Sociology | Social Problems and Policies, Topic: Media and Society
S101 | 12837 | VonderHaar


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.