Sociology of the Mass Media

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Research report-Sociology of the Mass Media
===================================================================== In this report, the author shall analyse three roles performed by the mass media in contemporary society. The roles are as follows:

1. The mass media as an agent of social control, a tool for the creation and enforcement of stereotypes and means of entertainment.

2. The second arm of this report is dedicated to the evaluation of the impact of the mass media on 3 user groups namely: the disabled; gender, particularly women and ethnic minority, particularly post 11th September 2001 [9/11] and 7th July 2006 [7/7] Muslim community.

3. The influence of media messages on media audience models namely:

a. The hypodermic syringe, and

b. The two step flow, and

c. The cultural effect, and

d. The use and gratification models.

1. THE MASS MEDIA AS AN AGENT OF SOCIAL CONTROL, A TOOL FOR THE CREATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF STEREOTYPES AND MEANS OF ENTERTAINMENT - Mass media refers to a form of communication which are directed at large mass audiences without any personal contact’. (Browne 2005 p.161). Examples include the television, radio, newspapers and magazines, books, internet etc. Brown [2005] stated that the mass media play abundant roles in our world today among which are serving as agent of social control, entertainment, creating and enforcing stereotypes, among others.

Agent of social control: There are two main ways in which the mass media achieves this purpose, that is, agenda setting/gate keeping and norm setting - (Browne 2005).

Agenda Setting/gate keeping: Most media outlets are controlled by the upper class rich and powerful segments of the society. Because the lists of subjects for public discussions are set by the mass media, they are generally influenced by the personal views and opinions of this upper class, which is then portrayed to the general public. For example, an individual, Mr Rupert Murdoch of News International, owns both the UK Sun and the Times Newspapers, which make up about 33%of the national daily newspaper sales in Britain’ (Browne 2005 p.164) Further, ‘of the total circulation of national daily and Sunday newspapers, 86 percent is controlled by just four companies, and over half by two companies (News International and Trinity Mirror).’ They set the agenda for the particular topics they want the public to discuss (Abercrombie. N and Warde. A 2000). In any event, the bulk of what we discuss on a daily basis is based on what we see and hear on the television and the radio including what we read in papers and magazines.

Owners of newspapers and magazines would not like issues adverse to their interest or the interest of their peers be published. They control what gets published which supports the conflict approach theory. For instance, stories that support trade unionism and workers strike action would be considered inappropriate since it would be adverse to their interest. A further example is the greater emphasis placed on stories involving ‘benefit cheats involving only a couple of tens or hundreds of pounds; whilst little attention is paid to tax evaders which could involve several thousand or millions of pounds. Both set of people are obviously breaking the law. But whilst the first limb is of the working class, the second is of the upper-class (contemporaries of newspaper owners). Therefore, greater emphasis is not laid on the later crime by the media - (Browne 2005).

In addition, ‘Journalists are predominantly members of the middle and upper class and this influences the way they see things’ per (Abercrombie and Warde, 2000).

The class distinction between the Upper and working class segments of the society creates a huge divide. Consequently, the way they see things, even if same issues, is radically different. It goes therefore without saying that since one social group owns...
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