Media Culture Power

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Discuss how notions of communication and culture are understood within the liberal democratic, Althusserian and ‘governmental’ theoretical paradigms. The living of people can be considered as one of the hardest issues to study in the world. In the development of the society, new products and ideas were invented and produced purposely to improve the living standard of the people which also impacted their livings in the same time. Thus, sociologists came out with their social theories or approaches deliberately to explain the order of the society. Studying the theories and approaches is important in the area of communication and cultural studies because it enables people to understand the world’s order better and accurately. The aim of this essay is to discuss how the notions of communication and culture are understood in three of the most essential social approaches in the history, namely liberal democratic, Althusserian and governmental approach. Liberal democratic approach is also known as liberal pluralism, structural-functionalism and American social science approach to mass communications. It positively sees mass society contributes to the formation for the model of research into the dominant mass communication (McQuail, 1994). This is opposite to what both idealist (Arnoldian and Leavisite) and materialist (Frankfurt School) had defined the mass culture. According to the idealist approach, mass culture is seen as the opposite to the high culture which dehumanize and fragmentize the human communities; while materialist approach claim that mediated mass culture depress the society by showing the culture artificially and monolithically. With the examples given, it is clear that the mass culture is viewed oppositely on the different viewpoints of the approaches. As being mentioned before, in the liberal democratic point of view, mass culture and mass communication are positively viewed in the formation of ‘dominant paradigm’. Dominant paradigm or dominant meaning structure mixed a vision of powerful mass media in a mass society with the typical research practices of the emerging social sciences, especially on social surveys, statistical analysis and psychological experiments (McQuail, 1994). Base on what Denis McQuail stated, dominant paradigm is essential in the formation of a ‘good society’ and the four key elements of ‘good society’ are democratic (elections), liberal (free-market conditions), pluralistic (institutionalized competition between parties and interests) and orderly (legitimate) (McQuail, 1994). In this point, mass media or mass culture play a very important role in the development of the society. It helps to maintain the order of a ‘good society’. For example, publication of the newspapers is seen as a constructive action to the community because it enables the information to be conveyed freely and the flow of the information will contribute to the development of the society. Next, a question will be asked: Why do people use media and what do they use them for? Denis McQuail stated that, the needs for information, relaxation, companionship, diversion and escape are the basis similarities of personal need, taste and interest of the formation for the audiences in the liberal democratic approach (McQuail, 1997). Although the existence of media is abstract in people’s livings, people tend to find what they need by exposing themselves to the media. For instance, radio soap operas is the source of advice or support and also a source of emotional release through laughter or tears for the mother and housewife though it filled with mindless stories (McQuail, 1997). Technically, the hollowness of the story makes radio soap opera is not a kind of media that can be considered as educative, but certain groups of audiences who shared the same identity as mother and housewife did benefit from it. Moreover, the importance of newspaper does not consist only of the flow of information, but also essential for giving the...
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