The Media and Cultural Production
Publication Year: 2001
This book offers a fresh and accessible introduction to the relationship between media power and cultural production. By marshalling a range of theoretical perspectives from political economy and cultural studies, The Media and Cultural Production invites the reader to analyze the relationship between the making of meaning, political, economic and social power and the machinery of cultural production - the media. The book: critically examines the notion of the `cultural industries'; examines the regulatory framework in which the cultural industries operate; looks at the impact of globalization on cultural production; explores the way in which meaning is both produced and contested. The Media and
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: The Struggle for Power and the Struggle for Meaning
- Chapter 2: Sites for Making Meaning I: The Culture Industry
- Chapter 3: Sites for Making Meaning II: The Regulatory Framework
- Chapter 4: Sites for Making Meaning III: Commercialization and the ‘Death of the Public Sphere’
- Chapter 5: Striving for Discursive Closure: The Struggle for Hegemony
- Chapter 6: Moving to an Informational Economy: The New Rules of the Power Game in Global Network Capitalism
- Chapter 7: Circulating Meaning I: Making News
- Chapter 8: Circulating Meaning II: The Public Relations-Izing of War
- Chapter 9: Circulating Meaning III: Making Sense of Distant Places
- Chapter 10: The Limits of Power: Resisting Dominant Meanings
© P. Eric Louw 2001
First published 2001
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There was a time when media production issues were central concerns within media and communication studies. It has been argued, with some justification, that this led to something of an over-emphasis being placed on the encoding dimension of the communicative process (that is, too great a focus on communicators and the medium/media), which caused the role of decoders (recipients and audiences) to be undervalued. These criticisms were to precipitate a focus-shift towards the ‘active reader’. However, once the decoding dimension and ‘active audience’ became the ‘trendy’ concerns of communication studies, something of a paradigm flip-flop occurred – and not only did the issues of encoding, media production, media ownership and ‘ideology’ etc. tend to fall off the media studies agenda, they actually came to be dismissed as ‘dated’ (which perhaps confers some validity on Kuhn's hypothesis that paradigm shifts are accompanied by the active de-legitimation of earlier work). Ultimately, the turn away from ‘encoding’ towards ‘decoding’ simply generated another lopsided understanding of the communication process – instead of over-emphasized encoding, decoding was now overemphasized.
This book wishes to place encoding issues back on to the communication and media studies agenda because this author believes that understanding communication as a ‘total process’ should involve a concern with both encoding and decoding. Hence this book sets out to revisit the work of those who have previously concerned themselves with media production issues. More specifically, this book attempts to [Page viii]re-activate a number of ‘media production themes’ in a way that makes this work accessible to undergraduates, an objective of this book being to produce an undergraduate text which brings together in one volume a wide range of communication studies work on media production.
Further, the book aims to introduce undergraduates to the relationship between cultural production and power – to explore how the socially powerful attempt to use the media to maintain their positions of dominance over others. It is about introducing undergraduates to an exploration of cultural and media production via the issue of power relationships. As a result, the book explores the role the media can play in the process of creating, maintaining and shifting power relations, as well as the role that the wider struggle for social power has on media practices, production and consumption. In this regard, a central theme in the book is that the socially powerful attempt to use the media in their exercise of power precisely because the media does have the capacity to ‘manipulate’ us. This is not to argue that the media are all-powerful, or that we are necessarily always manipulated, or that the socially powerful always get their way. Rather, this author sees the media as possessing the ‘potential to influence’ in a rather more diffuse way. In this regard, the book draws heavily upon Bernard Cohen's notion of agenda-setting – that is Cohen's conceptualization that the media ‘may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about’ (1963: 13). This agenda-setting logic provides a useful fulcrum for exploring how the media may ‘limit’ what we perceive, but still allows for the conceptualization of an ‘active audience’ which is able to engage with what is on offer. Yet, as Cohen's logic suggests, the media has the capacity to manipulate us even if we are ‘active readers’. Hence the need to pay attention to media production.
I would like to thank Trish Andrews for her useful suggestions on Chapter 1, and Rose Louw for sub-editing the book. Thanks also to James Davidson and Julia Hall of Sage for ‘guiding’ me to the idea of writing such a book in the first place.
ABA Australian Broadcasting Authority ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation ARD Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Offentilich-Rechtlichen Rundfumkanstalten Deutschland BBC British Broadcasting Corporation CBC Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CEO Chief executive officer CIA Central Intelligence Agency (USA) CNCL Commission for Communications and Liberties (France) CRCT Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission EU European Union FARC Revolutionary Armed Force of Columbia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) FCC Federal Communications Commission (USA) IBA Independent Broadcasting Authority (South Africa) IMF International Monetary Fund ITC Independent Television Commission (UK) MITI Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Japan) NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization NGO Non-Governmental Organization NHK Nippon Hosa Kyokai (Japan) NWIO New World Information Order NWO New World Order OECD Organization for Economic Corporation and Development PAC Political action committee PR Public relations [Page x]PRs Public relations professionals PSB Public service broadcasting SABC South African Broadcasting Corporation WTO World Trade Organization WWW World Wide Web ZDF Zweites Deutsches Fernesehen (Germany)
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