Sunday, January 25, 2009

Teresa's Questions

1- Durham and Kellner (2006) assert that social and cultural theories explain, interpret, and contextualize sociocultural practices and structures. The theories that derive from the traditional scientific method generally intend to make predictions about how society works and must be falsifiable. In what ways the definition of theory that comes from the critical/cultural approach is different or similar to the one that derives from the empirical approach?

2- The history between cultural and critical studies is at times similar and interrelated and at times more conflicting. The Birmingham School, for example, adopted a Marxian approach to study culture but then it focused on cultural expressions, saw the audience as more active, and saw the working class as an instrument of social change while the Frankfurt School saw the audience as more passive and the working class as subjugated. Today, people commonly refer to critical/cultural as a single approach. How do these two schools of thought relate nowadays?

3- Marx and Engels pose that the ruling class dominate the production and distribution of ideas. According to this view, the media, dominated by the ruling class, would be one way to produce and distribute these ideas, and the audience would act as passive receptors. The advent of new technologies such as the Internet has demonstrated that the ruling class still dominates. For example, the mainstream media are still important players in the online world and the great majority of the most visited blogs are written by men (Harp & Tremayne, 2006). However, it is important to note that this new technology allows the audience to be more active in the production of content. As a result, many citizen-based media that are not in line with the ideas of the ruling/mainstream media have emerged. How does the Marxian theory explain this phenomenon? Or, how do these type of media fit in the theory?

4- Political economy focuses on the production and distribution of texts, which eventually may help to understand the final product. In what ways political economy relates to the media sociology field, which focuses on the factors that shape media content?

5- Althusser asserts that “no class can hold State power over a long period without at the same time exercising its hegemony over and in the State Ideological Apparatuses” (Althusser, 1971, as cited in Durham and Kellner, p.81). This has been demonstrated not only with Lenin but also with Venezuelan President Chavez and Peruvian former President Fujimori. Because one of the key State Ideological Apparatuses is the media, the question emerges: Should the media, besides acting as a government watchdog, take a more active role and advocate for alternation in power?

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