Discuss The Role Of Media Studies In Making Sense Of The Political, Economic, And Cultural Meaning Of Everyday Life

1250 words - 5 pages

The term 'media' is defined by the Australian Oxford Dictionary as 'mass communications, especially newspapers and broadcasting, regarded collectively.' More specifically, the media is made up of the mass circulation press, the cinema, radio, television and recently, the Internet. The media constantly exposes us, as the audience, to an enormous quantity of ideas about elements of everyday life. Among other things, we are exposed to ideas about politics, culture, and economics, both voluntarily and involuntarily, and we are challenged to make sense of what exactly they mean to us as individuals, and members of society.It is through previously established theoretical traditions and research methodologies developed in countries all over the world that enable us to form knowledge and opinion about different elements within the media. The theoretical conventions include those of the American 'Empiricism', European Critical Theory, Western 'Marxism', British Cultural Studies, Political Economy, and French Structuralism and Semiology.Investigating these methodologies, along with exposure to media itself, can assist us in understanding the relationship between the text, the producer, and the audience, and therefore make sense of the political, economic and cultural meaning of everyday life.Studying the media is a concept that has only been existent for a short amount of time and is controversial due to the media's rapid expansion andThe worth of media studies itself includes the preparation for media practice, as well as the preparation for skilled reception by the audience, which we are all a part of. For this reason, media studies in society is a vital skill which will continue to be relevant well into the future.Media studies allows us to examine elements of the media and its affect on audiences, whilst investigating the influences that make up the media that we are familiar with. Cunningham and Turner describe briefly the way in which media shapes our way of thinking and allows us to further our ideas and opinions on particular issues. "We learn about world politics from our newspapers, radio news broadcasts and TV; while we may be aware that the views we receive are necessarily brief and partial, they play an important part in our conception of the world." (The Media and Communications in Australia, 2002)It is difficult to determine exactly how he media affects its audience, as the results are different between individuals. For example, drug use in a movie may deter someone from wanting to use drugs, whilst tempting another to try them. This shows how vital it is to study the media and the particular ways in which it affects its audience.It is essential that we continue to try and make sense of exactly how the media influences our society in order to prevent negative effects. When doing this, we should look into theoretical traditions of media is history such as the American 'empirical traditions and Western 'Marxism'J.B Thompson states his ideas about the important role media plays in self-formation, "individuals are able to gain access to new forms of knowledge which are no longer transmitted face-to-face. "Individuals' horizons of understanding are broadened... shaped increasingly by the expanding networks of mediated communication." (The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media, 1995). This proves the importance of media in everyday life in our society. We are assisting in shaping our own ideas and opinions through the media, in much the same way that we are influenced by people around us.When speaking of such influences, we must examine further the specific elements of everyday life and the way in which theoretical traditions have influenced how we think of the media to this day. Politics are all around us. Political issues can exist in the workplace and at home, as well as in our local, state and federal governments. The general public relies on the media to communicate political messages that could possibly effect how society is run. Unfortunately, the concept of politics controls a lot of what see in the media, and often it is difficult to determine what political content may have been manipulated in order to influence the audience's views.Political economy "one of the strongest and longest traditions in media studies." (Cunningham and Turner, The Media & Communications in Australia 2002)The economic meaning of everyday life relates to the production, development, and management of material wealth, as of a country, household, or business enterprise (The Australian Oxford Dictionary). The Frankfurt/Marxist School has contributed understandings of economic meanings, as too has the Political Economy. In terms of the economic realities which limit and organise other considerationsCultural studies is an Australian tradition that is heavily influenced by British Cultural studies and helps us to understand what role culture plays in our society. The Australian Oxford Dictionary defines the word culture as 'intellectual and artistic achievement or expression' and usually refers to a particular civilisation or group.In conclusion, it is important to highlight that media studies is necessary in today's society in order to make sense of how the media affects us in different ways. We are encouraged to investigate how the media affects our every day life, for example in terms of politics, culture, and economics; and begin to make sense of why we react to the media in the way that we do.These three concepts are interrelated and cover the basis ofMedia Studies provides us with theories and concepts that assist in understanding the role of media in society and its affects on ourselves, as the audience, in terms of everyday matters relating to politics, economy and culture.Looks at different traditions in Western, British and Australian media. The British media is characterised by the class system of Britian which results in newspapers that speak to the different classes of British society. There is little analysis in this system, much like the American tradition which is described as 'empirical'. In practice, this method of journalism is not so much an analysis, but a description of events.In contrast, European media takes a more analytical stance and embraces what is known as 'Marxist' analysis, which looks at issues such as how wealth is distributed in society.In Australia, we have inherited the British tradition with papers marketed to popular and educated readers (eg. Herald Sun and The Age) and a television media that is largely in the American tradition of description rather than analysis.ReferencesCunningham and Turner, The Media and Communications in Australia, 2002, Allen & UnwinBazalgette, G. "Why Media Studies is Worthwhile" in D. Fleming (ed.), Formations. A 21st Century Media Studies Textbook, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2000, pp.5-14.Thompson, J.B. "Self and Experience in a Mediated World", The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1995, pp.209-219Australian Oxford Dictionary, Oxford University Press Australia, 1996

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