Notes on Theories of Mass Communications Essay

This essay has a total of 728 words and 6 pages.

Notes on Theories of Mass Communications



Essay 1 - GSC2411 (Theories of Mass Communication unit, Monash University, Australia)
This is NOT an essay - it is a collection of notes which are the foundation of an 800 word
comparison of two articles regarding the place of humanities in university studies, and
the roles of mass communication.


Part 1 (800 words - 30%)
You will be given two short readings by the end of Week 3 of the Semester. Identify the
approach or approaches used in each, and with reference to the features and examples of
the identified approaches as presented in Subject materials, justify your answer.


Andrew Riemer's article, "Cannon or Fodder?" (The Weekend Australian, 16-17 November
1996) can be identified as having both Idealist and Leavisite approaches within the text.
This is indicated in several passages of the text:


"My colleagues in the Department of English were irresponsible…They were trivialising the
discipline…by allowing undergraduates to sidestep the so-called canonical writers…in
favour of whatever transient phenomenon or writer of small talent happened to be their
latest obsession."


"They were reprehensible … in encouraging their students to impose simple sub-Marxist,
sub-feminist templates on complex and mysterious works of literature … Milton's Eve
reduced to a mere victim of the patriarchy."


"Alluring though it might be, we cannot recover intellectual integrity by turning back the clock."
"Cannon or Fodder?" (The Weekend Australian, 16-17 November 1996)

When looking at the approaches as they are presented in the Subject Materials, one is able
to identify them as clearly being both Idealistic and Leavisite. Our Subject Book
indicates that the Idealistic view of culture has been "conceived in the humanities and in
journalism and popular social commentary … a realm of moral, spiritual and aesthetic
values which exist largely independent and above society". Further, this view states


Culture was isolated from society - autonomous because it had to be abstracted from one
way of life (pre-industrial) and then transmitted and extended to another (allegedly
inferior) way of life to 'save' that society.


The Leavisite concept of culture is still common and is firmly bound up in the theory of mass society and mass culture.

Mass communications are seen to hold a crucial and privileged place in mass society,
taking over the role of creating and distributing the values and information common to a
society.


Mass culture, unlike high culture, is unable to transcend its time and place and offer any
kind of lasting truth to its audiences and, at worst, positively damages them.


Critics of Leavis have questioned the narrowing of 'culture' to literature.

…idealist concept of culture, synonymous with 'high' culture, it carries with it its
implied opposite - the denigrated 'mass' culture.


…a central assumption of the approach is that there exists a natural hierarchy of high
culture and mass culture. This is how the idealist approach deals with differences.

Continues for 3 more pages >>




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