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Media Analysis Techniques

Media Analysis Techniques

Sixth Edition

April 2018 | 368 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

This book provides a concise, thought-provoking, and cleverly-written introduction to major theories in media analysis, and it gives students new perspectives on the media they use.”

—Donna Halper, Lesley University

In the Sixth Edition of Media Analysis Techniques, author Arthur Asa Berger once again provides students with a clearly written, user-friendly, hands-on guide to media criticism. The book empowers readers to make their own analyses of the media rather than just accept how others interpret the media. Media Analysis Techniques begins by examining four basic techniques of media interpretation—semiotic theory, Marxist theory, psychoanalytic theory, and sociological theory—that Berger considers critical for creative people to acknowledge if they are to understand how their creations translate to the real world. Application chapters then link popular culture to these four theories. Written in an accessible style that demystifies complex concepts, Media Analysis Techniques includes learning exercises, a glossary, study guides, and the author’s own illustrations.

New to the Sixth Edition:

  • A new chapter on discourse analysis offers students techniques for analyzing the language in texts.
  • New content on psychological impact of social media shows that there are often negative consequences to using social media.
  • Increased coverage of technology and social media helps readers apply time-tested analysis techniques to the latest media.
  • Updated examples from popular culture bring theory to life.
  • New drawings and photo images illustrate concepts and enhance the visual attractiveness of this book.
  • New material around generational differences describe to students how each generation interacts with media differently, particularly the millennials.   
  • New discussions by thinkers who have made major impacts on popular culture, such as
    • Daniel Chandler on semiotic codes
    • Michel Foucault on change in cultures
    • Mark Gottdiener on sign vehicles in semiotic theory
    • Guy Debord on the Society of Spectacle
    • Mark Thompson et al on Marx’s neglect of egalitarian political culture
    • Marcel Danesi on myth and popular culture
    • Ernest Kris on the Oedipus Complex
    • Sigmund Freud on the purposes of jokes
    • Clotaire Rapaille on the new “Global code.”
    • Teun van Dyk on discourse analysis and ideology
    • Wolfgang Iser on reception theory

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Part I. Techniques of Interpretation
Chapter 1: Semiotic Analysis
A Brief History of the Subject

The Problem of Meaning

Social Aspects of Semiotics: The Individual and Society

Saussure on the Science of Semiology


Forms of Signs

Signs and Truth

Facial Expressions as Signs


Language and Speaking

Connotation and Denotation

The Synchronic and the Diachronic

Syntagmatic Analysis

Paradigmatic Analysis


Dialogical Theory

Metaphor and Metonymy


Culture Codes

Michel Foucault on Codes

Semiotics of the Television Medium

Some Criticisms of Semiotic Analysis

A Checklist for Semiotic Analysis of Television

Chapter 2: Marxist Analysis

The Base and the Superstructure

False Consciousness


The Frankfurt School

Class Conflict


The Consumer Society

John Berger on Advertising

Bourgeois Heroes


The Problem of Media Consolidation

The Society of the Spectacle

The Danger of Being Doctrinaire

Grid-Group Analysis

Marxist Criticism in the Postmodern World

Analyzing a Text From a Marxist Perspective

Study Questions and Topics for Discussion

Annotated Bibliography

Chapter 3: Psychoanalytic Criticism
The Unconscious


William A. Rossi on Sexual Aspects of the Foot and Shoe

The Oedipus Complex

On the Importance of Myth

Media and the Oedipus Complex

Id, Ego, and Superego

The Structural Hypothesis Applied to Culture


Defense Mechanisms

Martin Grotjahn on Horror Films


Condensation and Displacement

Aggression and Guilt

Stereotypes and Aggressive Humor

Freud and Beyond

Jungian Psychoanalytic Theory

Psychoanalytic Analysis of Media: A Cautionary Note

Chapter 4: Sociological Analysis
Émile Durkheim on Our Social Nature

Some Basic Concepts


Herbert Gans and Taste Cultures

Uses and Gratifications

Genres and Formulas

Content Analysis

Chapter 5: Discourse Analysis
Defining Discourse Analysis

Teun A. Van Dijk on Discourse Analysis

Spoken and Written Discourse

Styles and Written Discourse

Political Ideologies and Discourse Analysis

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA)

Advertising and Critical Discourse Analysis

Multimodal Discourse Analysis (MDA)

Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis (MCDA)

A Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis of an Advertisement


Part II. Applications
Chapter 6: Murderers on the Orient Express
Organizing a Mystery

Detectives as Semioticians

Social and Political Dimensions

Poirot as Revolutionary

Chapter 7: Seven Points on the Game of Football (And Some Interesting Statistics)
Football Is a Game of Signs

Instant Replay and the Modern Sensibility

Football Socializes Us

Statistics on Televised Football

Why Baseball Is Boring

Football as an Alternative to Religion

The Marxist Perspective

Football and the Psyche

Concluding Remarks

Chapter 8: The Maiden with the Snake: Interpretations of a Print Advertisement
Signs in Signs: A Primer on Applied Semiotics

The Maiden in Paradise: A Case Study

A Paradigmatic Analysis of the Fidji Advertisement

Using the Myth Model

Psychoanalytic Aspects of the Fidji Text

An Aside on Moisturizers and Anxiety

Final Comments on Perfume and Anxiety

Chapter 9: All-News Radio and the American Bourgeoisie
News and Alienation

News and Ruling-Class Ideology

Commercials and Anxiety

Caught in the Middle

News and Conversation

News from the Internet and Social Media

Chapter 10: Video Games: A New Art Form
An Investigation of MMO’s

Are Video Games an Art Form or a Medium?

New Technologies and Video Games

Janet Murray on Interactivity and Immersion

Video Games and Addiction

Video Games and the Problem of Violence

Social and Physical Problems Caused by Video Games

Video Games and Sexuality


Chapter 11: Cell Phones, Social Media, and the Problem of Identity
An Epiphany

The Internet

Media Use by 8- to 18-Year-Olds

Social Media

A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Youth and Social Media

The Cell Phone as Sign: A Semiotic Perspective

Marxist Perspectives on Cell Phones


Epilogue: Shmoos and Analysis
Appendix: Simulations, Activities, Games, and Exercises
Author Index
Subject Index
About the Author

For instructors

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