Blog Essay Class 4

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?


7 thoughts on “Blog Essay Class 4

  1. How can we get citizens to have an interest in politics and a desire to not only be informed but act? Is it possible?

    I think that exposing gender inequalities is a good first step. For example, everyone knows that gender inequality exists, but I had no idea it was so rampant even just in the interview/quoted sources in an article, especially concerning women’s issues (as discussed in the He said/he said article). Education and advocacy is important to making progress, but as you mentioned, there are some populations that are close-minded and seem impervious to seeing things from another perspective. They don’t want to see, hear, accept or acknowledge that women should have the same rights, capabilities and opportunities as their male counterparts. I think this is particularly seen in the South (no offense). I have grown up and lived in the South all my life, but I’ve spent a long time in other parts of the country. It doesn’t seem to be *as* bad there. We need to also remember that inequality has many forms, not just gender, but also inequality based on creed, ethnicity, religion, disabilities, motherhood, SES, location, etc. As for getting people to take action, I think complacent people will usually just stay that way. But hopefully by giving them the facts, it may inspire them to act—at the very least, to stay aware of facts and learn to question something that doesn’t seem right or fair in society. I also think that the overall desire and interest in politics has waned with the passage of time. I feel like people now, especially our generation and younger, are just very apathetic. Yes, there are those few people who are galvanized and inspired and informed, but by and large that doesn’t seem to embody the majority of people. It’s like a Chomsky quote I found: “You cannot control your own population by force, but it can be distracted by consumption.” Many people of our generation are also very distracted and obsessed with consumption. Consumption is a great way for politicians to downplay whatever is going on in the world because let’s face it, consumption is fun and it also requires less thought, concern, education and awareness to do. In effect, it is to look but not really see.

    • You mention distracted – I think that is key. We have so many different things competing for our attention, and I agree that by and large our generation is apathetic regarding politics.
      It’s funny you mentioned the South – when writing, that’s what I had in mind. Thinking back to the election with candidate Sarah Palin for VP running against Barack Obama for president, I heard from numerous people that as badly as they did not want an African American president, they wanted a female president less. It amazes me that even now we have such backwards (in my opinion!) thinking about how society should be.

      • Similarly to you, I have defended that one possible explanation for male dominance over news could be that male sources are traditionally better considered, as more credible. From my point of view, that means that our gender culture is inadequate: family and social education is failing in constructing a free-discrimination frame to view the world. Media is also contributing to this dissimilarity, as some of the articles show.

        I think you very well point the fact that elites don´t need to shape media content, since society already make their decisions. I would defend that we, as media creators, but also as part of the society, need to find ways to provide intellectual resources for people to critically consume media. As a teacher, I would like to think this is one of the things I am doing, but being new in Journalism, I would like a extent discussion in how could we contribute to it through media.

  2. How can we get citizens to have an interest in politics and a desire to not only be informed but act? Is it possible?

    When it comes to encouraging citizens to become interested in politics, neither the media nor the politicians forcing their messages down their throats are helping. I think people in the United States are becoming less and less satisfied with the government and its policy everyday which is expected considering the deficit the laypeople most popularly like to blame on the government. Don’t believe in this dissatisfaction? Check out this article that highlights some of the reasons for discontent: If there wasn’t strong dissatisfaction with the way the country was being run, people might feel more inclined to engage in the political landscape.

    But I believe another issue that was mentioned in the article, “Mass Communication, Popular Taste and Organized Social Action.” Lazarfield and Merton calls this issue the “narcotizing dysfunction” which highlights the concern of the large amount of information available through the news and the Internet that people are becoming apathetic to media messages. On one hand, this smells like laziness to me but it is also understandable. Maybe individuals think, “How can I possibly keep up with all of this information? I’m just going to give up and live in my own world” (which is my response to popular music).

    So what is the solution? I would like to say Google or the ability to sort through trillions of gigabytes of information to find exactly what is of direct interest to the person searching. This indicates that the media may need to do a better job at localization. Although it is important to keep smaller populations aware of the nationwide events that are constantly sliding across the bottom of the screen on most news channels, I think it is the job of local news and newspapers to keep citizens interested in what is going on in their backyard politics because it is there that news effects are the most direct.

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