Structural functionalism and media. Structural functionalism Heavy use of analogy – Organic –...

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Transcript of Structural functionalism and media. Structural functionalism Heavy use of analogy – Organic –...

  • Structural functionalism and media

  • Structural functionalismHeavy use of analogyOrganicMechanistic

  • Concepts from systems theorySocial systemSocial structureSocial processesInteraction

  • Unique conceptsFunctionDysfunctionManifest (function/dysfunction)Latent (function/dysfunction)Functional alternativesFunctional requisites

  • Structural functionalismA form of systems theoryLooks at systems and subsystemsInterrelations among partsProcessesMaintenance, equilibriumAdaptation and change

  • Structural functionalismStructuresRepetitive behaviorsFunctionsImplications for system maintenanceEarly, conservative SF assumed maintenance was the main (positive) goal

  • Structural functionalismFunctions taken as the explanation for the existence of structuresend explains (justifies?) the meansReverses our general model of theoretical explanation

  • Structural functional analysisIdentifies the structures of a systemDefines the part played by such structuresExamines the consequences of social phenomena for the systems of which they are a part, andExamines how new structures emerge

  • Methodological assumptionsAssumptions: The conceptual assumptions underlying the approach can be divided into two basic areas: the social system is the prior causal reality and the system parts are functionally interrelated, all social phenomena have functions for the larger social system. Concerning these functions: they may be functional for the whole system or only part of it, there may be functional alternatives, there may be multiple consequences from particular phenomena, and finally, dysfunctions account for tension and change in the system. The approach assumes that systems can be identified and specified, that the boundaries are measurable.

  • Structural functional explanationRecurring behaviors (structures) are thought to exist because they in some way contribute to system maintenance (function)The identification of structures and the ways that they contribute are major goalsSociety is thought to maintain an equilibrium state (organic analogy) and if forced out of that state will adjust in ways that tend to reinstate equilibrium (though not necessarily the original equilibrium)

  • Structural functional explanationCertain functions are required for the existence of the system (society)Functional prerequisitesIn some cases, more than one structure can provide the same function Functional alternatives

  • Structural functional explanationChange is generated mainly from outside the system, as the system acts to maintain its status quoA second source of change is the existence of dysfunctions (actions that break down the system)Implications of a structure for different subsystems may conflict

  • Manifest v. latent (Merton)Manifest functions are commonly recognizedLatent functions are not commonly recognizedOften they are still the reason for structures to existMay be the real reason

  • CultureBasis for consensusMain means of integration of parts (communication)Consensus brings pressure to bear on deviates in order to maintain equilibriumDeviation considered a problem to be dealt withThe role of social control is to maintain system(in the interest of the population overall)Source of deviance unclear Socialization through a wide array of social institutions, including the media

  • Lasswells functionsThe communication process in society performs three functions: (a) surveillance of the environment, disclosing threats and opportunities affecting the value position of the community and of the component parts within it; (b) correlation of the components of society in making a response to the environment; (c) transmission of the social inheritance.

  • Lazarsfeld and MertonIncreasingly, the chief power groups, among which organized business occupies the most spectacular place, have come to adopt techniques for manipulating mass publics through propaganda in place of more direct means of control.these media have taken on the job of rendering mass publics conformative to the social and economic status quoFear that mass media lower the esthetic tastes of their audiences

  • Status conferral functionThe mass media confer status on public issues, persons, organizations and social movements.Recognition by the press or radio or magazines or newsreels testifies that one has arrived, that one is important enough to have been singled out from the large anonymous masses, that ones behavior and opinions are significant enough to require public notice.

  • Enforcement of social normsThe mass media may initiate organized social action by exposing conditions which are at variance with public moralities.Publicity closes the gap between private attitudes and public morality.

  • Narcotizing dysfunctionthis vast supply of communications may elicit only a superficial concern with the problems of society, and this superficiality often cloaks mass apathy.As an increasing meed of time is devoted to reading and listening, a decreasing share is available for organized action. The individual reads accounts of issues and problems and may even discuss alternative lines of action. But this rather intellectualized, rather remote connection with organized social action is not activated. The interested and informed citizen can congratulate himself on his lofty state of interest and information and neglect to see that he has abstained from decision and action.

  • In short, he takes his secondary contact with the world of political reality, his reading and listening and thinking, as a vicarious performance. He comes to mistake knowing about problems of the day for doing something about them. His social conscience remains spotlessly clean. He is concerned. He is informed. And he has all sorts of ideas as to what should be done. But, after he has gotten through his dinner and after he has listened to his favored radio programs and after he has read his second newspaper of the day, it is really time for bed.

  • Social conformismSince the mass media are supported by great business concerned geared into the current social and economic system, the media contribute to the maintenance of the system.Advertisement of productsStories contain some element of approval of current structure of societyFail to raise essential questions about the structure of society

  • Esthetic tastesHard to determine overall effectWidening of audience for higher artsAccessibility vastly increased

  • Conditions for media effectsMonopolizationLittle or no opposition in media to the diffusion of values, policies or public imagesCanalizationRather than attempting to change or create attitudes or behavior, directing pre-existing behaviors and attitudes in the direction you wantSupplementation of media presentation with interpersonal communication

  • Obstacles to media effectsLimited exposureDistractionSelectivityMiscomprehension/non-comprehensionCounter-propaganda

  • The FieldLasswells classic definition of the field:Who SaysWhatIn Which ChannelTo WhomWith What Effect?