Construction of Knowledge

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Throughout this course, we have been exposed to various fields of literature that revolve around a specific theme portraying the argument and point being made. It is possible, however, that two very opposite articles with unrelated topics can and may revolve around a similar theme. Beginning on page 239 of Katherine Ann Ackley’s Perspectives on Contemporary Issues, author Jean Kilbourne describes the impact that advertising has had on our society in her write Advertising’s Influence on Media Content. This article shares a close connection Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning novel, The Giver. In this dystopian society, a society characterized by human misery (Dictionary.com), officials regulate what the members of the Community know and experience. In addition to Kilbourne, published in The Atlantic in 2008 is writer David Carr’s article Is Google Making Us Stupid? Carr explains that the use of the internet and web browsers such as Google has altered the process in which we perceive information. Although these articles discuss very different issues, from contradicting advertisements to the perception of information, one can take notice to a striking resemblance. The construction of knowledge is affected through both the impact of advertisements in society as well as our recent exposure to the luxury of the internet. The regulation of information and the modern, instantaneous method of attaining knowledge contribute to the deterioration of our construction of knowledge.

Author Jean Kilbourne describes in her article Advertising’s Influence on Media Content the misrepresentation of information provided by the media through magazines and television. The media exerts their content in two major ways: via the suppression of information that would harm or offend the sponsor and via the inclusion of editorial content that reflects the product in a positive light (Kilbourne, 239). The line between advertising and editorial content is blurred by advertorials, product placement, and video news releases (239). Strikingly, up to 85% of the news we get is bought and paid for by corporations eager to gain positive publicity (239). It is startling to see the control that the media has on what advertisements we as a society are exposed of, and how information is being filtered and regulated for the open public.

In 1998, a scandal surfaced concerning the working conditions in foreign factories that supply Nike. Nike’s sponsorship of CBS’ Olympic coverage was rewarded when correspondents delivered the news wearing jackets emblazoned with Nike’s symbol (240). The president of CBS News denied that this sponsorship had anything to do with the investigative 48 Hours segment that had been released just before (240). The editor of The San Francisco Examiner likewise denied that Nike’s co-sponsorship of their annual promotion was in any way related to kill a column by a reporter that was highly critical of Nike (240). It is clear that corporations such as Nike have a way with advertising and have mastered the technique of masking their scandalous ways. Nike’s influence on the media and filtering of information is frightening, and its control over the construction of knowledge has deterred society from questioning its actions.

In connection to the concealment of truths, Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver is based upon the construction of knowledge of a civilization. The novel revolves around Jonas, a twelve-year-old boy living in a dystopian society, where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives (Lowry). He is chosen among his community to serve as the “Receiver of Memory” where he will maintain the past memories of a time before Sameness filled with pain and suffering, and the training for which will isolate him from his family and friends forever (Lowry). He learns through the previous Receiver, known as the Giver, about true knowledge and is exposed to a world shunned from the others of that society (Lowry). Jonas...
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