Media, Culture and Society
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Media, Culture and Society

An Introduction



© 2011 | 336 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
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'In his beautifully balanced, clear and broad-ranging account of a fast-changing field, Paul Hodkinson has successfully brought together myriad perspectives with which to critically analyse today's media culture and media society' - Sonia Livingstone, Professor of Media & communication, LSE

Clearly organized, systematic and combining a critical survey of the field with a finely judged assessment of cutting edge developments, this book provides a 'must have' contribution to media and communication studies.

The text is organized into three distinctive parts, which fall neatly into research and teaching requirements: Elements of the Media (which covers media technologies, the organization of the media industry, media content and media users); Media, Power and Control (which addresses questions of the media and manipulation, the construction of news, public service broadcasting, censorship, commercialization); and Media, Identity and Culture (which covers issues of the media and ethnicity, gender, subcultures, audiences and fans).

The book is notable for:

• Logical and coherent organization

• Clarity of expression

• Use of relevant examples

• Fair minded criticism

• Zestful powers of analysis

It has all of the qualities to be adopted as core introductory text in the large and buoyant field of media and communication studies.

1. Introduction
Media, Culture, Society  
Starting Points: Shaping, Mirroring and Re-Presenting  
The Communication Process  
Transmitters, Receivers and Noise  
'Who Says What...?' and Other Questions  
Linear and One-Dimensional  
Elements of Media in Sociocultural Context  
Media, Power and Control  
Media, Identity and Culture  
Making Connections  
PART ONE: ELEMENTS OF MEDIA
2. Media Technologies
Introduction  
Contrasting Medium Theories  
McLuhan: The Medium Is the Message  
Kill Your Television  
Technological Determinism  
Hot, Cool or Both?  
Generalization and Reification  
Technologies and Social Contexts  
Capacities and Constraints  
Into the Digital Age  
Convergence  
Interactivity  
Mobility  
The Internet: A Cure for Social Ills?  
Conclusion: Technologies in Context  
3. Media Industry
Introduction  
Media Organizations  
Commercial Ownership  
Concentration of Ownership = Concentration of Ideas?  
The Bottom Line: Sources of Revenue  
Advertising Revenue  
Direct Audience Payments  
Payments between Media Companies  
Maximizing Audiences  
The Role of Sponsors  
Governments and Regulation  
Access Restrictions  
Ownership Restrictions  
Content Regulation  
Deregulation  
Supporting the Industry: Copyright  
Conclusion: Economic Determinism?  
4. Media Content
Introduction  
Media Texts as Arrangements of Signs  
Signs as Arbitrary?  
Levels of Meaning  
Signs as Relational  
Uncovering Mythology  
Limitations of Semiology  
Narrative, Genre and Discourse Analysis  
Narrative Analysis  
Genre Analysis  
Discourse Analysis  
From Quality to Quantity: Content Analysis  
'Systematic, Objective and Quantitative'  
Categories and Coding  
Population and Sample  
Case Study: Gerbner and Television Violence  
Limitations of Content Analysis  
Conclusion: Putting Texts into Context  
5. Media Users
Introduction  
U S Empirical Traditions of Audience Research  
Effects Research  
Limited Effects and Two-Step Flow  
Uses and Gratifications  
Functionalist and Complacent?  
Cultural Studies: Dominant and Oppositional Readings  
Encoding, Decoding and Preferred Meanings  
Social Context and Differential Readings  
Audiences as Cultural Producers  
Ethnographies of Audiences, Fans and Users  
Conclusion: An Uncritical Celebration?  
PART TWO: MEDIA, POWER AND CONTROL
6. Media as Manipulation? Marxism and Ideology
Introduction  
Marxism and Ideology: Basics  
The Culture Industry as Mass Deception  
Unsupported Elitism?  
Ideological Meanings  
Beyond Marx's Materialism  
Case Study: Consumerist Myths  
Political Economy and Ideology  
Manufacturing Consent  
Cultural Imperialism as Globalization of Ideology  
Arguments and Criticisms  
Political Economic versus Cultural Approaches  
Complex Communication Flows and Consumer Resistance  
Conclusion: Avoiding Easy Dismissals  
7. The Construction of News
Introduction  
Selection, Gatekeeping and Agenda-Setting  
News Values  
Case Study: September 11th 2001  
Constructing Stories  
Differences between News Providers  
Medium  
Style and Market Position  
Political Stance  
Similarities: Back to Bias and Ideology?  
Class Bias  
Institutional Bias  
Infotainment and Depoliticization  
Conclusion: Bad News?  
8. Public Service or Personal Entertainment? Controlling Media Orientation
Introduction  
Public Service Broadcasting (PSB)  
Reith and the BBC  
Differing PSB Arrangements  
Developing PSB Principles  
Enabling or Imposing?  
Censorship: Preventing Harm and Offence  
Avoiding Majority (and Minority) Offence  
Pornography  
Violence  
Preventing Harm or Inhibiting Freedom?  
Commercial Competition and Consumer Choice  
Neo-Liberal Approaches  
US Broadcasting: A Free Market Model  
A Toaster with Pictures: The Decline of Regulation  
Conclusion: A Rosy Commercial Future?  
9. Decline of the National Public: Commercialization, Fragmentation and Globalization
Introduction  
Media and the Public Sphere  
Habermas' Public Sphere  
Media and Public Engagement  
Nation as 'Imagined Community'  
Decline of the Public Sphere  
From Facilitators to Shapers  
Commercially Driven Content  
Digital Dilution of the Nation  
Fragmentation  
Globalization  
The Internet: Interactive but Fragmented  
Conclusion: National Public - Good Riddance?  
PART THREE: MEDIA, IDENTITY AND CULTURE
10. Media, Ethnicity and Diaspora
Introduction  
Racism and Exclusion  
Representation  
Under-Representation  
Stereotypical Representations  
The Reproduction of Subordination  
Promoting 'Positive' Images  
Reversing Stereotypes of Passivity  
Successful, Well Adjusted, Integrated  
The Burden of Representation  
New Ethnicities and Diaspora  
New Ethnicities  
Diaspora  
Representing Diaspora  
Audience Segregation  
Newspapers, Video and Global Bollywood  
Digital Specialization  
Online Diaspora  
Conclusion: Empowerment or Ghettoization?  
11. Media, Gender and Sexuality
Introduction  
Constructions of Femininity  
Female Marginalization  
The Male Gaze  
Patriarchal Romance and Domesticity  
Post-Feminist Independence?  
The Enduring Gaze  
Elitist Critics?  
Empowering Possibilities  
Reading the Romance  
Subversive Pleasures?  
From Consumers to Producers  
Remaining Critical  
Media and Masculinities  
Masculinity or Masculinities?  
Lads' Mags and Contradictory Representations  
Beyond Heterosexuality  
Conclusion: A Balanced Approach  
12. Media Communities: Subcultures, Fans and Identity Groups
Introduction  
Media versus Community  
Homogenization and Atomization  
Resisting Mass Culture (and Media): Youth Subcultures  
Moral Panic and Mass Media Stigmatization  
Targeting Community  
Local Media  
Niche Magazines and Consumer Groupings  
Niche Digital Media  
DIY Media and Internet Communication  
Fanzines  
Online Micro-Communication  
Virtual Community  
Communities or Individuals?  
Conclusion: All about Definitions  
13. Saturation, Fluidity and Loss of Meaning
Introduction  
Saturation as Loss of Meaning  
Consumerism: Expansion and Speed-up  
Information Overload  
Media = Reality  
From Truth, to Ideology, to Simulacra  
Celebrity Culture as Hyperreal  
Identity: Fragmentation and Fluidity  
Recycling and Pastiche  
The Internet as Virtual Playground  
Simulated Identity?  
Internet as Extension of Everyday Life  
Case Study: Social Networking Sites  
Conclusion: Saturated but Real?  
Glossary

In his beautifully balanced, clear and broad-ranging account of a fast-changing field, Paul Hodkinson has successfully brought together myriad perspectives with which to critically analyse today's media culture and media society
Sonia Livingstone
Professor of Media and Communication, LSE


Introductory texts are notoriously difficult to write; they have to be accessible, engaging, well organised and well written. Hodkinson has succeeded in writing a book which makes a distinctive and engaging contribution to the literature; it is a work which combines scholarship and imagination. The book is carefully organised and sets an agenda which will be useful to students in a wide variety of contexts. It manages to combine traditional approaches to understanding the media with new and emergent issues and areas. Contemporary examples and illustrations are used throughout to ensure that general analysis is always embedded in particular case studies and each section is rounded off with a summary conclusion which allows students to reflect on their reading. The book is fully supported by key references and succeeds in providing an introduction to which students will return throughout their studies
Tim O'Sullivan
Professor of Media, Film and Journalism, De Montfort University


Written clearly and accessibly, Media, Culture and Society offers a solid grounding in key theories and debates. From media technologies through to audience communities, Hodkinson is always a sure-footed guide
Matt Hills
Cardiff University


"The book addresses complex theories and issues of power, control and representation, but does so in a style that is accessible without being simplistic...The text would be useful in media seminars at various levels." - Pete Bicak, Rockhurst University
Pete Bicak

Selected Croteau/Hoynes Media/Society

Dr Wendy Weinhold
Communication, Languages & Cultures, Coastal Carolina University
January 11, 2015

"Media, Culture and Society"presents critical perspectives on "new media" that are ideal starting points for controversial and vivid discussions in class.

Dr Katharina Lobinger
Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI), University of Bremen
November 25, 2014

This book has a lot of great information, but it is not organized particularly well. Within chapters, it jumps around, which is confusing for students and was even slightly confusing for me as the instructor. In other words, I had to go back and reread sections frequently in order to connect points that were unclear. Many times, a clear organizational pattern is not apparent and the book seems a little stream of consciousness. Additionally, the author seems to work from the assumption that students have a bit of background knowledge in not only media, but philosophy and other disciplines as well. This creates a lot of extra work for instructors in terms of filling in blanks for undergraduate students.

I like that this book is inexpensive, but I think students would rather pay a little more and get a book in color with more interesting photos and examples within the text. Since this is a media textbook, more variety in terms of media examples are necessary so that the instructor doesn't have to do so much searching for supplemental material. Also, this book comes with no supplemental material for instructors at all, so exams/assignments must be written from scratch and there are no movie/TV/internet suggestions to bring into the classroom.

In all, if you're willing to put in a ton of work as an instructor to make this book come to life in the classroom, this can be a useful text, but at the end of the day, the additional work required for the instructor might be overwhelming.

Dr Raven Pfister
Communication Studies Dept, California St Univ-Long Beach
July 15, 2014

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