Why is important to study the media, rather than simply consume it?

Essay by tinyjazUniversity, Bachelor'sC+, October 2005

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The media is a dynamic entity inherent in society that is both powerful and important. It demonstrates this by playing a vital role in the development of a person's perspective on political, economic and socio-cultural issues. This consequently helps to shape individuals' viewpoints of the world and define their lives through the interpretation of media texts. (Newman, 2004). Bazalgette supported Newman's point by stating "Media studies open up your understanding of how things work, how people become informed - or misinformed - and how the myths and ideologies that govern all our lives are created and sustained." (Bazalgette, 2000, pp.14). Thus, the focus of this essay will be on these aspects; how the theory of ideology and structuralism influence communication practices, and how media texts are interpreted in relation to how people come to think of their identity and subjectivity. In view of this, we will look at the methodology of interpreting media texts, which participate in the cultural construction of our global viewpoint and lastly, how the growth of the media influences the process of self-formation, which broadens and challenges individual's horizon of self-understanding.

Ideology, a theoretical concept derived from Marxism is defined as "a kind of false consciousness, a duplicitous and abstracted version of the world put out by the ruling classes in order to maintain the subordinates of the lower classes." (Schirato & Yell, 2000). From a media context, the 'dominant ideology thesis' contends that the media induce 'false consciousness' through diversion and misinformation, thus prohibiting the exploited lower classes to recognize that they have the power to overthrow capitalism. (Sinclair, 2000). As a result, "media audiences are seen as 'cultural dopes' who absorb the ideological messages present in all media contents which induce them to believe that capitalism is both desirable and inevitable, and that...