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Monday, January 9, 2012

Communication, Media, Society and Politics

Introduction to the course.

We will investigate how contemporary mass media frames our experience of the world and shapes our political involvement in that world.

This course focuses on the complex relationship between media, society and politics by examining the ways in which information is mediated between social, cultural and political institutions. It develops a conceptual framework from which to analyse the dynamic technological and regulatory environment in which the media operates and to investigate the consequences of changes in these areas for media practitioners, politicians and ordinary citizens. Topics covered include media ownership and regulation; the media and society; the media and politics; the media and social movements; the politics of spin; censorship, freedom of speech/press; new media and democracy; global media and global politics.

This subject examines the ways in which news is constructed in the media, the social organisation of the media and the media as site of contested power. The media is a crucial political and social actor in an era in which information is becoming an increasingly valuable resource. We will undertake a critical analysis of television, internet and newspaper reporting in the Indian and global contexts, analysing issues including the processes by which stories come to be considered 'newsworthy', and how political and social issues are represented in the media.

Generic Skills Expected of the Course

· demonstrate critical thinking and analytical skills,

· be able to communicate knowledge intelligibly and economically, both orally and in writing;

· display awareness and understanding of the social, ethical and cultural contexts of the media and of our place as viewers or audience,readers in short consumers

· be familiar with theoretical approaches to the media.

The Theme Introduced- Communication, Media, Society and Politics.

Our ideas about surroundings,our social imageries,our social understanding,our self and life skills are formed through the information received from a sender.Our world view is hsaped and designed by the communication we are part of.

Communication and media plays crucial role by which social and political life is vastly decided and shaped.

The media and other communication platforms and institutions form prisms and lenses through which ideas and information reach the public.

Those who care about freedom and democracy, about controlling their own lives, must discern how social realities are distorted by such prisms and lenses.

People are highly communicative creature-all people communicate parents, children, lovers, teachers, government, citizen, etc.

People communicate in different ways-Hamsa-Swan- Nala Damayathi,Unnineeli Sandhesham,Meghasandhesham,Messengers in ancient kingdoms, etc.Mobiles in modern life are important way for communication-SMS , MMS etc,

People communicate different things-artists –Pablo Picasso,M F Hussain-communicated their artistic mind in paintings,Kanai Kunhiraman communicates in his sculpture,Leo Tolstoy communicated Russian society in his novels,KPSC communicated socialist ideas in Kerala.

People communicate for various reasons-

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

Italian writer and literary critic Umberto Eco, in his renowned essay Travels in Hyperreality-who went on a tour of America to get a firsthand look at the imitations and replicas that were on display in the nation's museums and tourist attractions. An early description of the way contemporary culture is now full of re-creations and themed environments was provided by Umberto Eco. In a brilliant essay, Eco saw that we create these realistic fabrications in an effort to come up with something that is better than real -- a description that is true of virtually all fiction and culture, which gives us things that are more exciting, more beautiful, more inspiring, more terrifying, and generally more interesting than what we encounter in everyday life. The two capitals of this new culture of illusion are Las Vegas and a vastly enlarged Disney World. In just the last few years, Las Vegas, with its Egyptian pyramid-hotel, reproduction of the Empire State building, and fantasy version of the Grand Canyon, has become the city of imitations, that is turning itself into the world's first urban theme park. Meanwhile, Disney World has expanded, in typically orderly fashion, one module of imaginary worlds, at a time, becoming not a city that is a theme park, but a theme park that has become a city. Disney World has even developed its own suburbs of fantasy, that are filling central Florida with theme park sprawl, as miniature and not-so-miniature attractions, featuring Medieval knights, re-created Chinese buildings, and an animatronic King Kong, spring up around its outskirts.

For Marx communication is false consciousness, where dominant ideology of ruling class is disseminated to indoctrinate the working calss.Inshort communication can be due to craze for conquest,emotional expression, intensifying miseries, love, etc.

Look at world around us,all animals communicate, Animals might not be able to speak or master advanced language techniques, but they certainly have other ways of communicating. All members of the animal kindgom communicate extensively among themselves without using any apparent words. In addition, some species, like whales, dolphins and elephants, employ sounds or body language as well. Whale song, wolf howls, frog croaks, bird chips -- even the waggle dance of the honeybee or the vigorous waving of a dog's tail -- are among the panoply of ways animals transmit information to each other and to other denizens of the animal kingdom.

But do animals also try to communicate with people? Absolutely! Our domesticated pets are excellent examples of animals who consistently tries to communicate with humans.

Animal vs. Human Communication

Conveying of meaningful information is known as communication, and it has been an integral part of success and hence, the longevity of any animal species and so for the humans. There are so many different ways of communication. Humans have various well developed communication techniques to serve a major distinction between animals’ and humans’.

Animal Communication

Animals have different forms of communication viz. gestures, facial expressions, gaze following, vocalization, and olfactory signals. Displaying body parts is a very common form of animal communication, especially in birds as their males become extremely attractive during the breeding season. The facial expressions are another form of communication, mostly in dogs. The dogs’ facial expressions reveal their intentions. When a dog is ready to play, the expressions from its face could be understood. Some of the better explained examples for gaze following among animals are bees and ants. Foraging bees play an act called the waggle dance, in order to let the other bees know of the source of food with the direction and the farther. Animal vocalizations have been well identified, and trying to characterize their functions by the scientists with the use of hormonal variations. Among most of the animals, sound has been a very effective form of communication. Olfaction, or the sense of smell is a pioneering form of animal communication, and it has been utilized by human also by using dogs most of the time. Through all forms of communication, animals are able to let others know about their requirements viz. feeding, breeding, aggression, alarming…etc.

Human Communication

Humans have developed many ways of communication ranging from gestures, facial expressions, letters, vocalizations, visualizations…etc. Usually, the distance matters for communication but, humans have invented many ways to overcome the distance. First, it was by sending messages via animals, then by creating postal services. The communication process was tremendously developed with the invention of telephone by Alexander Graham Bell and later, radio, newspapers, magazines, journals, television, internet, emails, and social networking websites appeared. However, still people prefer to meet and communicate with the gestures and facial expressions because, the real meaning could be conveyed through those ways. For communication, humans use many different languages but, English is the common global language. Visualization and olfaction have been other forms of communication in humans. Scenes or smell of delicious foods make the humans salivate, and these are being used by the restaurants and food companies to attract more customers. All those ways of communication function differently according to the needs.

What is the difference between Animal and Human Communication?

Both animals and humans communicate among themselves according to their needs in the lifestyle. The forms of communication look similar in both animals and humans but, the functions are different. Although, the forms could be classified and explained as similar in animals and humans, the humans have developed a very complex and rapidly expanding means of communication. Humans have been trying to understand the animal behaviours and their means of communication through the scientific method, which is another form of communication in humans.

Language and medium are most distinguishing elemnt which makes human communication most complicated.The social institution which brings these two elements in a system of mediation is media in modern life.

Language in Human communication

Of all human skills, language is one of the most valuable because it allows us to communicate with one another. Human communication is important to society, enabling business and interpersonal relationships, as well as teaching and learning. Language is also important because it allows people to create new words for a changing society, like "Internet,"

By ages, most humans have developed an ability to communicate through oral language. By time progress, most humans can comprehend, as well as express, written thoughts. These unique abilities of communicating through a native language clearly separate humans from all animals.

Languages are, essentially, systems of symbols that have meaning. Language is a means of human communication, whether it be expressed verbally, it writing or through sign language. All languages have a system of rules and meanings and can express an infinite number of ideas or meanings within that system.

Even though language is standardized, the interpreted meaning of the words that being communicated is influenced by a variety of factors about the situation. The way something is phrased, the tone in which it is said and the volume all matter. These "hidden" parts of communication affect way the listener interprets the speaker.

The human communication process is more complex than as it initially seems

Medium and Communication

The term medium has a long history in the field of communication. The method or device used to communicate an information is very important an element in communication process.

A medium is a person who claims to be able to receive and send information between our three-dimensional world and the spirit world. A great mass of evidence exists proving the validity of this communication capability in a number of gifted individuals. These accounts are interwoven with cases of proven fraud, however, which served to discourage scientific inquiry into this phenomenon over the past century.

In the last decade a number of mediums have emerged into public view and demonstrated through radio, video and written media the capability to communicate with spirits of persons who have previously died. This collective evidence is very strong proof of the survival of consciousness. These mediums are often able to pass along messages to bereaved humans which contain information that only the deceased person would know. Recent scientific experiments have shown that this communication can take place with a high probability of success and without any form of fraud or cold-reading. Because of the possibility that this information could have come through telepathic communications between the medium and his/her client, the most credible evidence is that which is unknown to the client at the time of the sitting but which is later found to be true. A number of cases of this kind have been reported.

Lasswell's (1948) classic outline of the study of communication:

· Who

· says what

· in which channel

· to whom

· with what effect

In the ecological model, the "who" are the creators of messages, the "says what" are the messages, the "in which channel" is elaborated into languages (which are the content of channels) and media (which channels are a component of), the "to whom" are the consumers of messages, and the effects are found in various relationships between the primitives, including relationships, perspectives, attributions, interpretations, and the continuing evolution of languages and media

We divide the different types of communication medium into two different categories:

1. Physical medium

2. Mechanical medium (everything that is not No. 1)

This site focuses on the internal communication. Our listings of types of communication medium therefore exclude external media.

Physical Medium

  • Large meetings, town hall meetings
  • Department meetings (weekly meetings)
  • Up close and personal (exclusive meetings)
  • Video conferences
  • Viral communication or word of mouth

Mechanical Medium

  • E-mail
  • Weekly letters or newsletters
  • Personal letters
  • Billboards
  • Intranet
  • Magazines or papers
  • Sms
  • Social media

Importance of Communication

Communication is easily overlooked, but the ability to communicate effectively is necessary to carry out the thoughts and visions of an organization to the people. The importance of speech and words whether through a paper or a voice is a communication medium to convey directions and provide synchronization. Without communication, there is no way to express thoughts, ideas and feelings

Six Reasons Why We Communicate

To promote understanding

    • Example: a politics teacher gives idea of how media mediate our social understanding
    • To make decision
    • Example: Presidential debates help us to choose what candidate we will vote for.

To inform

    • Example: the student council president delivers announcements every day to inform students about current school events.
    • Example: News broadcasts inform viewers of what is happening in their community

To resolve problems and conflict

Example: Students may use email or phone conversations to resolve disagreements

· Example: on a national level, President used press conferences and other media outlets to help resolve the nations fear surrounding the impending terror strike .

To meet social and physical needs

· Example: Students hang out with their friends on Friday nights to help meet their social communication needs.

To persuade

Example: elections campaign ads are used to help persuade voters to pick a certain candidate

We all need solitude but we also need relationship.If we were not to communicate, we would not be able to fulfill our physical, identity and social needs and to attain practical goals.

Characteristics of Human Communication

Human communication has several key characteristics.

· The process of communication is continuous, ongoing, and dynamic.

· Communication begins with the self.

· Communication is irreversible, or unerasable.

· Communication is reciprocal.

· Communication is unrepeatable.

· Communication is transactional.

· Communication exists in some kind of context, or setting.

· Interpersonal communication involves two individuals.

· Group communication exists among three or more people who have some common purpose.

· Organizational communication occurs in a formal institution with a hierarchy, common goals, and individualized tasks.

· Mass communication with a population takes places through some form of public media.

Media and Society

complex relationship between media and society:

how, what we see, hear and read is in some ways the product of our society and its particular political, economic, and culture shape, and how it also shapes our understanding of ourselves, our community, and our world.

Society and its politics are largely created,sustained and modified through communication.

R Williams 1962 in his book Communication , writes that what we call society is not only a network of political and economic arrangements but also a process of learning and communication

Habermas 1978 in his book Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action says that democracy can best be understood as a form of communication in which citizens inform,educate and became reconciled to each other in a process of reaching collective agreements.

We live in a society that depends on information and communication to keep moving in the right direction and do our daily activities like work, entertainment, health care, education, personal relationships, traveling and anything else that we have to do.

The media shape our attitudes about everything from soap to politics. In today’s world, media has made a very special place for itself in our lives.

It is not exaggeration if you say it has become our food, clothes, shelter, ideas, companion and even our graveyard.

There is no denial that media is playing a very significant role in making the world smaller. Through various mediums of media whether it is radio, television, newspaper or internet, we are able to connect with large number of people around us. Especially internet has truly become the need of every individual both for our work and to connect with our friends and well wishers.

Besides connecting with our friends, media also informs us about the world happenings.

In one line I can say that media is like a mirror of the society which reflect each and everything about the society to us. Media people from television and print takes the risk of their lives to inform us about important news.

But one also can not overlook this fact that slowly commercialization is also coming in media. Media has a huge responsibility of conveying the truth and relevant information to the common man. But somewhere this seems to be taking a back seat for media people as they are focusing more on commercialization. Now days, hot news which can help in increasing the TRP rates of the channel becomes the priority for them. But there are still some ethical people in media who are struggling to maintain the real purpose of it.

But media is not just confine to informing us about the world happenings and serving a means to connect with people, in fact it also affects out thinking patterns as well. The way we think and perceive various issues about the world is also shaped up by media. Today everyone especially youth is growing so aware about his responsibilities towards society is because of media.

When it comes to media, how can one forget to talk about the entertainment industry? Entertainment is something that one can not live without. Be it movies, radio, internet etc., media is just everywhere in our life. Today entertainment is so easily available that every common person is able to afford it. Music and movies are so easily available to us through the internet that one does not have to spend loads of money on them.

If we just look around then we would find that there is no aspect of our life which is not touched and affected by media. Be it our work, relationships, education or entertainment, media is seen everywhere. And there is no denial that we can not live without media.

Our attitudes,values ,politics ,free choices,free will are widely mediated by media.

Inshort in contemporary life people became mere consumers of new,entertainment and choices.

Media mediate our social life extensively.

Media and politics

Relationship between media and politics are some sort of symbiotic and umbilical

Politics is an essential ingredient of media

Princeton University professor Lucian W Pye has observed relationship between media and politics in his book Communication and Political Development 1963.

In his book Is Anyone Responsible?, Shanto Iyengar evaluates the framing effects of television news on political issues. Through a series of laboratory experiments (reports of which constitute the core of the book), he finds that the framing of issues by television news shapes the way the public understands the causes of and the solutions to central political problems.

The media plays a substantial role in the development of government. The media gives people access to be able to choose a political party, devise attitudes on government parties and government decisions, and manage their own interests. From newspapers to television to radio to the internet, the media is the leading factor in political communication and fund-raising

The mass media performs six main functions, almost all with political insinuations: 1) entertainment, 2) reporting the news, 3) identifying public problems, 4) socializing new generations, 5) providing a political forum, and 6) making profits. Its influence is more prominent during political campaigns because news coverage of a single event could turn out to be the most significant factor in putting a candidate ahead. In fact, countless national political figures, including the president, plan public appearances and statements to expand their influence through the media.

Overall, the media are always present with new stories on political activities. Political discussions cannot be avoided in the print media, political stories are aired on television everyday, commercial radio airs political news every hour, and paid political announcements are encountered in all media during campaigns. The media remains important since they are the means by which people obtain current affairs both inside and outside of the United States- however bias it may be.

Reading List

Media Power in Politics –Doris A Graber

Politics –Barrie Axford P.408-439

Politics –Andrew Heywood P.202-209

Comparative Govt and Politics –Rod hague and Martin Harop .P.95-109

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