Research Paper: Mass Media Intro to Sociology Professor Stephanie

Pages: 8 (2337 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Communication - Journalism  ·  Buy This Paper

Mass Media

Intro to Sociology

Professor Stephanie DeNapoli-Sencil

Mass Media

Mass media is communication that targets a large market. It is a social force that contributes to the beliefs, norms and values that constitute contemporary culture. Whether it is broadcasted, written or spoken, it has the power to shape the perspective of the general public. Therefore, media is considered to be the "fourth estate" within the boundaries of the American governmental structure. It is supposed to safeguard the broad interests of the American public. Not only can Mass Media extend its reach to influence the national society; it has the power to advocate other forms of opinions. This can range from the promotion of a specific brand to discrediting a celebrity. The secret to this lies in the selection and formulation of the words that are imparted to the society. When one specific vehicle of media communication adopts a strong ideological position; literature and research reflect the fact that consumers do generally realize they are being swayed in one way or another. And if they don't sense it; then they are nothing more than pawns in the playing arena of a powerful media game.

The sociological theory of Functionalism explores the role mass media in civilization. This outlook analyzes society as a structured network of collaborating actors that operate in a methodical system with prescribed rules and morals. The population is seen as a stable unit with an inclination for equilibrium that implies a peaceful, organized association. (Paul B. Horton, 1964). Harry Laswell, an American political scientist, stressed that people connected to mass communication in order to benefit from it. (Laswell, 1948) His functional perspective explained that the importance of the message that was being conveyed served the public by assessing the surrounding atmosphere to give vital news and information items. It also links diverse components of the societal network. Mass media also can be an agent of spreading shared values such as justice and mutual respect. It is also meant to support and influence the national customs as well as to simply entertain the mass market. (Macnamara, 2003)

How did a Nebraska AM radio station survive the ups and downs and dramatic changes over the past 60 years? Writer Ruth Brown delves deeply into the reasons that radio station KRVN-AM in Nebraska has had a successful run of over 60 years. It is a 50,000-watt station that principally provides weather and agricultural news. The theory that Brown espouses relates to how radio stations can survive changes in management and dramatic changes in society. First of all, the station provided information that related to the economy of its audience; secondly, KRVN united various farm organizations behind the flow of information (farm prices, weather, local news, agricultural market updates and more) and formed a cooperative with four farm organizations; third, the station increased the power of its signal; fourth, the station put together strong advertising support using competent sales staff; and fifth, "We never get away from farm radio," said a board member of the cooperative; "We know why we're here" (Brown, 2011, p. 501). The four themes Brown uses vis-a-vis radio longevity: Structure, KRVN Culture, Innovation and Context. The organized layout of the radio station has definitely contributed to its prosperity. The general Manager supervises all the operational activities inclusive of all the owned stations. He reports to the Board, which is elected at the annual meeting. The four farm entities that purchased the radio station submit names and qualifications of the prospective board candidates. This is turn is further reviewed by the board nominating committee and has the final say. Once designated, the management strives to keep the board updated on the variant happenings. (Brown, 2011)

In essence, this employs the functionalist perspective and bolsters the view that if mass media remains performs its purpose; it will benefit society. By providing useful information such as timely agricultural reports to farmers, it permitted them to sell their products when prices were high; therefore increasing access to maximum profitable returns. The new owned radio station believed in applying the user -- control as well as the user benefit principle. This methodology followed the functional perspective by consenting to provide data and information to the ones who were not elements of the NRRA as well. It also paid taxes to the state; reinforcing its responsibility towards the State.

The interactionist view stresses that individuals and groups communicate mainly through the meanings they assign to signs, gesticulation, verbal and written words. This theory does not emphasize the vitality of the "state," "society" or "social institutions." People absorb the ambience within which they dwell in more. It is more to do with what one will assume or interpret." The interactionist perception takes on the notion that people will create their own reality in their minds'. They will interpret things around them as according to the actions and intentions (as far as possible). If a person will approach you with a friendly handshake, you will respond positively. However, if he comes at you with clenched fists; you will have a different reaction. It takes into account the fact that mass communication has a strong degree of influence over the general public. It will create or disperse trends in education, fashion and culture. This role will make entities and individuals pursue those tendencies and apply them in their daily lives. Media will keep evolving its theories on such factors and innovate. In turn, this is a cycle that the public may tend to follow. It follows the thought that behavior is morally relative and will co relate to what mass media says. It is vital to note that functionalists argue that values are unconditional and rules are absolute. It is one entire, unchanging nucleus that will not morph to adapt.

Exploring literature that discusses the symbolic interactionist viewpoint, one may want to know what consumers do with the barrage of advertisements they are hit with when attending films, watching television, reading magazines and watching sports. How do consumers process this information? How do they respond to this clutter of communication? Elizabeth Hirschman and Craig Thompson theorize that consumers pick up more meaning than specific information -- actually consumers process meaning -- from mass media advertising. Rather than searching for the actual information the advertisement is providing, consumers are processing advertisements for frames of reference that may include the following: a) the "good life"; b) how celebrities live; c) knowledge about "standard advertising genres"; and d) "aesthetic standards for production values" (Hirschman, et al., 1997, 43). The theory put forward by Hirschman and Thompson states that consumers' background knowledge drives the perspective they are operating from the time they view advertisements. But the authors' theory goes a step deeper: they posit those consumers' relationships "…with non-advertising forms of mass media are an essential aspect of the perceived meanings they derive from advertisements" (Hirschman, 44). And when it comes to a celebrity endorsement -- for example, when Danica Patrick pitches for Go Daddy in a Super Bowl commercial -- according to Hirschman / Thompson, the commercial is effective only to the degree that the viewer relates to Patrick's "…public persona and the culturally predominant image" of Go Daddy. Fans of NASCAR or racing sports per se will relate to Patrick on a different level than someone who uses Go Daddy as an online domain but has little interest in racing sports and has never heard of Patrick. In this particular advertisement, a beautiful masseuse is giving Patrick a massage. She recognizes him and begins a gyrating dance to try and prove that she is worth of doing a commercial of her own. As it is a commercial within a commercial, and viewers, according to Hirschman's theory, will process it according to their perception of luxury and fame. (Thompson, 1997)

Another avenue that may be investigated is that if a crisis occurs to one particular firm, are other firms in the same industry influenced enough to change the way they conduct their operations? Vinit Desai explains that media coverage of airline disasters, toxic spills, and "other catastrophes," promotes transformation across organizational fields. The theory put forward here is that when an accident happens in a certain sphere of operation, other large organizations in the field "are more likely to engage in defensive institutional work" than organizations that are exposed to a lower level of media scrutiny. That defensive posture, Desai explains, when organizations that do share characteristics that "were not believed to be directly responsible" for the mishap or disruption. Media coverage can be "insidious" and can reflect "negative viewpoints." Hence, it is vital that when there is a rail disaster (head-on crash between a commuter train and a train pulling coal cars), all train companies will suddenly be under the media microscope. How the corporations respond will be reported in manners that maybe deemed as unfair; however, the theory holds that the public images of all companies within one genre often need to adjust their image and their… [END OF PREVIEW]

Media's Stereotypical Portrayal of Blacks and Minorities Term Paper


Mass Media Violence Term Paper


Media Analysis Report on Aging Television Shows Movie Review


Mass Media as it Has Changed Through Three Sociological Eras Term Paper


How Have Publicly Owned Media Companies Shaped Mass Term Paper


View 1,000+ other related papers  >>

Cite This Research Paper:

APA Format

Mass Media Intro to Sociology Professor Stephanie.  (2012, March 21).  Retrieved October 16, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/mass-media-intro-sociology-professor/795011

MLA Format

"Mass Media Intro to Sociology Professor Stephanie."  21 March 2012.  Web.  16 October 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/mass-media-intro-sociology-professor/795011>.

Chicago Format

"Mass Media Intro to Sociology Professor Stephanie."  Essaytown.com.  March 21, 2012.  Accessed October 16, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/mass-media-intro-sociology-professor/795011.