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Assess the postmodernist views of the mass media.

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Introduction

´╗┐POSTMODERNIST view of mass media. PM argue mass media are central to the PM theory, as the decline of traditional communities, time-space compression and flexible production ? all derived through the media. PM argue the global society is media-saturated, making it harder to distinguish between reality and hyper-reality, and making culture fragmented and unstable. PM challenge viewing audience as passive and easily manipulated, as they use media images to construct individual identities. The major criticism of PM is that their argument is based on abstract concepts and a lack of empirical evidence. Marxists criticise PM for ignoring inequalities in media access, and that the media messages can mislead the audiences, as the main effort behind them is maintaining profit for capitalists. PM argue the society today is media-saturated. ...read more.

Middle

PM argue the media actively create reality. BAUDRILLARD argues media images have replaced reality to such an extent that we live in hyper-reality, i.e. reality structured by electronic communication. In turn, the media present simulacra (artificial copies of real events), which is hard to differentiate from reality. There is no longer separate reality for things like TV programmes, highlighted by media stories about fictional characters. TUCKLE notes that the lives of TV characters have become more real to the audience than actual communities. For example, people felt so strongly about TV show Cheers that they created Cheers bars in America, similarly to creating Central Perk coffee shops after popularity of Friends. Moreover, the media can create realities of such major events as wars. BAUDRILLARD argues that the First Gulf War was a simulation created by the media, noting that ?the war only happened on TV?. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, PM are criticised for not being able to empirically prove the link between popular culture and creation of identities. PM conducted small scale ethnographic research, as they reject possibility of discovering objective truth about social world. However, it severely undermines their argument. In support of PM, however, neo-functionalist PUTNAM found empirical evidence to highlight the breakdown of the real world social interaction and declining social capital due to the influence of the media, and especially new media. In conclusion, PM view of the media is influential in drawing attention to the impact of the media on creation of identities and how consumption influence people?s ability to create their identities themselves. However, the major limitation of PM theory is reluctance to recognise the significance of the market forces and concentration of media ownership in understanding the media impact on the society. Moreover, PM do not acknowledge the media?s role of promoting and exacerbating inequalities among audiences. ...read more.

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