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MEDIA

AND
COMMUNICATIONS
John Durham Peters and Jefferson D. Pooley
OUTLINE
I. COMMUNICATION AND SOCIAL THEORY
a. Definitions
b. Trends

II. CONTEMPORARY ISSUES


a. The National Frame
b. The Shifting Moral Economy of Media
c. Globalization
d. Implications of Digital Media
e. The Great Communications Switch
f. Sociologists in the Sociology of Media
I. COMMUNICATION
AND SOCIAL THEORY
a. Definitions
• Cooley, Park, Thomas, Dewey, and Mead:
Society is a network of symbolic interactions.

• Chicagoans:
Communication is the description of human relationships and
an ideal of democratic participation.

• E. A. Ross:
Communication involves institutions and practices of recording
and transmitting symbols.
a. Definitions

Communication include the dissemination of symbols,


cultural transmission, and also more intimate processes
as dialogue, socialization, or community-creation
a. Definitions
Communication include media which refers to:

1. Personnel or Institutions of the news media


2. The Big 5 Industries – radio, television, movies, newspapers, and magazines
3. Any vessel of cultural storage, transmission, or expression
b. Trends
Task of 20th century media sociology is to minimize fears of media power

Tocqueville: Cooley: Willey & Rice:


Communication wash Communications Contacts are multiplied
personal, cultural, and enhance “choice” and out of proportion to
geographic diversity weaken “isolation” contacts at a distance

Cressey: Movie-goer are Lazarsfeld: Communication are Different


Liebes & Katz (1990):
affected by their social persuasive only under groups used their own
background and personality conditions (absence of counter- cultural and ideological
as much, or more than, by propaganda, reinforcement of predispositions and
media messages, and strategic
the immediate motion exploitation of well-established resources to interpret
picture situation behaviors) information in distinct ways.
b. Trends
2- step Flow of Communication
1. Expose themselves to media
2. Talk to friends and family, serving as links in larger network of
communication
b. Trends

Sociological Response
Outward (media) standardization
Inward (social) differentiation
II. CONTEMPORARY
ISSUES
a. The National Frame
• Communications and the Mass media were designed to:
-Link the nation-state with the household.
-Couples the “system” (market and state) & “lifeworld”
(civil society and family).
a. The National Frame
• Broadcasting: Co-oriented national populace and in its address of
a listenership at home
• Radio: medium of musically differentiated taste cultures or
“formats”
• Films: high revenues for Hollywood movies
• Television: audience are huge but increasingly fragmented into
demographic segments due to channel proliferation and
migration onto the internet
a. The National Frame
Fragmentation replaced homogenization as the fear aroused by media

• Historical Deviation: Broadcasting to a national audience then to


different conditions such as smaller audience size, differentiated
niches, altered social norms, and user-generated content
b. The Shifting Moral Economy of Media

Broadcasting- Accepted constraints on topics and forms of expression


• Embody mundaneness and normality
• Tone should be suitable to all

Film- Never had the same burden of public decency


• Movies took place outside the home, in dark spaces set apart for collective
fantasy on extraordinary topics such as romance, sex, crime, and adventure
• But dangers were buffered by collective viewing

The division of media labor has crumbled.


b. The Shifting Moral Economy of Media

The division of media labor has crumbled.


• As long as profit is the chief value that governs media production, new kinds of
content will continue to appear that can make money
• Internet: allows everyone with time, access, and skills to be a journalist, and
Facebook allows users to personalize their content (and advertisers to specify
their appeals)
c. Globalization
• Common critique: American film and television were agents of cultural
imperialism since national entertainment industries could not compete

• States seek to protect national culture by building blockage (for sex and politics):
BUT the miniaturization and cheapening of media production also fuels
transborder media flows.
BUT the ease of citizen production (and piracy) bypasses traditional
gatekeepers.
d. Implications of Digital Media
• The internet contains all previous media forms -telegraphy, telephony,
phonography, radio, television, film, books, magazines, newspapers,
and videogames and advertising

• Issues:
1. Intellectual property rights
2. Regulation of internet access
3. Bounds of privacy
e. The Great Communications Switch
Strangest and Subtlest Shifts:
Increasing mediation of interpersonal interaction by phone, email, social networks

Parasocial Interaction:
Feeling that people have personal relationships with media figures
f. Sociologists in the Media Sociology
• A paradox of media sociology is that most of it has been the work of
non–sociologist
• Sociology, with the ambition to understand social life has neglected a
central dimension- communication
• Sociological theory only touches on media questions glancingly and
has sidestepped media institutions in its studies of expressive culture
• Sociologists have been returning to communication questions-
sociology of the internet
If society is a network of symbolic interactions, then…

“SOCIETY EXISTS IN
COMMUNICATION”