I found the piece He Said, He Said particularly interesting. Women love to talk. As the article states, there are more women than men in society, and with the changed dynamics, women are in nearly every job status and social corner of society as men. Admittedly biased, I can’t think of a plausible explanation for this other than just going back to the historical ideas that men are more intelligent, etc. Actually, I do have one possible explanation. While most of these media are likely not international, perhaps due to the lack of equality in some countries, it bodes media to use males sources. There are still societies globally (and I can think of a few communities locally) that do not listen to or respect women. Additionally, men are traditionally thought of as more intellectual and rational than women. Maybe subconsciously (or perhaps not) media believe the message is more likely to be received if provided by a male source.
However, as has been a sort of reoccurring theme, the media has the ability to shape cultural and social norms. As Lazarsfeld and Merten discussed, there are social roles and consequences of mass media. With their descriptions of media’s ability to enforce social norms as well as propaganda for social objectives, I would think the media could have influence regarding the perception of gender equality. The 10 Quotes by Noam Chomsky also support this idea of the media’s influence on the population. Control and propaganda seemed a bit overwhelming in these pieces, and really lead me to question the media and which messages they seek to transmit. Additionally, it led me to wonder about the average population and our ability to consume media. Lazarsfeld and Merten also noted that with media now available to and accessible by the masses, who as a whole are less cultivated, the quality of information provided has decreased. Aeron Davis writes in Media and Politics, that people today do not have resources or expertise to make rational political decisions. Essentially, citizens find some characteristic for a particular party and use that to make their decisions. Davis also writes that the public is less willing to consume political news or even participate in politics. This is in line with one of Lazarsfeld and Merton’s social consequences of mass media, the narcotizing dysfunction. With an overload of media these days, it’s as if people don’t know what to do. They further write that people today are okay with not actually doing anything about an issue because they are content to feel informed and have ideas about solving it. If this is this case, it’s no wonder that the elite few make the decisions and essentially control the way society functions. The remainder of people simply function within the structure in place, accepting life as is. As a society, are we really a group of passive recipients? Perhaps a bit naive, but I like to think not. I think the narcotizing effect as Lazarsfeld and Marton described, plays a role, though perhaps instead of simply being okay with knowing, we are overwhelmed by the abundance and are unsure of how to act.
Discussion Question: How can we get citizens to have an interest in politics and a desire to not only be informed but act? Is it possible?