Mass Media Intro to Sociology Research Paper

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(Desai, 2011)

The conflict perspective is founded mostly on the works of Karl Marx. He believed that the distinctions between the classes and conflicts of interest created issues. This theory promulgates that society is ruled by a certain number of dominant groups and classes. It is argued that society is not truly unanimous in its value system, as debated by the functionalist mindset. The conflict view point states that this "consensus" is artificial and the "values" have been enforced upon society by the influential entities that operate in it. It questions the very foundation upon which society is built and wonders who truly is benefitting within society.

The channels of communication are usually owned by the wealthy or those that can be classified as "dominant and influential parties. Media can be used to build disagreements between variant factions residing in the community. Under this theory, it may target certain age brackets into purchasing certain kinds of products that will appeal to their self-esteem and ego. ." It chooses to direct the content of the broadcasts, programs and other media related tools as they wish. By doing so, they are only serving their own personal interests instead of the welfare of society. It disagrees with the functionalist perspective that states that each element operates within its boundaries.

No matter what the media outlet asserts in its public disclosure statements, there is always an angle, a point-of-view, and a position behind choices of stories and information. In the view of Duggan and Martinelli, the media slant with regard to political elections is created by editors who hire talent, assign stories (and sometimes kill stories that do not fit with their slant) and decide where that story should be placed. This theory holds that most viewers already know the particular slant of the media outlet. For example, a businessman reading the Wall Street Journal knows that Rupert Murdoch owns it and hence that reader knows it has a conservative slant. On the other hand, a businessman reading the New York Times knows it will have a progressive slant. That having been said, the salient point of this theory is that in a two-candidate election, the media that favors the "front-runner" will present stories that are "unlikely to deliver a surprise" while media favoring the underdog will "gamble for resurrection" (Duggan, 2011, p. 640). Balanced media, showing both candidates with equal objectivity, may be "worse for voters than partisan media" because the implication in this theory is that voters need a slant to firm up their beliefs. (Martinelli J. a., 2011)

Progressive media outlets contrast dramatically with conservative outlets. Writer Mary Rucker agrees with the conflict theory placed previously in this paper. She feels that it is owned by the "cultural elite." She perceives it as the "fourth branch of the government." She offers a theory that takes a hard line at Fox News, even accusing Fox talking heads of racism and right wing falsehoods. It is a lesson in political science that touches on how certain media influences voter opinions and choices through bias (Fox News is the prime example given by Rucker) and on the other hand how media should be fair and investigative and not strictly ideological. Fox News has become a place where "contradiction, racist ideology, and ideological tension" is part of the news presentation, along with stern support of "right-wing radical politics" (Rucker, 2012, p. 54). Using the strategy of "critical theory," Rucker asserts that "marginalized" members of society (those living on meager incomes) are considered "exiled" and their voices are "muffled, ignored, and devalued" until a political party needs their votes (52). After the election, these exiled individuals are "forced underground and quieted until they are summoned at politicians' beck and call"; the theory here is that media contributes to the power elite being able to use citizens when those citizens are needed to keep the elite in power, and discarded once the elite have retained their positions. Fox News supports the right wing political role of the media, and notwithstanding their motto, "We Report. You Decide," Fox is really in the business of promoting right wing causes and discrediting Democrats. Is this really the case? Is this article really objective? The conclusion asserts that the government has the responsibility to promote the "well-being" of ordinary citizens along with the "power elite" (Rucker, 57).

Works Cited

Brown, R. (2011). New Holistic Business Model. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media .

Desai, V.M. (2011). Mass Media and Massive Failures: Determining Organizational Efforts to Defend Field Legitimacy Following Crises. Academy of Management Journal .

Laswell, H. (1948). The structure and function of communication and society: The communication of ideas. New York: Institute for Religious and Social Studie.

Macnamara, J. (2003). Mass Media Effects: A Review of 50 years of Media Research. Carma International.

Martinelli, J. a. (2011). A Spatial Theory of Media Slant. Review of Economic Studies .


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