Ownership and Control: Marxism

marx media

Role of the media

  • The media is seen as a form of social control.
  • Althusser views the media as an ‘ideological state apparatus’, meaning that it transmits ruling class ideology to the public.
  • Ideology refers to a set of ideas and values representing a particular social group.
  • The ruling class ideology or dominant ideology justifies the advantages of wealthy and powerful groups in society and justifies the disadvantages of those who lack wealth, power and influence.
  • Agencies such as the media create a false consciousness, whereby people are unaware to the extent of their exploitation.
  • Marxists, such as Miliband, argue that the media play a key role in spreading the ruling class ideology as the media controls the knowledge we have access to.
  • The media creates a ‘climate of conformity’ among the population which justifies the power of the elite in society.

Role of the audience

  • The audience are seen as passive- due to false consciousness mentioned above.
  • They are assumed to be ‘unthinking robots’ rarely challenging the content presented to them.

Manipulation of content

  • Owners can promote publication of particular items or news that they feel strongly about and supressing others.
  • Media content can be manipulated  in order for the ruling class to be presented in a more favourable light.
  • Look into the press reports on the Miners strike, Hillsborough or UK political elections as examples.

Role of owners

  • Marxists believe that owners are hands on (see Rupert Murdoch’s role) in the control of their media sources.
  • They can dictate which stories to print and which angle to be taken e.g. political views. This all helps to persuade the audience that ruling class views are the norm and are to be accepted.
  • Journalists are fearful of upsetting their bosses so avoid writing articles which might cause controversy or a clash of opinion. Managers have little choice but to run the media within the limits the owners impose.
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