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Audience Perception and Influence: Marxism Approach

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Words: 1871 |

Pages: 4|

10 min read

Published: Aug 30, 2022

Words: 1871|Pages: 4|10 min read

Published: Aug 30, 2022

Table of contents

  1. Marxism and The Media
  2. Theories and the Media
  3. Conclusion

During our investigation our main research aim was to identify the extent to which the public are manipulated and influenced subconsciously via the material exploited through large conglomerates and the media texts that they release. It was decided that for this to be effectively assessed, it would be essential to have a real life case study that we could delve into, and as a result landed upon the prolific Rupert Murdoch, an Australian-American media mogul who owns a large proportion of the biggest media platforms in the UK today. This, paired with an anchoring towards the theories of Marxism, provided the grounds for our investigation. Media here highlights the way in which a market is dominated by large businesses, and how the likes of Rupert Murdoch use his ownership and majority over the UK’s circulated news to assert his views over a vast audience whilst also being an influence on UK government and politics.

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Marxism and The Media

Karl Marx and his work was essential to the investigation into how society was influenced in the twentieth century, and it is interesting to consider that this is still extremely apparent in the twenty-first century also. It is important to consider his prolific work in accordance with today’s society with regards to the hegemonic ruling class, which has been investigated by numerous theorists delving into the investigation of audience perception and influence. This formed the foundation for our academic podcast, where we were able to consider these things through a modern day lens in relation to current political issues and a world abundant in media texts. Marxis adopts the theory that “dominant ideas in any society are those that are drawn up, distributed and imposed by the ruling class to secure and perpetuate its rule,” and this is arguably still relevant and available to see in some of the most recent media texts. Here, the ruling class are those at the heart of the largest conglomerates and as a result are able to project what they wish onto their readership through the distributed media texts.

According to Marxist theory, the bourgeoisie are the hegemonic ruling class as they are the only ones wealthy enough to create and distribute texts, and so use the media to their advantage to manipulate and control the proletariat, here being the working class who make up the majority of these texts. The media texts distributed by larger conglomerates, in this case, the bourgeoisie, are done so purposely to lower the working class intelligence and sway their political views and opinions. Today, the likes of Rupert Murdoch fill the role of the bourgeoisie in this instance because their ownership of the largest media platforms means that they are untouchable, and as a result can release whatever they wish into the public sphere. One might say that ‘democracy requires diversity and pluralism with the media reporting and providing platforms for different politicians and interest groups to present their views’. However,  ‘many examples of media concentration which have a damaging and distorting effect upon the democratic process have occurred.’ This has been prolifically featured in numerous articles featured in newspapers owned by Murdoch, suggesting that Murdoch has developed a political alliance with the conservative party in the past. Murdoch’s has an undeniable hold over print media, particularly in the UK, and this is ‘testimony to Murdoch’s brilliant, intuitive and ruthless instincts’.

Rupert Murdoch has dominated the largest media platforms to date. Murdoch owns and The Daily Mail, The Times and The Sun, and many more of the largest newspapers and media producers internationally, but more specifically dominates that of the UK. Murdoch has been at the forefront of many scandals involving these newspapers, for example, Murdoch's newspaper, The Sun, has in the past been accused of working alongside the government, directly with the conservative party. This is undeniably of great concern to the public, putting across more political views originating from the conservative party than their oppositions. This therefore questions the public’s freedom of opinion, since they are unknowingly being fed biased views originating directly from one political party. As Douglas of the BBC put it, “The idea of one man or company controlling a large proportion of the nation's newspaper and broadcasting interests is an issue of public concern - particularly when that person takes a close interest in the political agenda of his newspapers and one of them claims to influence general elections”, readers of this media text are unknowingly guided into a false sense of security because they would be reading a text that they would assume to be impartial, when the reality is quite the opposite. Media texts, unbeknown to us, are allocated key roles to play, being social, personal and political. This is to ensure it the public are informed with regards to global issues and updates whilst also allowing individual consumers, in some cases, to decide what they gain from these media texts, whether it be it to gain political enlightenment or not, and it is supposedly holding the intention of aiding the reader in making an informed decision. That said, journalism tends to make information a commodity, and as a result is sold to people in a certain light rather and under certain circumstances suitable to the reality of the agenda of an article. Consequently, a true presentation of the reality is never given. In this case, Politics is a sensitive subject and Murdoch is well aware of this. Through his ownership, Murdoch is denying his vast readership of the information otherwise leading them to make an informed choice on who to support with regards to politics. Murdoch is questioning the issue of free-will here, by attempting to adapt the current public sphere and constructing an false one in which his newspapers are benefiting from easily influenced, passive readers who absorb the headlines and articles without acknowledging the level of bias. The cheap price of these papers and its focal news values specifically targets the working class. The articles written in paper are intended to be an easy read and often portrayed as entertainment to attract this particular group of people, yet at the same time will be disguising the political agenda written amongst the text and illustrated in the pictures. Murdoch is able demonstrate and enforce his own political beliefs on and to the masses through these texts.

Theories and the Media

In support of Marxist theory, the hypodermic needle theory offers the viewpoint that the messages behind the media texts and the information being sent out is ‘injected’ into the minds of the mass audience. The hypodermic needle theory suggests that the audience is passive, and the ideas that they are subjected to are injected into their minds where opinions are changed or reinforced, depending on the producer’s message encoded into the media text. Marx’s theory has similar aspects to the hypodermic needle theory, as he believed that the bourgeois purposely distributed media texts that would lower the intelligence of the proletariat to control their political views and opinions. In conclusion, the hypodermic needle theory supports Marxism in that the public are continually manipulated by the media, however, it is worth considering that an audiences reaction to a media text is shaped by a person’s cultural experiences and views, and this would mean that instead, the audience are not passive, but able to shape their own reception of a text and avoiding manipulation. Especially more recently, with movements of equality, feminism, sexism and the like, people are beginning to receive media texts and experiences in different ways than ever before. However, Stuart Hall’s offers an alternate point of view, where his theory of encoding and decoding contrasts to that of the hypodermic needle. Hall’s theory suggests that as a reader, our reaction to and acceptance of a media text directly relates to our thoughts, feelings, experiences and opinions and so not everyone will react to the text in the same way. According to Hall, a reader will have one of three reactions to a text based on their individual feelings and experiences; the dominant reading, the negotiated reading or the oppositional reading. This theory lends the idea that media conglomerates will never truly hold power over the readership or be intirely effective in the intention of the text. Harold Laswell’s communication theory suggests that a vital filter on mass produced media texts is ownership, and that this must be considered while analysing the intention of a text and the reality that it illustrates. This is painfully visible in todays circulation of media texts due to wealthy conglomerate owners being biased as to what is featured in the production of texts, just as Murdoch has done in alignment with his political preferences. In this way, the theories of Karl Marx are still profoundly relevant in today’s society and it is clear that in the light of politics and at the hands of the likes of Rupert Murdoch, this is becoming more and more obvious in the media. As Hiroki Ogasawara of Kobe University puts it, “He [Marx] taught something always along with and in line with ongoing situations. He taught us how to profoundly understand and intensely describe the “concrete” in cultural and social fields”.

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Conclusion

Through in depth analysis of psychological research and a recurring theme in criticisms of Rupert Murdoch and the like, my group was able to build an argument based on the case study of this untouchable media mogul, paired with a real life example of Brexit. This modern day example analysed through Marxist theory allowed to see a direct correlation between the fundamental ideas of Karl Marx and the themes that are still undeniably relevant today. We were able to establish that, indeed, audiences are still being unknowingly influenced in the same way that they were during Marx’s era, thus his theories are still evident in some of the most widely circulated media texts today. During the podcast, we were able to stick to our script because we knew that our argument was undeniable while considering the power hungry side to Rupert Murdoch and the media texts produced at the hands of this. Through the podcast, we were able to flag up the key issues in journalism today, and in some ways warn the listener with regards to the content that they are exposed to each day in newspapers, on the television and online in todays technological age. I felt that our chosen topic was a complex one, which required extensive analysis into the key ideas of the media texts that potentially outlined our argument into the topic of audience influence. As a result, we found ourselves with an abundance of sources and an uncertainty with regards to which of these would be appropriate and concise enough to use in our project. Once decided, we still had a lot of ground to cover and as a result the editing process to the podcast was extensive. This is because our area of academic debate was specific and relatable to many people, especially with modern case studies of Rupert Murdoch and Brexit. As a result, we produced a clear and concise argument, one which truly highlighted the key issues of bias that are evident in the media today.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Audience Perception and Influence: Marxism Approach. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 22, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/audience-perception-and-influence-marxism-approach/
“Audience Perception and Influence: Marxism Approach.” GradesFixer, 30 Aug. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/audience-perception-and-influence-marxism-approach/
Audience Perception and Influence: Marxism Approach. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/audience-perception-and-influence-marxism-approach/> [Accessed 22 Apr. 2024].
Audience Perception and Influence: Marxism Approach [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Aug 30 [cited 2024 Apr 22]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/audience-perception-and-influence-marxism-approach/
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