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Introduction to Media & Cultural Studies: What & Why

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Claire Scott

on 17 February 2014

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Transcript of Introduction to Media & Cultural Studies: What & Why

We can discuss the media at a more general theoretical level:
MEDIA THEORY explores questions such as-
What is the relationship between the media and democracy?
Do we shape the media or do they shape us?

One can ask questions about the production and diffusion of messages:
Who owns the media?
Who controls what can be said?
How are the messages disseminated?
How are the media regulated?

One can ask questions about how people receive the messages:
How people receive the messages – do all people receive them in the same way?
Are the messages appropriated differently by different groups of people?

One can ask questions about the messages the media give us:
MEDIA SEMIOTICS explores questions such as –
How are media messages structured?
What stereotypes are used?
What genres are used?
Are there any subtexts present in the message?

Why and how do we study the media?


Media are technologically developed and economically profitable forms of human communication, held in either public or private ownership, which can transmit information and entertainment across time and space to a large group of people.


Media change occurs in capitalist economy – development influence by profit motives
Government seeks to control potential power of media through censorship, licensing and public ownership
Technical and scientific developments contribute to media developments eg: military developments led to early video-camera recording, internet and satellite technology

Why does the media develop?
Are human communication systems
Use processes of industrialised technology for producing messages
Aim to reach large audiences: success depends on popularity
Allow for communication across distance
They are the medium – the vehicle of transmission of messages
Development affected by commercial interests

Characteristics of the Media

Phrase used to denote that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience
What are the mass media?

A medium is one of the mass media, such as radio or television

Let’s look at the word “media” in Media Studies
We need to understand how the media influences and impacts on our social, political and economic experience of the world.
We use a variety of approaches to help us understand the media and the various ways in which they interact with each other and with social, political and economic forces.

How and why do we study the media?

One can ask questions about how the media have developed over time:
MEDIA HISTORY explores questions such as–
Remediation or, how do successive media forms build on each other?
How have the media affected society?
How have the media contributed to individual and social identities?

Main approaches used:

How do we study the media?

The media tell us what is going on in the world
The media are a central part of our lives
The media are influential
Domestic media hardware has become an intrinsic part of our homes and our lives
The media are very profitable

Why do we study the media?

1500s: development of moveable type and the printing press results in the mass production of paper and increased media output

1700 – 1800s: Industrial Revolution – new forms of power and increase in technology, revolution in communication systems via road, rail and water, urbanisation: increased literacy, demand for info and entertainment

1800 – 1900s: explosion of technology and new communication systems – photography, film, sound recording, telegraphs, radio, TV. But access to Media is not global

2000s: Digital revolution – computer chip, satellites, digital technology, internet

Historical Developments
What is Media Studies?


There is a structural break between speaker and listener
It is technologically dependent
It is commodified
It is regulated
Mass media differs from simpler forms of communication because:
“Medium” is the singular form of the word “media”
“Medium” has many meanings, but we’re going to focus on TWO:
A medium is a tool or channel by means of which something is accomplished or transferred
Social and Economic Determinants
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