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The Media Industry and the Power Elite

C. Wright Mills has described a society in which the power elite rules and manipulates mass society, while those in positions of authority obediently watch this manipulation occur.
by

ashley stauffer

on 12 May 2010

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Transcript of The Media Industry and the Power Elite

Marx & Weber
The Media and The Power Elite
Ashley Stauffer
Mass Media in Society
Roberto Velez-Velez Conflict Theory Coercion vs. Consensus - "the history of all hitherto existing society is the history
of class struggles." -Marx C. Wright Mills -Contemporary of Marx & Weber
-Used their concepts, but rejected the concept
of the "ruling class" because he believed it failed to
capture the complexity of the American power structure and
how to access it. The Media Three forms of Power Levels of Society Mills Suggests that within American Culture there are
three forms of power.

According to Mills there are 3 levels of society:

High military
corporation executives
Political directorate 2. The Middle level
"The power elite is composed of men
of similar origin and education, of similar career and style of life, their unity may be said to rest upon the fact that they are of similar social type, and lead to the face of their easy intermingling." -Mills,1958 The middle level can be thought
of as congress, parties, and conflict
interest groups (however their
decisions ultimately rely on the power elite) Ultimately, the exercise of their power is controlled by the power elite.

These entities have the power to make decisions,
but these decesions are not large scale.

For example labor union policies. Although these policies
are important, they do not effect our society as a whole, and
they are not international matters. 3. The masses 1. The Power Elite Manipulated mass society We are manipulated by media conglomerates,
the high military, and high political figures.
The public The manipulated masses have the potential
to become the public, to resist the coercion and
manipulation of the Power Elite However, Information is needed to transform the
Masses into the active public.
2. Authority-Power that is justified by those who are willingly
obediant. Voluntary obediance (not being coerced).
3.manipulation-When an individual or individuals do not
realize they are being controlled; they believe they are acting
upon free will. 1.Coercion-being forced to do something you dont
want to do. "...The middle level often seems more of a
stalemate than a moving balannce." Mills, 1958 "if we accept the Greek's definition of the idiot as
an altogether private man, then we must conclude that many American citizens are now idiots." -Mills "...the formation of the power elite rests in part
upon...the increased official secrecy behind which great decisions are made without benefit of the public or even of Congressional debate." The public is a cohesive entity that is made up of the
masses. The difference between the public and the masses is that the public have some sort of unity, whereas the manipulated masses are in no way unified. The media incudles a whole host of modern communication
systems (O'shaughnessy & Stadler, 2008) Cinema Television Newspapers Magazines Advertisements Radio The media are technologically developed communication
industries, normally making money, that can transmit information and entertainment across time and space to indivduals, and/or large groups of people. "The middle level can be seen as more of a stalemate, than
an actual moving balance" The masses are composed of individuals such as ourselves.
According to Mills we lack political unity and are therefore
subject to manipulation by the power elite. Remember, manipulation is when we are being controlled
and we have no clue that this control is being excersised over us. In current Western society there are two main perspectives in which
we talk about the media: The Market model The public sphere model The market model is the dominant model which we use to assess the mass
media using the universal currency of business success: profit
(Croteau & Hoynes, chp. 1) The public sphere model holds emphasis on the public interest Public Interest: What serves the public the best here the "public" is a subjective term; the public is
a diverse group of people who are representative
of the total population. Modern day media: The structure of our media model works upon the outline of the market model, and the assumption that competition is inherently natural.
Therefore competition is necessary for the market model to thrive and to provide the public with diverse information. Is this necessarily the case?
Is our media providing us with diverse information? George Ritzer believes that our media has
become "McDonaldized." McDonaldization has three
main characteristics: 1. standardization: Products in which we consumer are now being
made to neither exceed, or fall below a certain standard. 2. detachment: Producers and Consumers are no longer in
contact with the actual product that they produce/consume 3. Homogenization: All products now look pretty much
the same. Why? Efficiency = $$$ Our media system employs itself upon the
belief that profit equates to success. If the main goal
of the media is to make a profit, they will surely cut corners
to make the most money, and that is what we are seeing
happen today. For example, the radio industry Syndication of radio has lead to cookie cutter
programming. Along with radio, many major television stations have
also become analagous to pre-existing stations. This is the same for news stations. If our news stations are providing us with content that is
standardized and homogonized, are we really getting the whole story? Why is it like this? according to Mills, the power elite controls the middle level
through coercion tactics and mass society through manipulation. are we doomed? If we as individuals remain to be just that: individuals, it is probable
that we will remain the manipulated mass society. How do we become "the public" if the information we recieve is
biased, filtered, and not fully truthful?
ALTERNATIVE MEDIA!!! Alt. media sources allows for information to become diversified This means that there are multiple perspectives being shown, as oppossed to only a few. If we cease to rely on mainstream media without a critical eye, and begin
to make our own interpretations of news coverage, and what is really being shown
on television shows, or what is being said over the radio... It is possible that we can become the Public that Mills speaks of.
we can become an informed, united entity that can fight the coercion and
manipulation that is present in our daily lives. They taint and contol the infomation
we recieve via different mediums to inhibit our action as a mass society to become an informed public.
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