The Role of Media in Youth Culture in Contemporary Society

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A $150 billion dream is how the demographic of teens is described in PBS’ “Merchants of Cool”. The role that society has given to the media to dictate youth culture has become one of the most lucrative conquests corporations are battling over today. Much like empires throughout history, media empires today have found their ‘Africa’. This paper is an examination of this silent, bloodless conquest through two different sociological lenses. First we will consider the effect of media in youth’s culture using functional theory. Stating the primary assumptions valuable in studying the effects of media on youth and youth culture. We will then consider the role of media in youth’s culture and how it is a functional piece of society. We will next consider the symbolic interactionist’s perspective. Again, following the same process as with the functional theory. I chose these two classic sociological perspectives because I thought it best to examine from both macrosociological (functional) and microsociological (symbolic interaction) viewpoints to grasp a more comprehensive understanding. Ultimately though deductive reasoning , the perspective that makes more sense in [making sense] of popular culture in the United States. Before we start our examination, let me first address my usage for a few terms. Throughout the paper, I use the word ‘product’. This is meant to be any idea, method, information, good or service meant to satisfy the demand of a targeted potential customer. The second term is ‘cool’. Cool, as referred to in the film, is the desirable product a business tries to sell to young people. The functionalistic perspective views the social world as a dynamic system of interrelated and interdependent parts (Ravelli & Webber, 2010, p. 40). There are several assumptions this viewpoint incorporates. To begin with, society is a collection of subsystems and institutions that rely on each other in order for it to function. In doing so, society generates a degree of...
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