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Each day, the average American TV set is turned on more than 7 hours a day.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Each day, the average American TV set is turned on more than 7 hours a day. Each family member watches more than 3 hours a day, with the elderly and children watching the most. It is true that there are more Americans with televisions than there are with indoor plumbing. Try to imagine a world with no television. It is nearly impossible for most Americans to conceive of. The truth is, we have turned into a society that heavily depends on technology to thrive. I think it is safe to say that the television set is really like a member of the family. It entertains, provides information, enlightens, tells stories and acts as a companion for many people. It is the "Wholesale distributor of images and forms the main stream of our pop culture." (Gerbner, 1972). Television is unique from other media sources in its ability to share common cultural norms with virtually all members of society. It is no surprise that people spend more time with TV than with any other media source. Like anything, spending a lot of time watching television has to have its effects. George Gerbner's cultivation theory sets out to explain how television viewing affects our attitudes, beliefs and worldview. Cultivation theory, (sometime referred to as cultivation hypothesis or cultivation analysis) was an approach developed by Professor George Gerbner, dean of the Annenberg school of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania. Cultivation is the teaching of a common worldview, common roles, and common values. ...read more.

Middle

There are far more victims portrayed on TV than actual criminals. Violence on TV promotes social control, but not in the sense that it makes people violent. Rather, the fear that is cultivated by viewing violence is a form of social control. Some would argue that the real world is violent so people should have fear. This argument would make sense if violent killing were the number one killer in this country. The cause of real-world injuries such as traffic and industrial accidents can be hard to find in the world of television. Television violence has more to do with real-world power than it does real-world violence. The problem is not that some people are made overly paranoid by television violence, but rather the danger identified by cultivation is more on the social level. Gerbner and Gross argue that a heightened sense of fear, danger and apprehension can cause people to think there is a stronger need for security. "This in turn can mean that greater legitimacy of authority that can promise to meet those demands, creating conditions highly conducive to repression and undermining the support of civil liberties." (Shannahan and Morgan, 1999). This can also cause a greater acceptance of the use of violence to solve international affairs. Proponents of the Cultivation Theory attempt to show how television cultivates a homogenous outlook on life, revealing a lack of diversity among heavy viewers. The idea is that heavy viewing, regardless of viewer demographic, creates an assumption in the viewer, that violence is more prevalent than it actually is. ...read more.

Conclusion

Interacting factors such as developmental stages, viewing experience, general knowledge, gender, ethnicity, viewing contexts, family attitudes and socio-economic background all contribute to shaping the ways in which television is interpreted by viewers. When the viewer has some direct lived experience of the subject matter this may tend to reduce any cultivation effect. Cultivation research does avoid the artificiality of laboratory experiments. It is based on normal viewing over a long period but it is subject to the usual criticisms of both content analysis and surveys. Cultivation Theory also suggests that people are unable to form their own opinions. It suggests that people are a giant class of trained subjects that lacks the ability to form an opinion. Different people are able to view the same program and come up with different opinions or reactions to it. Today it seems as if everyone is a critic. If this is true, how can we not argue with the cultivation theory in insisting that viewers make their own ideas on the form of media? Cultivation Theory also tends to skip out of the positive aspects of television viewing. There are no studies that show the benefits of television viewing. Overall, Cultivation Theory has made a major impact in the way we study media effects today. It is impossible for any one theory to be 100% correct and not have its criticisms. It is very interesting to see how we are affected on an unconscious level. It will be even more interesting to see where the research goes with the advancement of technology and new innovations. In the end, Cultivation Theory does a good job explaining the effects of television viewing on our worldview, perceptions and opinions. ...read more.

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