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Examine reasons why the mass media may exert only a limited influence over their audience

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Introduction

Examine reasons why the mass media may exert only a limited influence over their audience Media is the way in which large companies are able to diffuse their choice of information to the public via sources such as television, newspapers and radio stations. It is evident that the media in general has become a major function in most people's lives and consequently has been blamed fir crime, abortion and the corruption of morals in society. I will attempt to evaluate to what extent the media exerts influence over their audiences by examining the media models. I believe that this is an important issue to consider as the media continues to centre the lives of many difference social groups as on a daily basis, television; radio and newspapers are widely viewed by all types of people all over the world. There are however other areas of society to consider such as influences created by our experiences, culture, family, friends, education and religion. Evidence suggesting that this type of influence takes place also supports the view that the media exerts only a limited influence as there are other factors equally as powerful. Supporting this view is the 'structured interpretation model' suggesting that people interpret texts according to factors such as their gender, class and experiences. ...read more.

Middle

An example of this is the soap Coronation Street; an old person may watch this for companionship as they may feel that they can relate to a particular character. However an older teenager may watch this soap for advice on their own relationship with their parents by viewing the consequences of particular relationships on screen between characters such as 'Sarah-Louise and Gail Platt'. A criticism that is held against this model however is that it fails to examine why exactly people have these different needs and why they choose different interpretations. Contrasting these two models altogether are the 'Hypodermic syringe' model and the 'Cultural Effects' model which both view audience as being passive and inactive. The view by Vance Packard (1957) appeared to demonstrate the mass media to be so powerful to the extent that they could 'inject' any media message they wished to into their audiences. This is known as the 'Hypodermic Syringe' model in which audiences are viewed to be passive (inactive), homogeneous (all the same) and 'blank pages' (ready to be written on). An example of this model would be a TV programme demonstrating crime in London by black youths. The Hypodermic syringe theory would suggest that all views, whatever class, gender, age or experiences would accept the dominant view presented by the media and may believe that all young, black youth from the South are criminals. ...read more.

Conclusion

Due to the strong criticisms aimed at the 'inactive audience approaches', such as the fact that they see audiences as homogeneous and vulnerable, which clearly is a false statement as it can be proven that different people interpret texts differently by David Buckingham (1993) who discovered that the ways in which people interpret media can be based on their independent level of media literacy. I personally believe that models like the Hypodermic Syringe model provide a very narrow, na�ve view towards society and underestimate the levels of diversity amongst all people as it is comprehensible that humans are not robots. However the active model approaches in my opinion, give a very realistic view of how the media can influence others as due to cultural factors, experiences, personalities and peers, we are capable as active choice makers to decide what information to accept and reject and we are fully capable of having our own personal opinions. The evidence supporting the active model approaches is quite recent, Morley 1980 and Blumler and McQuail 1968. Since then there has been no further evidence to suggest that these models portray an incorrect view of society and that actually the inactive models are more realistic. ?? ?? ?? ?? Katie Jackson 12MH 08/12/04 ...read more.

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