How Does Mass Media Influence Modern Culture
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Mass media - Society and Culture - MCAT - Khan Academy
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This increased efficiency helped lead to the rise of the daily newspaper. As the first Europeans settled the land that would come to be called the United States of America, the newspaper was an essential medium. At first, newspapers helped the Europeans stay connected with events back home. But as the people developed their own way of life—their own culture —newspapers helped give expression to that culture. Political scientist Benedict Anderson has argued that newspapers also helped forge a sense of national identity by treating readers across the country as part of one unified group with common goals and values.
The United States continued to develop, and the newspaper was the perfect medium for the increasingly urbanized Americans of the 19th century, who could no longer get their local news merely through gossip and word of mouth. These Americans were living in an unfamiliar world, and newspapers and other publications helped them negotiate the rapidly changing world. The Industrial Revolution meant that people had more leisure time and more money, and media helped them figure out how to spend both.
In the s, the major daily newspapers faced a new threat with the rise of the penny press—newspapers that were low-priced broadsheets. These papers served as a cheaper, more sensational daily news source and privileged news of murder and adventure over the dry political news of the day. While earlier newspapers catered to a wealthier, more educated audience, the penny press attempted to reach a wide swath of readers through cheap prices and entertaining often scandalous stories.
In the early decades of the 20th century, the first major non-print forms of mass media—film and radio—exploded in popularity. Radios, which were less expensive than telephones and widely available by the s, especially had the unprecedented ability of allowing huge numbers of people to listen to the same event at the same time. Radio was a boon for advertisers, who now had access to a large and captive audience. The reach of radio also further helped forge an American culture. The medium was able to downplay regional differences and encourage a unified sense of the American lifestyle—a lifestyle that was increasingly driven and defined by consumer purchases.
This boom in consumerism put its stamp on the s, and, ironically, helped contribute to the Great Depression of the s. The post-World War II era in the United States was marked by prosperity, and by the introduction of a seductive new form of mass communication: television. In , there were about 17, televisions in the entire United States. Within seven years, two-thirds of American households owned at least one set. Along with a television, the typical U. Broadcast television was the dominant form of mass media. There were just three major networks, and they controlled over 90 percent of the news programs, live events, and sitcoms viewed by Americans. On some nights, close to half the nation watched the same show!
But television also contributed to the counterculture of the s. Broadcast technology, including radio and television, had such a hold of the American imagination that newspapers and other print media found themselves having to adapt to the new media landscape. Broadcast media, in contrast, usually aired programs on a fixed schedule, which allowed it to both provide a sense of immediacy but also impermanence—until the advent of digital video recorders in the 21st century, it was impossible to pause and rewind a television broadcast.
The media world faced drastic changes once again in the s and s with the spread of cable television. During the early decades of television, viewers had a limited number of channels from which to choose. In , the three major networks accounted for 93 percent of all television viewing. By , however, this share had dropped to Cable providers allowed viewers a wide menu of choices, including channels specifically tailored to people who wanted to watch only golf, weather, classic films, sermons, or videos of sharks. Still, until the mids, television was dominated by the three large networks.
The Telecommunications Act of , an attempt to foster competition by deregulating the industry, actually resulted in many mergers and buyouts of small companies by large companies. The broadcast spectrum in many places was in the hands of a few large corporations. In , the Federal Communications Commission FCC loosened regulation even further, allowing a single company to own 45 percent of a single market up from 25 percent in New media technologies both spring from and cause cultural change. For this reason, it can be difficult to neatly sort the evolution of media into clear causes and effects. Did radio fuel the consumerist boom of the s, or did the radio become wildly popular because it appealed to a society that was already exploring consumerist tendencies?
Probably a little bit of both. Technological innovations such as the steam engine, electricity, wireless communication, and the Internet have all had lasting and significant effects on American culture. Electricity altered the way people thought about time, since work and play were no longer dependent on the daily rhythms of sunrise and sunset. Wireless communication collapsed distance. The Internet revolutionized the way we store and retrieve information. The contemporary media age can trace its origins back to the electrical telegraph, patented in the United States by Samuel Morse in Thanks to the telegraph, communication was no longer linked to the physical transportation of messages.
Suddenly, information from distant places was nearly as accessible as local news. Celebrations broke out in New York as people marveled at the new media. Telegraph lines began to stretch across the globe, making their own kind of world wide web. Not long after the telegraph, wireless communication which eventually led to the development of radio, television, and other broadcast media emerged as an extension of telegraph technology. Although many 19th-century inventors, including Nikola Tesla, had a hand in early wireless experiments, it was Italian-born Guglielmo Marconi who is recognized as the developer of the first practical wireless radio system. Early radio was used for military communication, but soon the technology entered the home.
The radio mania that swept the country inspired hundreds of applications for broadcasting licenses, some from newspapers and other news outlets, while other radio station operators included retail stores, schools, and even cities. In , they owned 6. The 19th-century development of photographic technologies would lead to the later innovations of cinema and television.
As with wireless technology, several inventors independently came up with photography at the same time, among them the French inventors Joseph Niepce and Louis Daguerre, and British scientist William Henry Fox Talbot. In the United States, George Eastman developed the Kodak camera in , banking on the hope that Americans would welcome an inexpensive, easy-to-use camera into their homes, as they had with the radio and telephone. Moving pictures were first seen around the turn of the century, with the first U.
By the s, Hollywood had already created its first stars, most notably Charlie Chaplin. By the end of the s, Americans were watching color films with full sound, including Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Television, which consists of an image being converted to electrical impulses, transmitted through wires or radio waves, and then reconverted into images, existed before World War II but really began to take off in the s. In , there were , television sets made in the United States; five years later, there were 15 million.
Radio, cinema, and live theater all saw a decline in the face of this new medium that allowed viewers to be entertained with sound and moving pictures without having to leave their homes. How was this powerful new medium going to be operated? After much debate, the United States opted for the market. Competing commercial stations including the radio powerhouses of CBS and NBC owned stations and sold advertising and commercial-driven programming dominated. Funding was driven by licensing fees instead of advertisements. In contrast to the American system, the BBC strictly regulated the length and character of commercials that could be aired.
By the beginning of , there were 36 million television sets in the United States, and 4. Important national events, broadcast live for the first time, were an impetus for consumers to buy sets and participate in the spectacle—both England and Japan saw a boom in sales before important royal weddings in the s. In the s, the concept of a useful portable computer was still a dream; huge mainframes were required to run a basic operating system.
He had, in effect, predicted the computer. He was prescient about the effect that computers and the Internet would have on education, social relationships, and the culture at large. The inventions of random access memory RAM chips and microprocessors in the s were important steps along the way to the Internet age. Even a brief history of media can leave one breathless. The speed, reach, and power of the technology are humbling. The evolution can seem almost natural and inevitable, but it is important to stop and ask a basic question: Why?
Why do media seem to play such an important role in our lives and our culture? With reflection, we can see that media fulfill several basic roles. One obvious role is entertainment. Media can act as a springboard for our imaginations, a source of fantasy, and an outlet for escapism. In the 19th century, Victorian readers, disillusioned by the grimness of the Industrial Revolution, found themselves drawn into books that offered fantastic worlds of fairies and other unreal beings. In the first decade of the 21st century, American television viewers could relax at the end of a day by watching singers, both wonderful and terrible, compete to be idols or watch two football teams do battle.
Media entertain and distract us in the midst of busy and hard lives. Media can also provide information and education. Information can come in many forms, and often blurs the line with entertainment. Today, newspapers and news-oriented television and radio programs make available stories from across the globe, allowing readers or viewers in London to have access to voices and videos from Baghdad, Tokyo, or Buenos Aires. Books and magazines provide a more in-depth look at a wide range of subjects. Online encyclopedias have articles on topics from presidential nicknames to child prodigies to tongue-twisters in various languages.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT has posted free lecture notes, exams, and audio and video recordings of classes on its OpenCourseWare website, allowing anyone with an Internet connection access to world-class professors. Another useful aspect of media is its ability to act as a public forum A social space that is open to all, and that serves as a place for discussion of important issues. A public forum is not always a physical space; for example, a newspaper can be considered a public forum.
In newspapers or other periodicals, letters to the editor allow readers to respond to journalists, or voice their opinions on the issues of the day. These letters have been an important part of U. Blogs, discussion boards, and online comments are modern forums. Indeed, the Internet can be seen as a fundamentally democratic medium that allows people who can get online the ability to put their voices out there—though whether anyone will hear is another question. Media can also serve to monitor government, business, and other institutions. In the early s, Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered evidence of the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up, which eventually led to the resignation of then-president Richard Nixon.
Thinking more deeply, we can recognize that certain media are better at certain roles. Media have characteristics that influence how we use them. While some forms of mass media are better suited to entertainment, others make more sense as a venue for spreading information. For example, in terms of print media, books are durable and able to contain lots of information, but are relatively slow and expensive to produce. In contrast, newspapers are comparatively cheaper and quicker to create, making them a better medium for the quick turnover of daily news.
Television provides vastly more visual information than radio, and is more dynamic than a static printed page; it can also be used to broadcast live events to a nationwide audience, as in the annual State of the Union addresses given by the U. However, it is also a one-way medium—that is, it allows for very little direct person-to-person communication. In contrast, the Internet encourages public discussion of issues and allows nearly everyone who wants a voice to have one. However, the Internet is also largely unmoderated and uncurated. Users may have to wade through thousands of inane comments or misinformed amateur opinions in order to find quality information.
McLuhan emphasized that each medium delivers information in a different way and that content is fundamentally shaped by that medium. For example, although television news has the advantage of offering video and live coverage, making a story come vividly alive, it is also a faster-paced medium. That means stories get reported in different ways than print. A story told on television will often be more visual, have less information, and be able to offer less history and context than the same story covered in a monthly magazine. This feature of media technology leads to interesting arguments. Others disagree. We do not have to cast value judgments but can affirm: People who get the majority of their news from a particular medium will have a particular view of the world shaped not just by the content of what they watch but also by its medium.
The Internet has made this discussion even richer because it seems to hold all other media within it—print, radio, film, television and more. If indeed the medium is the message, the Internet provides us with an extremely interesting message to consider. Choose two different types of mass communication—radio shows, television broadcasts, Internet sites, newspaper advertisements, and so on from two different kinds of media.
Make a list of what role s each one fills, keeping in mind that much of what we see, hear, or read in the mass media has more than one aspect. Consider the following questions: Does the type of media suit the social role? Why did the creators of this particular message present it in the particular way, and in this particular medium? We have spoken easily of historical eras. Can we speak of cultural eras? It can actually be a useful concept. There are many ways to divide time into cultural eras. But for our purposes, a cultural period A time marked by a particular way of understanding the world through culture and technology. Changes in cultural periods are marked by fundamental changes in the way we perceive and understand the world.
This change in cultural period was galvanized by the printing press. In each of these cultural eras, the nature of truth had not changed. What had changed was the way that humans used available technology to make sense of the world. Using technology to make sense of the world? You likely can anticipate that for the purpose of studying culture and mass media, the modern and postmodern ages are some of the most exciting and relevant ones to explore, eras in which culture and technology have intersected like never before. The Modern Age The post-Medieval era; a wide span of time marked in part by technological innovations, urbanization, scientific discoveries, and globalization.
It is also referred to as modernity. The Modern Age is generally split into two parts: the early and the late modern periods. Scholars often talk of the Modern Age as modernity. During the early modern period, transportation improved, politics became more secularized, capitalism spread, nation-states grew more powerful, and information became more widely accessible. Enlightenment ideals of reason, rationalism, and faith in scientific inquiry slowly began to replace the previously dominant authority of king and church. Huge political, social, and economic changes marked the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the late modern period.
The Industrial Revolution, which began in England around , combined with the American Revolution in and the French Revolution in , indicated that the world was undergoing massive changes. The Industrial Revolution had far-reaching consequences. It did not merely change the way goods were produced—it also fundamentally changed the economic, social, and cultural framework of its time. However, during the 19th century, several crucial inventions—the internal combustion engine, steam-powered ships, and railways, among others—led to other innovations across various industries.
Suddenly, steam power and machine tools meant that production increased dramatically. But some of the biggest changes coming out of the Industrial Revolution were social in character. An economy based on manufacturing instead of agriculture meant that more people moved to cities, where techniques of mass production led to an emphasis on efficiency both in and out of the factory. Newly urbanized factory laborers no longer had the skill or time to produce their own food, clothing, or supplies and instead turned to consumer goods. Increased production led to increases in wealth, though income inequalities between classes also started to grow as well.
Increased wealth and nonrural lifestyles led to the development of entertainment industries. Life changed rapidly. It is no coincidence that the French and American Revolutions happened in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. The huge social changes created changes in political systems and thinking. In both France and America, the revolutions were inspired by a rejection of a monarchy in favor of national sovereignty and representative democracy. Both revolutions also heralded the rise of secular society, as opposed to church-based authority systems.
Democracy was well-suited to the so-called Age of Reason, with its ideals of individual rights and its belief in progress. Media were central to these revolutions. As we have seen, the fusing of steam power and the printing press enabled the explosive expansion of books and newspapers. Literacy rates rose, as did support for public participation in politics. More and more people lived in the city, had an education, got their news from the newspaper, spent their wages on consumer goods, and identified themselves as citizens of an industrialized nation. Urbanization, mass literacy, and new forms of mass media contributed to a sense of mass culture that united people across regional, social, and cultural boundaries.
A last note on the terminology for the cultural era of the Modern Age or modernity: A similar term—modernism—also has come into use. However, modernism is a term for an artistic, cultural movement, rather than era. It celebrated subjectivity through abstraction, experimentalism, surrealism, and sometimes pessimism or even nihilism. If you go on to graduate study in almost any field in the humanities or social sciences, you will eventually encounter texts debating the postmodern era. While the exact definition and dates of the postmodern era A cultural period that began during the second half of the 20th century and was marked by skepticism, self-consciousness, celebration of difference, and the reappraisal of modern conventions.
Modernity—the Modern Age—took for granted scientific rationalism, the autonomous self, and the inevitability of progress. The postmodern age questioned or dismissed many of these assumptions. If the modern age valued order, reason, stability, and absolute truth, the postmodern age reveled in contingency, fragmentation, and instability. The aftermath of World War II, the Holocaust, the Cold War, the digitization of culture, the rise of the Internet, and numerous other factors fed into the skepticism and self-consciousness of the postmodern era. Remember, this is a thought experiment, and is not real.
Both potential states are equally true. Although the thought experiment was devised to explore issues in quantum physics, it appealed to postmodernists in its assertion of radical uncertainty. What is reality? Rather than being an absolute objective truth, accessible by rational procedures and experimentation, the status of reality was contingent, and depended on the observer. Novelists and poets, for example, embraced this new approach to reality. The emphasis was not on the all-knowing author but instead on the reader. But the postmodern era called into question the sorts of theories that claimed to explain everything at once. The postmodern age, Lyotard theorized, was one of micro-narratives instead of grand narratives—that is, a multiplicity of small, localized understandings of the world, none of which can claim an ultimate or absolute truth.
The diversity of human experience also was a marked feature of the postmodern world. William S. Everything belongs to the inspired and dedicated thief. They belong to anyone who can use them. Loot the Louvre! Vive le sol long live the sun -pure, shameless, total. We are not responsible. Steal anything in sight. Its title and many of its lyrics are taken from numerous sources across cultures, eras and fields. Draw a Venn diagram of the two cultural periods discussed at length in this chapter.
Make a list of the features, values, and events that mark each period. Is there any overlap? How do they differ? Each cultural era is marked by changes in technology. When radio was invented, people predicted the end of newspapers. When television was invented, people predicted the end of radio and film. Such actions are enabled by media convergence The process by which previously distinct technologies come to share content, tasks, and resources.
A cell phone that also takes pictures and video is an example of the convergence of digital photography, digital video, and cellular telephone technologies. A news story that originally appeared in a newspaper and now is published on a website or pushed on a mobile phone is another example of convergence. Media theorist Henry Jenkins has devoted a lot of time to thinking about convergence. Jenkins breaks convergence down into five categories:. Cultural convergence has several different aspects. One important component is stories flowing across several kinds of media platforms—for example, novels that become television series Dexter or Friday Night Lights ; radio dramas that become comic strips The Shadow ; even amusement park rides that become film franchises Pirates of the Caribbean.
The character Harry Potter exists in books, films, toys, amusement park rides, and candy bars. Another aspect of cultural convergence is participatory culture A culture in which media consumers are able to annotate, comment on, remix, and otherwise respond to culture. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Americans aged 8 to 18 spend more than 7. These statistics highlight some of the aspects of the new digital model of media consumption: participation and multitasking. Instead, they are sending text messages to friends, linking news articles on Facebook, commenting on YouTube videos, writing reviews of television episodes to post online, and generally engaging with the culture they consume.
Convergence has also made multitasking much easier, as many devices allow users to surf the Internet, listen to music, watch videos, play games, and reply to emails and texts on the same machine. However, this multitasking is still quite new and we do not know how media convergence and immersion are shaping culture, people, and individual brains. Carr worries that the vast array of interlinked information available through the Internet is eroding attention spans and making contemporary minds distracted and less capable of deep, thoughtful engagement with complex ideas and arguments.
He mourns the change in his own reading habits. In other words, multitasking makes us do a greater number of things poorly. Whatever the ultimate cognitive, social, or technological results, though, convergence is changing the way we relate to media today. When was the last time you used a rotary phone? How about a payphone on a street? When you need brief, factual information, when was the last time you reached for a handy volume of Encyclopedia Britannica? Maybe never. All of these habits, formerly common parts of daily life, have been rendered essentially obsolete through the progression of convergence. Take cassette tapes and Polaroid film, for example. The underground music tastemaker Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth recently claimed that he only listens to music on cassette.
Several iPhone apps promise to apply effects to photos to make them look more like Polaroids. Cassettes, Polaroids, and other seemingly obsolete technologies have been able to thrive—albeit in niche markets—both despite and because of Internet culture. Instead of being slick and digitized, cassette tapes and Polaroid photos are physical objects that are made more accessible and more human, according to enthusiasts, because of their flaws.
The distinctive Polaroid look—caused by uneven color saturation, under- or over-development, or just daily atmospheric effects on the developing photograph—is emphatically analog. Media theorist Henry Jenkins identifies the five kinds of convergence as the following:. Make a list of points, examples, and facts that back up the theory that you think best explains the effects of convergence. Alternatively, come up with your own theory of how convergence is changing individual and society as a whole. Stage a mock debate with a member of the class who holds a view different from your own. The idea that ordinary citizens with no special resources, expertise, or political power—like Paine himself—could sound off, reach wide audiences, even spark revolutions, was brand-new to the world.
In all eras, cultural values shape the way media are created, used, and controlled. How do cultural values shape our media and mass communication? And how, in turn, do media and mass communication shape our values? The U. Thanks to the First Amendment and subsequent statutes, the United States has some of the broadest protections on speech of any industrialized nation. We can see the value that American culture places on free speech. However, speech and the press are not always free—cultural values have placed limits and those limits, like values, have shifted over time.
Obscenity, for example, has not often been tolerated. Drawing together performers from Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the UK, Tariro was a devised play showcasing perspectives on Zimbabwe and seeking to provoke debate. As the two-month devising process began, the influence of the media became clear. We hadn't seen Mugabe as a hero. We didn't know the history the way they did. In order to have meaningful action, we needed to get the story straight. This longlisted article was published on 23 July Professional longlist How much influence can the media have in Africa? Theme: The role of the media.
Thu 23 Jul Topics Professional longlist The media is a fundamental agent of socialization whose operations are very basic compared to other agents such as schools, families and religious groups. The internet has got different form s of socialization such as facebook and twitter that have completely revolutionalized the way people socialize in recent times. Apart from the internet, other media agents that have become very fundamental in socializati0on include the radio, newspapers, magazines and tabloids just to mention a few. Through these media agents, ideas and opinions can be shared and exchanged. The internet has emerged to be very the most powerful audio-visual medium since it can now be accessed by many people across the world.
Through the internet, one is able to influence others or be influenced by other people who use the internet to share and exchange their opinions. The television is another media agent that has really enhanced socialization in many ways Siapera The television gives people a good platform to give their opinions on various topics and issues affecting the human life. The opinions shared on the television reach a large number of people because the television is a mass media that is capable of reaching a large audience. The media is often rapid and interactive and is a perfect socialization agent for young people who watch the television most of time compared to the elderly people.
Since the youth form the majority of the audience, many media houses are always smart enough to present topics and programs that appeal to the young people. Media houses have the power to manipulate their audience in a skillful manner for the audience to buy into their ideas and messages. The media is able to make some product to look appealing to the general public an example being the status one would acquire if they possessed the latest cell phone in the market Siapera The mass media has become very vital agent in the development of children and the behavior of adults.
Although the mass media has some negative influences on the audience, its benefits tend to override the negatives. There are some programs on the television that have useful information like the teachings of some foreign languages that are essential for social interaction. Programs that teach languages are very beneficial to both the children and adults in international socialization. Other programs enable children to be creative and dynamic in their thinking. These programs enable both children and adults to be more knowledgeable and affect their way of doing things.
It is therefore very important for parents and guardian to be weary of the type of programs their children watch because some programs can end up having a negative influence on them. Programs with vulgar language and violence should be avoided by children because they can influence them negatively. Different networks have really affected the sense of reality in our society. Internet networks have continued to depict some issues that are out of touch from the reality Siapera The issue of stereotypes that has been mentioned in this paper has greatly been cultivated by networks.
People who get information about certain types of people and cultures without the real experience can end up having a wrong impression about a particular race, culture or region that is contrary to the reality of the situation on the ground. Networks have affected our culture by highlighting some cultures as being primitive and in the process prompting the people to have a cultural shift. In conclusion, it is important to note that the media has a very important role in shaping our culture. The media has promoted globalization and in the end people from different nationalities and cultures are able to exchange values and ideas that are beneficial to their lives. The mass media and the internet have greatly contributed to cultural construction of many societies across the world and therefore making them to become very important agents of socialization.
The mass media agents such as the television, internet, films and radio have been very instrumental in promoting socialization by providing a perfect platform exchanging ideas and opinions in various issues that affect life. Networks have also been able to affect different cultures across the world.