and print TO opinion leaders and FROM THEM to the less active sections of the population.' However, although the model focuses less on everyone being mindlessly affected by the media message and more on the absorption of concepts and the sharing of information, the model fails to address the idea that the media is accessible to everyone- whether opinion leaders or not, people still can and will listen to the radio, watch the television or read the newspapers. This model is only a little less worse than the...

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