The notion of culture and communication are important in understanding society and further comprehend its problems. Different theoretical paradigms of mass culture and mass media are never coequal viewing the matter antagonistically with another. Some theoretical approach regards the notion of communication positively whereas other considers it as having a negative impact on culture. Three of the most significant theoretical ideas on the subject are the liberal-democratic, Althusserian and governmental approaches in viewing mass communication and its impact on mass culture. This essay will seek to examine and differentiate the different perspectives in understanding communications and culture.
In the liberal-democratic theoretical paradigm, mass communication, mass media and mass culture are by-products of gradual evolvement thence communication is one of the factors assisting positive cultural liberation. Through mass communication, a mass culture follows as the media the world consumes shares similar attributes, a result of capitalism. Fukuyama promoted the idea of linkage between capitalism and liberal-democracy as the continuous more of being, ‘the final form of human government’ (Barker, 2008:170).
The liberal perspective demonstrates the individual’s freedom from dominion through power restraint, whereas the democratic perspective promotes the individual’s rights to determine their ‘collective fate’ hence amplifying the power of the people (Purcell, 2008:40). Mill as quoted by Purcell, democracy may be appeased through liberal values ergo the liberal-democratic concern for ‘the need for individuals to limit their power over themselves’ (Purcell, 2008:40). To ensure further understanding of the concept of individualism, we must first understand that the liberal-democratic approach adopts a pluralist model and that it view individuals as free-willed and rational hence the culture and media that society consumes are based on personal judgements and decisions of the members of the society, the individual.
In this approach, consumers of mass media, mass communication and mass culture are thought as sovereign and rational individuals, members of a positive social and political camaraderie. Thereupon such rationality and sovereignty of individuals, the approach appertains to tackle individuals and the social relations developed as ‘free and equal’ (Barker, 2008:171). Freedom is a function of possession and therefore the approach, to be exact, view individualism as possessive. This is because, the individual is his owner self and therefore can be automatically assumed that his actions and ideals are independent from the conviction of others be it cultural texts or other individuals.
Mauss made direct connection between Christianity to the constitution of the ‘modern man’. The individual is deemed as an ‘independent moral entity’ responsible for his own self-governed actions reflecting his superiority in analysing the benefits of social...