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  • Updated on com101home.html. To view PowerPoints go to and download PowerPoint Viewer. An understanding of media content as a text that provides insight into our culture and our lives. Critical Theories.

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  1. To view PowerPoints go to and download PowerPoint Viewer

  2. An understanding of media content as a text that provides insight into our culture and our lives

  3. Critical Theories

  4. The analysis of media messages to try to figure out how they affect people and the societies in which they live. • Here are some common ones:

  5. Semiotics • The science of signs and symbols • Looks at how people create and understand signs and symbols in order to comprehend communication • examples

  6. Semiotics can also be known as symbolic interactionism by those who don’t like semiotics

  7. Psychoanalysis • Examines how mass media messages influence the audience’s social rules in order to suppress instinctive anti-social impulses

  8. Sociological Analysis • The most common type of analysis done by critics • Comes in many flavors that have evolved over the years

  9. Direct Effects Model • Often considered propaganda • Based on the idea that people are passive targets of mass media messages that cannot help but be influenced • Points at such messages as advertising and government propaganda that people will follow like lemmings • Denies that people are individuals

  10. Limited Effects or indirect effects Model • Found that people may take in the messages, but will turn to opinion leaders for how to interpret and follow or not follow those messages • People with strong opinions are unlikely to change them • People pay more attention to messages they already agree with • The most persuadable don’t pay attention

  11. Critical Cultural Model • Rather than effect, it looks at how people use and construct messages • The media control the flow of information and what can be discussed • Those who control the media control the message • Rooted in neo-Marxism – those who can control the culture control the media and thus society

  12. Agenda Setting • The media don’t tell us what to think, they tell us what to think about • Examples: • Martin Luther • Tom Paine • William Randolph Hearst • Modern news

  13. Book of the Dead

  14. Ramses II and the Battle of Kadesh

  15. The Torah

  16. Uses and Gratifications • People actively seek and use those media messages that they personally feel gives them something • They use the media to get something they want • They feel gratification when they get what they want • Such U&Gs can include to be amused, to find models to imitate, to see authority figures inflated or deflated

  17. Social Learning Theory • There’s no way a person can experience everything • The media provide information about the world and society that the individual can’t experience alone • Can create a person’s reality: what things are, how to think, how to behave, how to interact with others, how to be in society

  18. Cultivation Analysis • Media messages tell people what the world is like and how people respond to what happens in the world • An example is the mean world syndrome: heavy users of the media think the world is a more violent, dangerous place than it actually is because so many media messages contain violence (e.g., news, cop shows, dramas)

  19. No one technique or theory has all the answers • All hypotheses start with assumptions • Scientific hypotheses start with assumptions about the world that can be empirically checked and falsified • Social science hypotheses start with assumptions about people that usually can’t be empirically studied and are taken as axiomatic (they’re true because I think they’re true and can’t prove it one way or the other)

  20. All are ways to examine the media; none are the final answer