Assess the extent to which debates about 'culture' are actually debates about power.
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1215467 76A4 Society, Media and Culture Assignment: Monday 21st March, 2005 Tutor: Pedro Nunes (Monday 12pm Seminar) Word Count: 1656 Question 3: Assess the extent to which debates about 'culture' are actually debates about power. The Collins English Dictionary defines culture as: 'The total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge which constitute the shared bases of social action; the total range of activities and ideas of a group of people with shared traditions which are transmitted and reinforced by members of the group; the artistic and social pursuits, expression and tastes valued by a society or class; the enlightenment or refinement resulting from these pursuits. One example of a culture within our world today is Popular Culture, which is generally associated with the entertainment of the lower classes, carrying some negative connotations. Popular Culture consists of, amongst other elements, soap opera, sport, popular television and music, and in more recent years can also be thought of to incorporate the sub-culture of celebrity. Another example from the opposite end of the scale is High Culture. This is seen to be produced for, and aimed exclusively at, the upper class sector of society.
Hence 'the people' control and regulate their own government. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the media. The public do not 'own' the media, nor do they have the ability to control it. This task is left solely to a small fraction of the population, who have gained control, more often than not, by means of wealth and situation. It is these people who decide the information that the public are 'allowed' to gain access to, which incidents are worthy of reporting to them and which viewpoints they are subjected to. This small group of media leaders therefore has the ability to set the public agenda on an endless number of issues. One example that can be used to illustrate the power that the media hold over the shaping of various cultures is the televising of sporting events, particularly the showing of football matches. In recent years all forms of the media have concentrated a large portion of their coverage on sport and in particular, football. The experience of viewing a match has become so highly interactive by means of the internet and digital television that fans now have a choice of camera angle, which players they wish to focus on and instant replays of live television, all at the touch of a button.
I feel that we should not be told what we should and should not believe, or even be influenced on such matters by such a subjective organisation. Audiences should be given the right to an input on what they are consuming, what issues carry the most weight and therefore should be reported on, and what they wish to be exposed to. Traditional values of spirituality have been replaced by the media, and as a result they can now claim to have a large degree of control over the population with regards to what is perceived as 'the norm'. It may not be possible to consider such a drastic change as a media based more on a democratic structure of elected leaders than the current autocratic design that we possess today as being a realistic prospect in the foreseeable future. However, through continued coverage and debate concerning the issues raised I believe that what is a possibility is a mediated culture that concentrates on the important events that are occurring around the globe, presented in an objective manner without hidden agenda; one which does not try to alter our cultural beliefs but on the contrary, one which celebrates and respects the vast number of differences that distinguish diverse cultures. An ideologically honest media.
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