Term papers writing service


Influence of media on the public behavior sociology essay

After studying this section, you should be able to understand: It is argued that such media content exerts an overwhelmingly negative effect on impressionable young audiences. These beliefs have led to increased state control over and censorship of the media in Britain.

KEY POINT - Sociologists have argued that media content can have a direct effect upon their audiences and trigger particular social responses in terms of behaviour and attitudes. Gerbner 2002 sees a cause-effect relationship between screen violence and real-life violence.

Some feminist sociologists, e. Dworkin 1988 and Morgan 1980 have suggested that there is a strong relationship between the consumption of pornography and sexual crime. Orbach 1991 and Wolf 1990 argue that there is a causal link between representation of US size zero models in magazines and eating disorders. Norris 1996claims that media coverage of political issues can influence voting behaviour.

Some early Marxist commentators, particularly those belonging to the Frankfurt School, such as Marcuse 1964believed that the media transmitted a mass culture which was directly injected into the hearts and minds of the population making them more vulnerable to ruling class propaganda.

The Role and Influence of Mass Media

The hypodermic model of media violence The hypodermic syringe approach to media effects believes that a direct correlation exists between the violence and anti-social behaviour portrayed in films, on television, in computer games, in rap lyrics, etc. The model suggests that children and teenagers are vulnerable to media content because they are still in the early stages of socialisation and therefore very impressionable.

Imitation or copycat violence Early studies of the relationship between the media and violence focused on conducting experiments in laboratories, e.

They concluded on the basis of this experiment that violent media content could lead to imitation or copycat violence. Desensitisation Newson argued that sadistic images in films were too easily available and that films encouraged viewers to identify with violent perpetrators rather than victims. Furthermore, Newson noted that children and teenagers are subjected to thousands of killings and acts of violence as they grow up through viewing television and films.

Newson suggested that such prolonged exposure to media violence may have a drip-drip effect on young people over the course of their childhood and result in their becoming desensitised to violence. Newson argues that they see violence as a normal problem-solving device and concluded that, because of this, the latest generation of young people subscribe to weaker moral codes and are more likely to behave in anti-social ways than previous generations. The BBFC also came under increasing pressure to censor films released to British cinemas by insisting on the film makers making cuts relating to bad language, scenes of drug use and violence.

Television too was affected by this climate of censorship. Television channels often resorted to issuing warnings before films and even edited out violence themselves or beeped over bad language. Critique of the hypodermic syringe model A number of critiques have developed of the imitation-desensitisation model of media effects, e. This is known as catharsis.

They suggest that watching an exciting film releases aggressive energy into safe outlets as the viewers immerse themselves in the action. Young 1981argues that seeing the effects of violence and especially the pain and suffering that it causes to the victim and their families, may make us more aware of its consequences and so less inclined to commit violent acts.

Sensitisation to certain crimes therefore may make people more aware and responsible so that they avoid getting involved in violence. The methodological critique of the hypodermic syringe model Gauntlett 2008 argues that people, especially children, do not behave as naturally under laboratory conditions as they would in their everyday environment, e.

There are different types of media violence such as in cartoons, images of war and death on news bulletins and sporting violence. It is unclear whether these different types of violence have the same or different effects upon their audiences or whether different audiences react differently to different types and levels of violence. The effects model has been criticised because it tends to be selective in its approach to media violence, i.

The effects model also fails to put violence into context, e. Research influence of media on the public behavior sociology essay Morrison suggests that the context in which screen violence occurs affects its impact on the audience. Some sociologists believe that children are not as vulnerable as the hypodermic syringe model implies, e.

Related Sociology documents

Sociologists are generally very critical of the hypodermic syringe model because it fails to recognise that audiences have very different social characteristics in terms of age, maturity, social class, education, family background, parental controls, etc.

These characteristics will influence how people respond to and use media content. Cumberbatch 2004 looked at over 3500 research studies into the effects of screen violence, encompassing film, television, video and more recently, computer and video games.

They believe that people have considerable choice in the way they use and interpret the media. There are various versions of this view, outlined on the next page. The two-step flow model Katz and Lazarsfeld 1965 suggest that personal relationships and conversations with significant others, such as family members, friends, teachers and work colleagues, result in people modifying or rejecting media messages.

They argue that social networks are usually dominated by opinion leaders, i. These people usually have strong ideas about a range of matters. Moreover, these opinion leaders expose themselves to different types of media and form an opinion on their content. These interpretations are then passed on to other members of their social circle.

  • This includes television, radio, advertising, movies, the Internet, newspapers, magazines, and so forth;
  • Advocates of this view concern themselves particularly with massive corporate mergers of media organizations, which limit competition and put big business at the reins of media—especially news media;
  • They believe that people have considerable choice in the way they use and interpret the media.

Katz and Lazarsfeld suggest that media messages have to go through two steps or stages. The opinion leader is exposed to the media content. Those who respect the opinion leader internalise their interpretation of that content. Rather, they choose to adopt a particular opinion, attitude and way of behaving after negotiation and discussion with an opinion leader.

The audience is, therefore, not passive, but active. However, critics of this model point out two problems. There is no guarantee that the opinion leader has not been subjected to an imitative or desensitising effect, e. People who may be most at risk of being influenced by the media may be socially isolated individuals who are not members of any social network and so do not have access to an opinion leader who might help interpret media content in a healthy way.

The Role and Influence of Mass Media

The selective filter model In his selective filter model, Klapper 1960 suggests that, for a media message to have any effect, it must pass through three filters. Selective exposure — the audience must choose to view, read or listen to the content of specific media. Media messages can have no effect if no one sees or hears them. However, what the audience chooses depends upon their interests, education, work commitments and so on.

Selective perception — the audience may not accept the message; some people may take notice of some media content, but decide to reject or ignore others. However, research indicates that most people have a tendency to remember only the things they broadly agree with. The uses and gratifications model Blumler and McQuail 1968 and Lull 1995 see media audiences as active. Their uses and gratifications model suggests that people use the media in order to satisfy particular social needs that they have, e.

Wood 1993 illustrated how teenagers may use horror films to gratify their need for excitement.

  • Television too was affected by this climate of censorship;
  • Furedi therefore argues that moral panics are about the wider concerns that the older generation have about the nature of society today — people see themselves and their families as at greater risk from a variety of groups.

Blumler and McQuail identify four basic needs which people use the media to satisfy. Diversion — people may immerse themselves in particular types of media to make up for the lack of satisfaction at work or in their daily lives, e. Some people even have alternative lives and identities as avatars on websites such as Second Life. Personal relationships — media products such as soap operas may compensate for the decline of community in our lives, e. Cyber-communities on the Internet may also be seen by users as alternative families.

Social networking websites, such as Facebook, allow people to use the media to present their particular identities to the wider world in a way that they can control.

Surveillance — people use the media to obtain information and news in order to help them make up their minds on particular issues. The reception analysis model The reception analysis model suggests that media content is not passively accepted as truth by audiences. Morley concluded that people choose to read or interpret media content in three ways. The preferred or dominant reading accepts the media content as legitimate, e.

This dominant reading is often shared by journalists and editors, and underpins news values. The oppositional reading opposes the views expressed in media content. The negotiated reading whereby the audience reinterpret the media content to fit in with their own opinions and values, e.

  1. Reception analysis theory therefore suggests that audiences are not passive, impressionable and homogeneous.
  2. This includes television, radio, advertising, movies, the Internet, newspapers, magazines, and so forth. Sociologists are generally very critical of the hypodermic syringe model because it fails to recognise that audiences have very different social characteristics in terms of age, maturity, social class, education, family background, parental controls, etc.
  3. Mass media makes possible the concept of celebrity.
  4. Mass media is a significant force in modern culture, particularly in America.
  5. Desensitisation Newson argued that sadistic images in films were too easily available and that films encouraged viewers to identify with violent perpetrators rather than victims. Norris 1996 , claims that media coverage of political issues can influence voting behaviour.

Reception analysis theory therefore suggests that audiences are not passive, impressionable and homogeneous. They act in a variety of subcultural ways and, for this reason, media content is polysemic, i. The cultural effects model The Marxist cultural effects model sees the media as a very powerful ideological influence that is mainly concerned with transmitting capitalist values and norms.

Marxists argue that media content contains strong ideological messages that reflect the values of those who own, control and produce the media. Marxists believe that television content, in particular, has been deliberately dumbed down and this has resulted in a decline in serious programmes such as news, documentaries and drama that might make audiences think critically about the state of the world.

Consequently, there is little serious debate about the organisation of capitalism and the social inequalities and problems that it generates. The post-modernist model Strinati 1995 argues that the media today are the most influential shapers of identity and offer a greater range of consumption choices in terms of identities and lifestyles. Moreover, in the post-modern world, the media transmit the idea that the consumption of signs and symbols for their own sake is more important than the goods they represent.

Other post-modernists have noted that, since 2000, the globalisation of communication has become more intensive and extensive, and this has had great significance for local cultures, in that all consumers of the global media are both citizens of the world and of their locality.

Seeing other global experience allows people to think critically about their own place in the world. However, Thompson notes that the interaction between global media and local cultures can also create tensions and hostilities, e. Moral panics Every now and then, the media, particularly the tabloid news media, focus on particular groups and activities and, through the style of their reporting, define these groups and influence of media on the public behavior sociology essay activities as a problem.

This focus creates public anxiety and official censure and control. What is a moral panic? It refers to media reactions to particular social groups and activities that are defined as threatening social consensus. The reporting creates anxiety or moral panic amongst the general population which puts pressure on the authorities to control the problem and discipline the group responsible.

However, the media concern is usually out of proportion to any real threat to society posed by the group or activity. Both the publicity and social reaction to the panic may create the potential for further crime and deviance in the future.

In other words, the social reaction may lead to the amplification of deviance by provoking more of the same behaviour. Influence of media on the public behavior sociology essay have been a number of moral panics in the last 30 years including: Ravers and ecstasy use — Redhead notes that a moral panic in regard to acid house raves in the late 1980s led to the police setting up roadblocks on motorways, turning up at raves in full riot gear and the Criminal Justice Act 1990 which banned illegal parties.

Influence of media on the public behavior sociology essay

Elements of the tabloid press, particularly the Daily Mail and The Sun, focused on the alleged links between asylum seekers and terrorism which created public anxiety. Why do moral panics occur?

  1. Both groups of researchers find that when people approach material, whether written text or media images and messages, they interpret that material based on their own knowledge and experience.
  2. Marxists, such as Hall, see moral panics as serving an ideological function.
  3. In other words, the social reaction may lead to the amplification of deviance by provoking more of the same behaviour. The preferred or dominant reading accepts the media content as legitimate, e.

Furedi argues that moral panics arise when society fails to adapt to dramatic social changes and it is felt that there is a loss of control, especially over powerless groups such as the young. Furedi therefore argues that moral panics are about the wider concerns that the older generation have about the nature of society today — people see themselves and their families as at greater risk from a variety of groups.

They believe that things are out of control.