Media Theories

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Mind Map on Media Theories, created by whitehousea on 03/23/2015.

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Media Theories
1 Structural Theory involves semiotics, structuralism and post-structuralism...
1.1 Semiotics is the study of codes or languages and the signs from which they are made, like spoken or written language. To steps to reading signs are denotation and connotation (symbolic).
1.1.1 Saussure (1983) suggests we read media texts on three levels: Syntactic level – basic denotations of the text Representational level – representations conveyed in the text Symbolic level – hidden cultural or symbolic meanings
1.1.2 Barthes (1967) developed Saussure's ideas suggesting that our understadning on media texts rely on the texts' relationship to frequently told stories/myths in our culture For Barthes, the final layer of signification relates to cultural meaning. For example, the Cinderella myth suggests that Men are active and women are passive.
1.1.3 Fiske (1982) warns there is a tendency to read connotations as if they were slef-evident truths
1.1.4 Signs are split into the signifier and the signified. An iconic image has a signifier that bears close to the object being signified. An indexical sign assums a relationship between the signifier and the signified. Symbolic signs have no obvious relationship beteen the signifier and the signified. Signifier: visible part of a sign e.g. an image/letter. Signified: the idea, meaning or concept represented by the signifier. Their relationship is arbitary. It relies upon culture. Symbolic signs make up most of spoken language and media language.
1.1.5 In the exam, it is key to look at both HOW a chosen sign influences meaning and WHY a particular sign has been chosen
1.2 Structuralism utilises a semiotic perspective in which societies, cultural practivces and artefactslike media texts, can be anayslysed as languages or signifying systems.
1.2.1 Barthes (1974) argued that there are 3 narrative codes identifiable across media texts: action codes (a series of actions that allow the viewer to become absorbed in the narrative) enigmatic codes (structuring the plot sequence arond a series of questions that maintain audiences interest and fascination in the text) and symbolic codes (identifying a texts major structuring themes, often expressed in binary opposites e.g. man or woman or in PHYSCO-ANALYTIC THEMES e.g. father versus son) Physco-analytic themes: based on th rok of SIGMUND FREUD arguing that human actions are often motivated by repressed sexual fears and desires.
1.2.2 Auteur theory: suggests that the director is the author of the fim and that film reflects his or her particular visual style, themes, values and ideologies Grist (2000) argued that the films of director Martin Scorsese always exmplore themes of masculinity and repression.
1.3 Post-structuralism challenegs many of the assumptions of structuralism, that a text has one meaning, emphasising the different meanings an audience can create. Emphasises the arbitary nature between signifiers and signified
1.3.1 There are a number of realtionships between post-structuralism and post-modernism
2 Political Theory
2.1 Marxism and Hegemony
2.1.1 Marxism in media suggests that the view of the world constructs media to persuade the proletetariat to accept capitalism as natural whilst distracting them from explaining about exploitation Gramsci introduced hegemony using the theory to explain how popular culture contributed to the manufacturing of consent for bourgeoisie power within capitalist societies Hegemony: the process by which a power elationship is accepted, consetned to and seen as natureal or as 'common sense'. Though it focuses on on class, it can be applied to power relations found in gender, sexuality and race. For example, it can be suggested that repeated media representations of middle-class people in positions of power, control and leadership, such as reading the nes, suggest that class division in society are 'common sense' Chomski and Herman (1998) argue that the media manipulates populations to prevent them from rebelling against the powerful or dominant classes. This filtering on infromation is not done intentionally, but is often based on the media institutions need for profit and to appeal to customers The political-economy approach criticizes the Marxist theory, in that it assumes the adueince is passive and easily manipulated by media producers. Stuart Hall's (1981) interpretation Gramsci's concept of hegemony emphasises that consent for bourgeoisie is fragile, fleeting and has to be constantly worked at and re-established. Suggesting that popular culture is a site for the contestation over ideologies, values and hegemony, and does not merely manufacture consent. A close examination of many popular media texts suggests that texts are polysemic (open to a range o fidfferent meanings and interpretations)
2.2 Liberal Plurism
2.2.1 Challenges Marxist approaches as it sees society as being made up of competing interest groups, rather than seeing society as dominated by the bourgeoisie. Liberal Plurism does not understand media as operating to maintain the hegemony of the bourgeoisie, but rather the media is perceieved to be subject to the wishes of its consumers. This is supported by market-liberalism approach. Liberal plurists argue that instead of media conveying hegemonic values, a range of views are passed through the media. The Liberal-plurist perspective suggests thataudiences select anf rejectfrom a range of opinions/values offered by the media. Offers a more active approach of the audience than Marxist does. Also suggests media can operate as a crucial elemtnof democracy by reporting events on TV, news and newspapers, keeping the electorate informed about Government actions and the legal system. Del Sola Poole (1977) suggests that new media allows a 'flowering of hundreds of different voices'
2.2.2 Feminism and Queer theory raise questions about the political significance of the media as it is believed thta media tends to under-represent some political and social groups as well as their views and values. When a group is not visible in the media it implies, as Graham Murdoch (1999) argues, that the group is not includedin the dominant perception of society.
3 Feminism and Post-Feminism
3.1 Feminists (late 60's and 70's) argued that the social divisions in society benefit men in terms of ork and eductaional oppurtunities, wages and access to political and economic power. They argue that there is an emphasis on sexuality and physical appeareance in the representation of women in the media.
3.1.1 Laura Mulvey (1975) argued that mainstream hollywood film was the product of a male-dominated and controlled industry. So that, men controlled the action and were repsonsible for moving the narrative along, omen were represented as passive objects of the male gaze, and pleasure in viewing comes from voyeurism, narcissism and scopophilia.
3.1.2 Narcissism: identification with or erotic appeal of an idealised image of onself. Scopopohilia: finding pleasure in looking at other people as objects.
3.1.3 Try to avoid using simplistic use of theories. Theory is a starting point to indicate a particular way of looking at a text. Need to be used carefully and crticially in relation to the text.
3.1.4 It is difficult to apply Mulvey's thoery to all media texts, TV for example is intended for a glance not a gaze with greater emphasis on sound.
3.1.5 Gammon and Marshment (1988( argue against Mulvey's thory, suggetsing thta in recent years the number of texts have represented men as objects for the female gaze. They also suggest that women viewers are active, engaging critically with tmedia texts by selecting texts that have meaning for them.
3.2 Post-Feminism: feminism is no longer necessary due to the introduction of equal pay for work, equal rights, and increased women in higher education. It is argued that many new texts take a playful and irreverent attitude to gender divisions.
3.2.1 Judith Butler (1999) suggests that gender is not the result of nature but is socially constructed. Male and female behaviour is reinforced through society media and culture. She refers to over-exagerated representations on men and women as GENDER TROUBLE (refers to any behaviour and representation that disrupts culturally accpeted nations of gender)
3.3 Queer theory
3.3.1 Butler's theory of gender trouble have also been linked to queer theory, hich explores and challenges the ay in which hetrosexuality is constructed as normal, and the media has limited representations of gay men and women. Queer suggests that sexual identity is more fluid. Queer also suggetss there are different ways of interpreting new meid atexts by looking at the fluidity of gender representation.
4 Post-colonialism
4.1 Race - British and other EU powers held large colonial empires in Africa, Asia and South America. There are no colonial empires to this day. However, it is suggested that colonialism still has an impact on modern day businesses and media/media representations.Post-colonialism does not emphasise a new, technologically inter-related media world, but the importance of the cultural, economic, political, and military cominance of the past.
4.1.1 Edward (1995) introdcued the concept of ORIENTALISM (a perspective that auggests the East and Orient are presented as provoking both fear and fascination within Western culture). He argued that this sense of the Orient is central to the development of European Culture, hich has constructed itself in relation to and against their images of the Orient. Thos who have suffered this migration may have develpped a sense of DIASPORA IDENTITY (the result of forced or voluntary migration where people experience both a sense of belonging to a cultural group that is 'other' to the dominant culture of their country of residence). This sense of alientation could be derived from their lack of representation in contemporary media. Alvarado (1987) suggested that there are four types of represetnations for members of the black community: the humorous (comedians like Lenny Henry) the exotic (models like Naomi Campbell) the pitied (represetnations of needy black communities through charity advertising) the denagerious (portrayed in news and documentary) Historically, black and asian people are represented negatively, such as the villain, or take subserviant, or 'helper' roles rather than the hero. Representations of race and gender are often constructed in terms of binary oppositions, for example black and white. The rise in black British community media production could explain the increase in diversity and frequency of representing different races. TERRORIST can be defined by: religious or national extremis, illogical and irrational behaviour, disregard for human life, sexism, frequent use of violence and cruelty and often characterised as ethniclly Middle Eastern or Arab.
5 Audience theory
5.1 Audiences have become increasingly important given new media (interent, Ipods, Satelite TV, DVD's and user-demand TV, such as Tivo and Sky). These technologies increase audience control, and allow audiences and producersto become more fluid.
5.1.1 Different ways of consuming media texts: primary media (films shown in cinemas demand close and concentrated attention from the aduience) secondary media (radio and TV programming provide a backround for an audience who are often doing something else at the same time) tertiary media (media texts consumed by audiences who are almost unaware of their own engagement with the media) Gerbner (1956) suggested messages do not just flow from the text to the audience, but instead there is another step in the process as audiencesdiscuss the ideas they acquire from media with each other. They may debated and challenge the values and ideologies that the media conveys, hich consequently reduces the power of the text. Audiences have the pwoer to choose the media they consume to suit their needs. . Blumler and Katz (1974) suggetss that audience uses media socially anf for psychological gratification. Other examples of the uses audiences make of media include: sharing and discussing experiences with others, oobtaining information about the world, helping to gain idenitity. Examples of the gratifications audiences may gain from the media include: finding a distraction or diversion, seeing euthority figures inflated or exhalted, seeing others make mistakes or making fools of themselves, reinforcing a belefi that justice will untimately triumph.
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