Sociology Essay July 2013

Submitted By iva1997
Words: 1275
Pages: 6

Evaluate Marxist theories of the ownership and control of the mass media. (33 marks)

There are two types of media ownership in the UK. One of them, the state media is for example, the BBC, which is funded by the taxpayer and doesn’t have private owners and shareholders. Other types are private, which means that companies are owned by individuals, families, shareholders and so on. The UK media industry is dominated by a total of 13 companies. 10 of these are controlled by wealthy and powerful individuals, not shareholders. The Marxist theorists, Althusser being the best known and Marx alongside with his critical analysis of the ruling class ideology, believe that ownership and control lie within the ruling class, which means that our society is dominated by capitalism. Marxists, mostly traditional, believe that the ruling class are able to maintain control and power by sending out messages in the mass media.

As mentioned in the Item, these allow domination of the working classes with certain ideas and beliefs portrayed so that it benefits capitalism. For example in the news, the ruling class, Rupert Murdock, increases dramatically in the last 10 years the number of programmes centred on buying a property, which means that more and more working class people are encouraged to purchase a property which will consequently benefit the ruling class at the most.

Marxists further argue that the mass media is a form of social control in society. From the instrumental Marxist perspective however the relationship between ownership and control of the mass media is relatively straightforward, however many companies are linked on to others, making it a lot more effective and easier to make better profit more easily. Neo or hegemonic Marxists have different beliefs from traditional Marxists. Neo-Marxism is more up-to-date version, taking into account changes in society that Marxism would not have been able to consider. They believe that the media is now less controlled by owners because of different companies and forms of new media, particularly for example the Internet. Anyone could get their views across in today’s society and they also further believe that capitalism, which is the main term for instrumental Marxists. Other school of thoughts in society, for example Pluralists furthermore have different views to this. A point that has been raised by Instrumental Marxists that ownership and control are used to create a picture of social world beneficial to the interests of the most powerful people in society. Post-modernists furthermore argue with Marxists on this topic. They say that power is not concentrated in a few hands, rather power circulates in a fluid way. Post-modernists believe that globalisation is the best explanation for the ownership and control issues that Marxists raise. They believe that the mass media is in a state of flux.

Pluralists have a critical Marxist perspective however on the ownership and control of the mass media. They believe that Marxists exaggerate how powerful it is but in reality they think that it is not so. Pluralists suggest that it would not make business sense for owners and managers of mass media outlets to ignore the interests of the general public because then people will stop buying mass media products. Many pluralists argue that owners of the media don't have enough power and control because it order for them to make profits, they have to print and broadcast what the public wants. They further explain that the media is regulated by the law and most countries have anti-monopoly laws so that one company can't dominate. Barnett and Weymour are also pluralist sociologists who have the view that certain decisions are the ones that the GUMG took have a negative cultural effect in the sense that education, information and news have been increasingly side lined. They compared television schedules in 1978, 1988 and 1998 and rose to the conclusion that television is Britain has now dumbed