Mass Media Role in Malaysia

Topics: Mass media, Kuala Lumpur, Marshall McLuhan Pages: 10 (2164 words) Published: April 20, 2015

Compare functionalism and critical theory perspectives on media and society. Which could be the most appropriate approach to understand the media role in Malaysia? Please elaborate with examples

There are many theories, approaches or model to look at the perspective of media and society in Malaysia. In order to understand media and society in Malaysia, we have to look at the meaning of Functionalism Theory and Critical Theory on mass media and society.

Functionalism theory attempt to explain media’s role in the operation of society. By using functionalism, we can explain how media influence the society. Social Institution like family, government, media, education and others. Functionalism also inteprest how social insitution contribute to the stability of the whole society. Each of the institutions is inter-related to each others. For Example, a cell needs nucleus, cytoplasm, cell membrane, vacuole and etc. A cell needs this entire component to function properly and maintain. Without one of the part, the cell will have trouble producing or even staying alive. So mass media are interrelated to others. For example, government needs mainstream media to inform public about the current situation of our economy. (Crossman, A. n.d.)

Critical Theory attempt to question the status quo regarding political issues and provide alternate ways of interpreting the social role of mass media. Critical theory is to understand the beneath the surface of social life and understanding of how the world works. (Turner, B. 2000, Mar 7 and 9. Marxist theory claasical terms like “Base & Superstructure” like mass media (Superstructure) and captalist (Base) . For example, the elite or rulling class control some of the mass media to share their beliefs to control lowe class, to use for captalism and the mass media simply disseminate the ideas of worldview of rulling class, and deny or defuse and alternative ideas (Turner, B. 2000, Mar 7 and 9). According to Horkheimer, a “critical” theory may be distinguished from a “traditional” theory according to a specific practical purpose: a theory is critical to the extent that it seeks human emancipation, “to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them” that means to liberate lower class from being enslaved by the capitalist (Horkheimer, M. (1972)

Functionalism perspective think social institution like media and society are inter-related. They need each other to maintain and sustain (Crossman, A. n.d.). Functionalism is overly accepting statues quo of a ruling class and elite controlling the media(Crossman, A. n.d.). Functionalism does not look on the class position. Functionalism has functions and dysfunction to balance up. (Crossman, A. n.d.)Where else, critical theory question media role control by ruling class or elite to influence society for their own benefit or hidden agenda. (Turner, B. 2000, Mar 7 and 9). They do not question how they control for their benefit but they believe media is important for society. Critical theory is opposite with functionalism. The theory questions the statues quo of the ownership/ control of media by ruling class or elite. (Turner, B. 2000, Mar 7 and 9).

Critical Theory will be the most appropriate approach to understand the media role in Malaysia. It is because critical theory will question the status quo between mass media/Acts and the governement of Malaysia. To understand better, we need to understand the Constitution Acts on mass media and ownership of mass media how they are influence each other in Malaysia.

There are five types of Acts that governs our media like Official Secrets Act 1972, Security Offenses (Special Measure) Act 2012 (SOSMA), Printing Presses And Publication Act 1984 (PPPA), The Computer Crime Act 1997, Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 and Sedition Act 1948. To understand Critical Theory better in Malaysia. We must understand two acts that are Printing Presses And...

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Bohman, J. (2005, Mar 8). Critical Theory. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Sep. 2014].
Crossman, A. (n.d.). Everything You Need to Know About Functionalist Theory. [online] About. Available at: [Accessed 10 Oct. 2014].
Media Freedom. (2008). [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Sep. 2014]., (n.d.). Tiong Hiew King - Malaysia Factbook. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Sep. 2014]., (n.d.). Utusan Malaysia - Malaysia Factbook. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Sep. 2014]., (2010, Sep 25) - MCA 's Huaren Holdings sells stakes in MCIL - News - My Sinchew. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Sep. 2014].
Printing Presses And Publications Act 1984. (1984). [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Nov. 2014].
Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012. (2012). [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Nov. 2014].
Shah, R. (2009, Mar 23). A cash cow for Huaren. [online] The Edge Malaysia. Available at: [Accessed 21 Sep. 2014].
Turner, B. (2000, Mar 7 and 9). Critical Theory. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Oct. 2014].
Wee Hing Thong, (2013, Nov 9). Utusan Malaysia to become UMNO-san Malaysia!. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Sep. 2014]
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