A2 sociology
Postmodernism and the media
• Using your terms from yesterday
• 1 minute each
Postmodernism in the media
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqsP0vQJ
So what is postmodernism
• Explosion of the media seen as part of the
change to a postmodern society,
• Postmodernist argue that we inhabit a world
shaped by the media,
• Media imagery and representation
themselves have become our reality with
computer technology creating virtual
realities that potentially replace their real life
• Argues that we now live in a in a media saturated
society in which media images now dominate and
distort the way we see the world.
• Media images replace reality to such an extent that
laser technology and video reportage have replaced
the blood and suffering and the corpse of war.
• TV news present information as media constructed
spectacles which makes them hard to distinguish them
from Hollywood movies and reality.
• Argues that this distorted view of the world
can be described as hyperreality with the
media presenting what he calls simulacra
(artificial images or reproduction/ copies of
real life events viewed simultaneously across
the globe.
Future media changes?
• On your table groups identify all the changes
you can imagine might occur in the mass
media over the next century.
• How do you think the relationship between
the media and audiences might change?
21st century media
• Enormous increase in the power and influence
of already powerful companies
• Global satellite, cable and digital television
and the huge growth of the internet and
other new media emphasises the
postmodernist argument that the media no
longer only reflects reality but helps to create
Sims ? A virtual reality
How can the Sims game be
seen as a virtual reality?
How can the game help people
replace real life counterparts ?
Garrod (2004)
• Reality TV shows such I'm a Celebrity, Wife Swap,
Fear factor, Big Brother, are blurring the
distinction and between reality and hypperreality
• ‘Hyperreality’ : knowledge of the world is drawn
from media images of reality rather than directly
experiencing it.
• The signs contained in media reality constitute
hypperreality and in the postmodern world are
our main source of knowledge
List all the ways in which the media
influences your life – 2 mins
your knowledge of current affairs,
your opinions, your taste in
music and fashion, your views of
different social groups such as
men, women, ethnic minorities,
the disabled or the elderly.
Strinati (1995)
• Emphasizes the importance and the power of
the mass media in shaping consumer choices,
• Popular culture ( culture of celebrity ) media
images and messages bombard us daily,
through books, magazines, newspaper, TV,
radio, advertising, and computers and from
our sense of reality and increasingly define
how we dominate yourself.
Strinati (1995)
• The mass media creates desires and pressure
to consume and many of us actually define
our identities (how we see and define
ourselves and how we want others to see us)
in terms of media imagery.
Have a think about what you are wearing today ...
Is your dress sense or the brands you wear
influenced by the media ?
What message are you trying to get across to
those that see you in those clothes?
How do you want others to think of you based on
the clothes you wear?
Strinati (1995)
• Argues that colour, form and media induced
trends have become more important than the
content of products; it is not the quality of
clothes, drink or mobiles phones we buy that
matters but whether they conform to media
induced images, styles, brands, names and
• The media promoted designers labels of popular
culture become more important than the quality
of the products.
Strinati (1995)
• A number of people are famous for no reason
at all and made into celebrities by the media,
• We are bombarded with so much information
imagery and images from the mass media
that there is an increasing uncertainty in the
world in the world: people no longer know
what to believe as international media
networks challenge our notion of the truth.
Example of hyperreality?
The Beeb have received over two thousand complaints following the EastEnders
‘baby snatching’ New Year storyline. Viewers were outraged after watching
Ronnie’s baby die of cot death.
Officials at the corporation refuse to confirm just how many people registered
their outrage, but insiders told The Sun that the office was ’swamped’ after the
New Year’s Eve episode which showed Ronnie Branning, played by Samantha
Womack, swapping her dead baby for Kat Moon’s.
In a rather bizarre turn of events, some fans accused the soap of suggesting that all
mother’s who suffered the agony of cot death, were criminals.
“Easily the sickest storyline the BBC has sunk to so far. Sensationalising cot death is
revolting,” said one viewer as their computer screen steamed up.
“Shame on you BBC for using other people’s devastating pain to boost your
viewing figures.”
Another wrote: “I cannot believe that the writers would do this to Ronnie – after
everything she has gone through.
“Having been an avid EastEnders fan for years, I will no longer watch it.”
Reading through some of the
comments why do you think people
feel such a close involvement to
soap operas stars and storylines ?
• The Eastenders storyline bears resemblance to
that of Coronation Street in 1998 which saw
Deidre sent to prison,
• This led to campaign from the British public to
‘free the Weatherfield one’
• The Home Secretary also involved the then
Prime Minister Tony Blair who attempted to
intervene in the unreal world that is soap
Criticisms of the postmodern (POMO)
view of the media
• Exaggerating the extent to which wider social
influences have subsided,
• POMO underplays the continual importance of
class, gender, and ethnicity into our lives,
• POMO exaggerate the changes that the media
have brought about,
• POMO overlooks the issue of inequality when
referring to global villages which is effectively
denied to so many people worldwide due to
financial ability (digital divide).
‘Twitter’ summary
• Individually
• How would you summarise the content of
this lesson in a twitter ‘tweet’
In conclusion,
Whatever the exact nature of their influence the
media have had an immense impact on
modern societies throughout the world, and
in the process the world has become a smaller
How do shows such as ‘snog marry
avoid blur the differences between
reality and hyperreality ?
• http://www.youtube.com/user/bbc?blend=1&