The M in CITAMS@30: Volume 18

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Media Sociology

Subject:

Table of contents

(13 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xxii
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Part 1 Inequalities and Media

Abstract

Access to high-speed Internet is essential for full and consequential participation in the civic, economic, and education systems of modern life. Yet 30% of Californians continue to lack “meaningful Internet access” at home. This digital divide is worse among already disadvantaged communities and prevents rural, lower-income, and disabled individuals from fully participating in the civic, economic, and education systems of life in 2018. This chapter establishes the magnitude of the digital divide, examines the factors that contribute to the Divide, and looks at which groups are most affected. Successful government programs that invested in utility infrastructure and adoption, such as the Rural Electrification Act, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and the California Advanced Services Fund, are examined to provide a foundation for broadband specific policy recommendations. The chapter sets up a framework for policy recommendations by segmenting the population based upon the concepts of material and motivational access and establishing meaningful Internet access as the goal for policy-makers. The chapter puts forth a number of specific policy recommendations to address the technological disparity and prevent it from furthering the economic and educational divides.

Abstract

This study investigated four different economic level areas of China (Shanghai, Shandong, Shaanxi, and Guizhou) to analyze the eastern and western urban and rural media service status at different development stages. This set of data comes from the comparison of regional urban and rural areas and indicates the various aspects of differences in the survey area, including the media use habits, media resources, media consumer demand, evaluation of media services, the role of media in public life, public knowledge level, and so on. On analyzing data comprehensively, one thing can be found that there is a positive correlation between the public media contact degree and the public knowledge level. The media plays an extremely important role in public life and regional public knowledge gap between urban and rural areas exists. Furthermore, this gap is positively correlated to the media resources and media exposure. The trend of media using on mobile phone and computer in urban areas increases significantly greater than in rural areas. Then, how to narrow the urban–rural and regional public knowledge gap and reduce the negative impact of the digital divide will be an important urgent task.

Abstract

Tribalism is at the forefront of public discussion across the political spectrum in America today. Zombie stories have also risen to unprecedented popularity. Amid present-day racial, political, and otherwise tribal tensions, the story I Am Legend has particular resonance. As the original inspiration behind the modern zombie trope, it was published as a novella in 1954 and has been remade as a film multiple times, in 1964, 1971, and 2007. Using grounded theory, I explore each film regarding what moral attitudes are portrayed concerning confrontation between rival milieus. My findings center on four themes: identification, compassion, ambivalence, and condemnation. Overall, in chronological order, the different renditions of the story exhibit decreasing compassion for the other and decreasing ambivalence about relations with the other. The most dramatic change is between the 1971 and 2007 remakes. Implications for what the changes in the morals presented in the story might reflect in terms of social changes in America are discussed.

Abstract

This article examines the framing of immigrants in nineteenth-century New York City. A content analysis of local and national newspapers on the Lower East Side of the borough of Manhattan that included the infamous Five Points neighborhood demonstrates that the contemporaneous media narratives constructed a discourse of fear and contempt about residents of the area by emphasizing their alleged vice-ridden lifestyle. This discourse framed immigrants as a threat to the existing social order and diagnosed their moral failings on their cultural alienation. We argue that this process can be seen as an example of the exercise of symbolic power that sought to maintain existing social and cultural hierarchies by denigrating the disadvantaged sections of the population.

Part 2 Cultural Production and Consumption

Abstract

The role of everyday citizens in the production of knowledge has become central to the study of media sociology. This interest is fueled by the growth of information communication technologies that have made it easier for amateurs to produce and disseminate content. The world of book reviewing – an exemplar of a field transformed by digitalization – concerns about the rise of amateurs manifests in the grievance that, “Nowadays, everyone’s a critic.” This chapter empirically investigates this idea by asking: Who is qualified to be a reviewer? The chapter draws on in-depth interviews with review editors, critics, and bloggers who have successfully crossed over to publish in some of the most important outlets in the English-publishing field. Analysis reveals that openness is central to ideas of what qualifies someone to be a book reviewer and how reviewers subsequently get work. Openness, however, is an example of noncertifiable skills, which are ascertained primarily through informal methods such as turning toward one’s personal and professional networks for recommendations from peers or relying on personal face-to-face encounters. A practical consequence of this selection criterion is that only reviewers who are known to book review editors in this specific way (i.e., their tastes and esthetic openness) are eligible candidates for professional review assignments. In this way, the commitment to openness as a professional value among book reviewers actually operates as a mechanism of closing their occupational boundaries.

Abstract

My analysis is structured as a comparative study between two countries – New Zealand and Italy – and focuses on the relationship between national audiences and the trans-media structure of the popular television series Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011– present). Game of Thrones’ narrative is characterized by elements that emphasize its fictitious world, since these elements belong to the fantasy genre, which, by definition, deals with the supernatural. From this standpoint, the fantastic universe of the series functions as an escape route from everyday life. However, instead of following the genre rules, “Game of Thrones articulates a striking refusal of the hopeful mythologies of high epic fantasy” (Tasker & Steenberg, 2016, p. 189) by focusing on the brutal, the extreme, and the overall injustice and chaos that permeate a society in which war and death appear to be inescapable. In this chapter, the textual schematic of Game of Thrones is examined through the emotional reactions, during focus group sessions, of national fan groups to themes and events of the show. In particular, the analysis of Italian and New Zealand followers’ comments on Game of Thrones will be instrumental to illustrating the reasons for their passion for the series as well as the main concerns that arise during the viewing. This ambivalent attitude in fans’ responses and engagement will emerge as significantly dependent on the media text’s capacity to transcend the boundaries of a simple categorization, to stand as a notable example of a program that manages to appeal to diverse audiences beyond the country of origin.

Abstract

Films, besides serving as an important instructive means to deliver sociological content, have also recently made their way into more structured courses on Media Sociology. It becomes particularly pertinent for cultivating global sociological imagination in the classroom. This chapter is a pedagogical reflection discussing the potentials of integrating Bollywood films into a first-year seminar, the content of which at many levels is comparable to basic sociology classes. The reflection is based out of the experience of teaching a freshmen class on Bollywood to a body of students with little past exposure, or knowledge of this movie industry. The chapter will initiate a dialogue on strategies of introducing the content, encouraging engagement and critical thinking, how to build on essential global sociological imagination along with a summary of what works and what does not. For this chapter, I will detail on the three contemporary Bollywood films (Ishaqzaade, Monsoon Wedding, and Dor), which I use to engage in a dialogue on family, class, and gender. Next, I will apply Sutherland and Fetley’s (2013) framework to explore the sociological relevance of these films (thus validating my choice of these works for pedagogical purposes) and also demonstrate possible hegemonic versus oppositional ways of reading these texts, which students are supposed to decipher and apply. Contemporary Bollywood films in many ways mirror aspects of the life course experienced in the United States and can be instrumental in encouraging a diverse undergraduate curriculum.

Abstract

This chapter introduces the important connections between media, democracy, and development in Brazil. Brazilian thought has relied heavily on conceptual oppositions in attempts to understand the country, as if there were something mysteriously contradictory in our culture and history, forever set on a rift between modernity and tradition. However convincingly described, the origin of such oppositions has never been fully explained. Introducing media history and theory into this discussion, we present a material dichotomy that illuminates the more abstract and cultural explanations of our particular history. We look at the region of Minas Geraes, where a sophisticated and diverse culture developed after the gold rush in the eighteenth century, in the Americas, and contrast such cultural achievements with the insurmountable difficulties in establishing a compatible written culture, primarily due to the prohibition of printing in the colony. We take note of the particular experience of the Conversos in Brazil, Jews who adopted Christianity in the shadow of the Portuguese Inquisition, as key to understand our ambivalent relationship to the written word and to knowledge. We describe commercial and cultural networks and contrast them with the paucity of media networks, including those of books and mail, domestic and international. This material disconnect, constitutive of colonial times in general, was particularly important during the formative years of a national market and identity and continues to resonate in the present.

Abstract

This chapter proposes a conceptual synthesis able to think media and mediation through affect theory. Its objective is to expand our traditional conceptual frame with a new concept: immediation. Through its capacity to render the power of affect’s sociality, immediation enables us to better grasp the social life of affectivities underlying every media experience. William James defines “pure experience” as the “primal stuff of material in the world, a stuff of which everything is composed” (2003, p. 2). This is “relation,” understood as a passage where affective lines of creation come together as one “concrescence” (Whitehead, 1978). How does the binding of these affective variations occur, giving pure experience the power to express itself as an esthetic feeling? Alfred North Whitehead’s answer to this question revolves around his notion of “society” (1978). It points to a virtual society composed of affective forces. Considering that “pure experience” is a process, it would be reasonable to conceive of it as passing a threshold in its becoming. Clearly, this threshold is not fixed, but rather a “mobile differentiation” (Massumi, 2002, p. 34) – emerging from the internal cohesion of the event of experiencing an esthetic quality. It should thus be understood as a process of emergence (or an actualization of virtuality). Affective passages, events, processes of emergence, and intensities are pulsations of radical novelty. They consist in what qualitatively happens in experience: what emerges as an event. Consequently, what happens to the concepts of media and mediation if we think them through this conceptual lens?

Abstract

As a member of this section for approximately 18 years, I share my perspective on the future of our domain within sociology. I also reflect on my own path to finding the CITASA/CITAMS, how my graduate training affected this, and where I am at this point in my career. I highlight areas for consideration as we strive to move CITAMS forward within sociology, focusing on our sociological presence, where our students find faculty positions, and how sociology values our domain.

Index

Pages 201-206
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DOI
10.1108/S2050-2060201818
Publication date
2018-11-30
Book series
Studies in Media and Communications
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78769-669-3
eISBN
978-1-78769-669-3
Book series ISSN
2050-2060