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Science & the Mass Media

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  1. Science & the Mass Media Chapter 15

  2. Science as a social institution • Sociology of science is the study of the development of scientific knowledge, how scientific developments affect the development of society • Birth of science: Greek thinkers, great Egyptian libraries • Fall of Rome and the Dark Ages

  3. Rebirth of science • 1.the Renaissance-wealth leads to patronage with funds for arts • 2.development of movable type and practical printing press • 3.Age of Exploration-needed to assist navigation and analyze findings in New World • 4.Protestant Reformation-lowers belief in authority, emphasizes individual • Scientific method developed • Age of Enlightenment

  4. Modern science • disciplines multiply • education spreads • private/corporate/government sponsorship of research • public imagination

  5. Norms of Scientific Research • Robert K. Merton • Universalism-judge research only on its merits, not scientist • Organized skepticism-all research should be questioned, no blind acceptance, revisit and re-question • Communalism-all knowledge available to all, sharing knowledge is additive • Disinterestedness-scientists seek truth not personal gain,no alter data to gain acceptance or awards • Counter-norms-if research is controversial, may develop new norms (particularism, dogmatism, solitariness, interestedness)

  6. Realities of Scientific Research • Fraud-anthropology examples Piltdown hoax • Competition- push to publish, cutting corners, ethical violations • Matthew effect-credit goes to the more famous, experienced, not newcomer, prevents fair recognition • Conflicting views of reality-earth as center of the universe vs sun?1600s Galileo charged with heresy. PARADIGM-set of shared concepts, methods, and assumptions that make up a scientific reality at a point in history • Ethics – genetically altered food, stem cell research, mechanical womb, intergalactic travel…what values will science embody? Nazi experimentation in camps-do we use the data?

  7. Science Fiction • View of how science affects the individual and society • Starts as Utopian, how science will make the world a better place • Industrial Revolution turns much literature into dystopian images • Frankenstein, Brave New World, 1984 • Ray Bradbury & Isaac Asimov • Star Trek, Star Wars fascination in popular culture with space and science, way of re-telling traditional myths

  8. Mass Media as a Social Institution • Instruments of communication that reach large audiences with no personal contact between those sending the information and those receiving it • TV, books, newspaper, CD, surf internet • Institutionalization of mass media as a social institution driven by a series of intellectual and technological innovations • Writing & paper-trade requires recordkeeping, Sumerians, cuneiform, tablets, animal skins, to paper (Chinese earliest) • Printing press- 1450s Johannes Guttenberg, movable type and printing press • Industrial age-rising literacy, advertisement, electronic media developed: telegraph, telephone, phonograph, radio, moving pictures, tv= new forms mass entertainment

  9. Computer and information society completely transforms the way people store and access information • Internet revolutionizes the way people communicate-worldwide audience, immediacy, personal affects, and political changes • 50% of all workers are employed today in information-related fields-programming, journalism, advertising • Fastest growing job segment

  10. Mass Media in the United States • Print Media • 1,500 daily newspapers • 57% adults read daily • 18,000 magazines published • 80% households at least one • 70,000 books published annually • 40% Americans read 10+ books a year • Declining readership • 13% American population read 0 books a year • Shifting to digital formats-kindle, nook, online

  11. Audio Media • Sound recordings (cd, videos, cassettes, vinyl) • Pirating & MP3s • 10,700 commercial radio stations, 2,200 noncommercial • Visual Media • Movies, tv, dvds • American studios 400-500 movies a year • 7,421 movie theaters, 37,000+ screens • 98% American homes have tv, 68% wired for cable • Average American family watches 7 ½ hours/day • 85% American households have vcr/recording device

  12. Online Media • Email, online chat, shopping, discussion groups • 50% American households have internet access • Social media changing social rituals • Convergence • Integration of different media technologies-ex. NYT on web, cd versions of books • Media consumption alters with age-movies more young, newspapers older demographic

  13. Perspectives • Functionalist perspective • Media increases the efficiency of society • Means of socialization • Study dating changes • Conflict perspective • How does the media maintain social order? Propaganda, how is information provided and controlled? • Concentration of media outlets in hands of few elites • Knowledge-gap hypothesis-as new information enters society, wealthy better educated acquire it faster, increasing gap • Digital divide-gap between those with access to new technologies and those without • Who plays roles? Minority parts on tv

  14. Contemporary Issues • Mass media and children • Watching too much television? Too much time online/gaming? Disengagement from direct social contact • Amount of violence on tv • Tv violence encourages viewers to act in aggressive ways as a means of solving problems • Less sensitive to suffering of others • Make fearful of the world around them • Rating system and parental controls • Advertising targeting children

  15. Mass Media & Civic & Social Life • Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam, argues that since the 1960s Americans have become more and more disconnected from civic and social life • Voting decreased • Membership in civic organizations like PTA, decline • Less entertaining at home • Resulted in the decline of the nation’s social capital: social networks and reciprocal norms associated with these networks that encourage people to do things for each other-particularly tv and internet

  16. Power of the Media • Agenda setting- gatekeepers, media executives, editors, reports determine what is ‘news’, they decide what issues will receive coverage and which will not • Spiral of silence-different outlets all cover the same story, with the same spin, bombard audience with similar messages, discourage other voice • Is there a liberal bias? FOX news? • Opinion leaders