Media and Society: Critical Perspectives

By Graeme Burton | Go to book overview

GLOSSARY

Binary oppositions: these appear in texts and in discourses (either implicitly or explicitly) as opposing sets of ideas, characters and plot elements. They are usually framed in terms of the positive and the negative: in effect, that which is approved by the dominant ideology, and that which is not.

Campaign: the organized use of adverts and publicity across media and over a period of time, for the purpose of promoting anything from goods to party political views.

Censorship: the suppression or rewriting of media material by those in power in order to deprive those in subordinate positions of any but a partial set of views which favour the powerful.

Classic realist text: describes the dominant form of narrative in our culture, in which a selfcontained diegetic reality is constructed for and by the audience. This reality is bound up with character motivation, denouements at the end of the story, and an acceptance of a representation of time and space which does not match life experience.

Closure: identifies an aspect of popular narratives (classic realist text) in which at the end, problems are resolved, the story is closed off. One may distinguish between this kind of closure and ideological closure where what is shut down by the workings of dominant ideology is the possible range of understandings about the ideological significance of the text as narrative – for example, shutting down ways of understanding how masculinity is represented in a given text.

Code: a systematic combination of signs, bound by conventions or rules. Primary codes include those of speech, non-verbal communication and visual communication.

Cognitive dissonance: this describes an inconsistency or disagreement between two things which we believe that we ‘know’ about the world. Dissonance creates anxiety. Advertising plays on this by inducing a dissonance between that which we know we do, and what we know we believe in (and therefore ought to do). The ‘problem’ can be resolved by for example, buying the insurance which helps secure our family.

Commodities: these are goods. But – see Marxism – they may be more than material objects. For example, women may be turned into commodities if they are objectified through visual representations, and then ‘sold’ to us in an advert. The woman becomes a cultural commodity.

Commodification: is the process of creating commodities, of turning everything in a our culture into a commodity with a price on it. That price may be more than the ‘goods’ can possibly be worth in factual terms – see fetishism.

Commodity fetishism: Marxists’ views envisage an alienated society dominated by commodity fetishism – the turning of goods such as cars into fetish objects with special meaning (e.g. sexual power), for which we pay far beyond their real material value as objects for transporting people.

Connotation: in semiotics, this is the meaning(s) that exist beneath the surface of that which is

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