Rabu, 23 November 2011

Media and society relationships

This book is about theories of mass communication, but it is hard to draw a line between ideas concerning mass media and wider theories of society. Yet one can at least try to recognize some of the fundamentals underlying assumptions about the relation between media and society. Most basic is a view of the mass media as an established social institution, with its own distinctive set of norms and practices but with the scope of its activities subject to definition  and limitation by the wider society. The implies that the media are essentially dependent on ‘society’, especially on the institutions of political and economics power, although there is scope for influence in return, and the media institutions may be gaining in autonomy, simpli as a result of the extending volume and scope of media activities. Even so, the forces historically at work in society and the wider world are more potent than the media or the immediate influence which these might exert.

The nature of the relations between media and society depends on circumstances of time and place. This book largely deals with mass media and mass communication in modern, ‘developed’ nation states, mainly elective democracies with free-market (or mixed) economies which are integrate into a wider international set of economic and political relations of exchange, competition and also domination or conflict. The author’s view is that the theory and related research discussed in this book relate generally to social contexts characterized by structured differences in economics warefare and political power between social and economic classes.

            Despite apparent stability in these social context, deep latent conflicts and tensions exist nationally and internationally, which find expression in conflicts of ideology, competing claim of resources and, occasionally, social crisis. The media are deeply involved in these matters as producers, disseminators and stores of meaning about events and contexts of public social life. It follow that the study of mass  communication cannot avoid dealing in questions of values or easily achieve neutrality and scientific objectivity.

            This particular problem arises in another form when its comes to questions of interpreting the meaning of what media carry or the meanings which are perceived by the ‘recievers’. Again the possibility of objective knowledge is at issue and, therefore, also the possibility of formulating or testing theory. This problem is similar enough in the social sciences, though it may be posed in an unusually sharp form in respect of communications, since values and meaning are at the heart of the matter.


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