• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Do the Media have the power to shape public opinion?

Extracts from this document...


Do the Media have the power to shape public opinion? With the rise of the mass media throughout the world, predominantly the Western world, the issue of media influence has become a serious one. With state and capitalist controlled media industries throughout the world how can we be sure that what we are being told is accurate or even true at all? The many forms of media only serve to accentuate such influences; Rupert Murdoch for example owns a huge portion of the British media industry. With his obvious personal interests and huge influential powers is there really anyway of being certain that the media are not just projecting his personal slant upon reality to ensure civil obedience to serve his capitalist interests. The same is true of state controlled media such as in China where people are exposed to only Chinese propaganda. Such issues have created heated debate throughout the world and many theories of how influential media influence is have been proposed. Adorno and Horkheimer developed the theory of a 'Culture Industry', which they believe has lead to the usurpation of public opinion. People's actions are shrewdly influenced by their own subscription to this industry leaving no room for autonomous thought or action. Habermas developed the theory of the 'public sphere' in which people can talk freely of public interest matters such as politics. This freedom has been suppressed by the culture industry. A more recent, but similarly critical account of the media is proposed by Baudrillard who believes the mass media are 'all-powerful, coning the phrase 'hyperreality' which, when summarised basically means that the media no longer represents the outside world, there is no 'reality' as such, instead the media 'redefines what the world in which we live actually is'.[1]coba bar sebabaw orba bak inba foba ba. A more positive view based upon a similar idea to that of Habermas is that of John Thompson who analyses the links between industrialisation and the media. ...read more.


With our living rooms we are beamed images of wars, humanitarian crises, political developments, basically anything that is happening in the world as attainable on film. This is the process in which representations of things come to replace the things being represented, representations become more important than the "real thing". Baudrillard argues that today we only experience prepared realities such as edited war footage, meaningless acts of terrorism, the Jerry Springer Show. Baudrillard writes 'The very definition of the real has become: that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction. The real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is always already reproduced: that is the hyperreal. . . which is entirely in simulation.'[4] acidicburn83, please do not redistribute this paper. We work very hard to create this website, and we trust our visitors to respect it for the good of other students. Please, do not circulate this paper elsewhere on the internet. Anybody found doing so will be permanently banned. Hyperreality is conducted through simulacra, which are symbols such as television images which have no relation to reality instead they simulate a simulation, they are 'grounded in an external reality'[5] These include television programmes and computer games which seem to have had a profound impact upon children's perception of the world. Critics of Baudrillard state that he fails to take into account the benefits that modern technology has create such as the Internet and entertainment value of both TV and computer games. By insinuating that the media are attempting to deceive the general public he is forgetting that the general public must actually subscribe to viewing/listening/reading their media so, to some extent, they must contain things which the public want to be exposed to. Though it is true that most all media there is an underlying interest but what does one make of the BBC, which strives to provide a neutral, public service? ...read more.


Miller examined voter intentions a month before the election to see whether the propaganda that was printed in the run up to the election would have an effect. He found that the people who had been floating voters had been affected and as a result caused a swing that secured a victory for Mrs Thatcher. Although one can never be sure that it really was the medias influence that caused the swing to the right, if we are to accept that it was then one could say how the media basically moulded public opinion to their interests and secured a their desired result. When the margins are small then media influence can be crucial to determining which direction the result will go. It would seem that none of the evidence or proposals discussed above have enough credibility for me to conclude that the media really do have the power to shape public opinion. The critical theories of the Frankfurt school appear to be blinded by their Marxist ideology and unable see past the capitalist aspect of the media industry. More modern theories such as Thompson and Baudrillard propose new and novel concepts to explain media influence but still fail to substantiate such claims with conclusive empirical support. Of the empirical studies outlined, none of them go far enough to address the issue at hand. This is an intrinsic problem to such an question, no matter what research is conducted one can never know for certain what influences what and to what extent. Correlation might be indicative but that is really as far as we can take such issues. As subjects living within the realms of the media perhaps we are, as Adorno and Horkheimer believe, manipulated by the mass media making us unable to see the problems because of the brainwashing effects. Nevertheless we should remain cautious of anyone who purports that the media really do shape public opinion as it would seem that there is no possible way to substantiate such claims. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Media section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Media essays

  1. Does violence in the media effect peoples behaviours and opinions?

    This extract therefore blames peer pressures as the blame to increasing crime, not violence in the media as the first extract suggests. 5. Do you think that censorship and the watershed hours are a good solution for protecting children from explicit scenes & Why?

  2. Moral Panic and media folk devils.

    Black Sabbath heavy metal album backwards it would reveal a satanic ritual which you could perform. This was not the case and the claim was ridiculous as even if it were true it was unlikely you would play the disc backwards anyway.

  1. To what extent do the media effects an individual's self-identity?

    For example, domestic violence, child abuse and rape. Although, even in the light of these changes, Ferguson still feels that the message is still being reinforced, that women should identify with this femininity that focuses on 'Him, Home and looking good'.

  2. How might a sociologist account for the high incidence of eating disorders among women?

    The experiment was conducted again with a group of modelling students and similar, though less severe, results were found. 'As Garfinkel and Garner point out, these percentages reflect the fact that in an environment in which thinness per se is a premium for success, the rate of anorexia nervosa is

  1. Popular American Culture - Beauty in the Media. America heavily relies on mass ...

    Back then also, pale skin was more preferred than tanned skin because a person who appeared to have a dark tone skin indicated he or she is laborer working in the field. In the media today, tanned skin indicated that the person is of higher status because of the quality leisure time he or she spent into tanning.

  2. How is Crime represented in the Media

    After this, interest will tend to weaken although some particularly newsworthy offences will maintain national media interest for some time. The factors that determine the level of press interest will vary from case to case and depend partly upon the coverage of other news events.

  1. To what extent does the Media affect body image in teens and their perception ...

    By repetitively using the same figure of model, this will also stay in the sub-conscious mind of the audience. This technique of advertising is called subliminal messaging. When subliminal messages are first seen or heard, we are unable to identify what it is.

  2. How Media, Advertising and Celebrity Culture Affects Female Body Image

    Women will often see these images of blemish-free, smooth-skinned, skinny models without knowing the extent of the editing and manipulation that has gone into the photo, aspiring to this level of perfection and buying into the product with the hope that they too will look the same.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work