Sociology | Social Problems & Policies
S101 | 20340 | VonDerHaar

TOPIC: Media and Society

I invite you to sit down in front of your television set…and keep your
eyes glued to that set until the station signs off.  I can assure you
that you will observe a vast wasteland.

—Newton Minow, 1961

This class focuses on issues associated with mass media.  Topics
include: media power, news cultures, media ethics, government
regulation of the press, media and politics, advertising, media
violence, and media as an agent of socialization.  As this list
suggests, the media serve as an important vehicle of power in the 21st
century.   Media owners control the platform from which messages will
be delivered to millions of people world-wide.  Who are these owners?
And, do they socially construct reality for us?  If not entirely, who
are their partners in the social construction of reality—advertisers,
politicians, artists?

To what extent is your perception of the world created and manipulated
by media?  That is a difficult question to answer.  And, you might
conclude after taking this class that the media exert far less
influence on audiences than critics argue.  Nonetheless, news
organizations do provide citizens with information that is designed to
help them make decisions about their lives.  Advertisers do attempt to
influence what consumers buy and for whom the public vote.  And, we
must all think about the power of propaganda.

This class is designed to increase your knowledge and understanding of
the media’s impact on society.  Not only will you learn more about the
media’s role in American society, but you will also have the
opportunity to join a public forum where you can express your opinion
about it.