A Cultural Approach to Communication

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  A
 Cultural
 Approach
 to
 Communica0on
 
CLA1201
 SemA
 2012
  Department
 of
 Media
 and
 Communica0on
  City
 University
 of
 Hong
 Kong
 

Recap
 of
 Last
 Week’s
 Lecture
 
•  We
 discussed
 the
 psychological
 effects
 of
 media
 on
  the
 audience
  •  The
 media
 effects
 research
 tradi0on
 draws
 from
  psychology
 and
 sociology
 
  •  It
 is
 generally
 quan0ta0ve
 (i.e.,
 using
 numbers
 and
  formulas
 to
 represent
 knowledge)
 and
 scien0fic
 (i.e.,
  lab
 experiments.)
  •  But
 there
 are
 some
 limita0ons
 to
 this
 approach.
 

Cri0que
 of
 the
 “Effect
 Approach”
 
•  The “effect approach” (or scientific approach) of communication research" –  Reduces “cultural questions” to measurable and verifiable categories " –  Depends on “rigidly objectivity”" –  Serves advertisers and media organizations primarily" –  Narrowly focuses on audience individual behavior, ignoring questions like “where are media industries taking us” " –  Refuses to place the research in a broader social and historical context"

•  Instead, historical and cultural approaches should be used to focus on the long-range effect of mass media."

Different
 Methods:
 
  Cultural
 Studies
 vs.
 Effect
 Studies
 
•  The “cultural approach” often uses methods such as audience ethnography and textual analysis, which has previously been used primarily in humanities (e.g. literary studies)." •  The “effect approach”, or generally understood as the “communication studies”, uses methods such as survey research, content analysis and experiments."

Origin
 of
 the
 Cultural
 Approach
 
•  Originated in Europe, where an interpretive approach (as in literary criticism) is preferred to a scientific approach." •  Influenced by Marxism: mass media operate primarily to justify and support the existing power at the expense of ordinary people " –  Old-fashioned Marxists believed people were oppressed by those who owned the means of production, or the base." –  Neo-Marxists believe people are oppressed by those who control the culture, or the superstructure."

•  Its goal is to bring about change in government media policies or even fundamental change in media and cultural systems. "

"

The
 Frankfurt
 School
 
•  It emerged in the United States in 1930s when a group of scholars escaped to US from Nazi Germany, where Hitler effectively used mass media to control the minds of the public."

 

The
 Frankfurt
 School
 (Cont.)
 
•  These scholars analyzed products of mass culture within the context of cultural industries and focused on features of" –  Commodification" –  Standardization " –  Massification "

•  They believe cultural industries provide legitimation for capitalism and serve to integrate individuals into mass culture through “false consciousness”."

 

Frankfurt
 School
 scholars
 were
 the
 first
 to:
 
•  Comment on the role of “cultural industries” in the functioning of modern societies" –  Agents of socialization (positively presenting social norms)" –  Mediators of political reality" –  Maintaining the status quo and legitimating dominant power" •  Systematically analyze and criticize mass-mediated culture"


 But…
 
Its distinction between high and low culture, and preference for high culture over low culture shows an elitist bias. " –  Seeing mass culture as monolithic, duping a mass of consumers" –  An idealistic view of “authentic art”"

Adorno and Horkheimer

The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, Walter Benjamin

BBC Modern Masters Series: Andy Warhol

Nor does the distinction recognize that audience may be active, may have their own reading of a text or even become a...
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