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Posts Tagged ‘media’

Gay Best Friends as Consumers and Commodities

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

If you’re looking for something slightly different to incorporate into your Culture and Identity / Media Sociology teaching this book chapter on “Effeminacy and Expertise, Excess and Equality: Gay Best Friends as Consumers and Commodities in Contemporary Television” by Susie Khamis and Anthony Lambert might well fit the bill.

Of particular interest here might be the way it links identity to consumerism and consumption by focusing on “the gay male best friend as a possessable, commodified identity”.

It’s probably not something you’d necessarily give to students to read – it’s quite long and complex in places – but it’s definitely something teachers might find useful to precis or draw examples from to illustrate some interesting ideas about gender, identity and consumption.

Given A-level Sociology has a largely female demographic it’s also something this particular audience may find both easy to relate to and the basis for discussion based on their own ideas and experiences.

Methods, Mobiles and Media

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Research Methods can be a little abstract and dry (teacher-speak for dull), particularly when opportunities to experience and apply what’s being taught are limited by things like time and a lack of easy access to suitable research subjects.

This is where Steven Thomas’ “Patterns of Mobile Phone Use” article might help. The research example it suggests takes advantage of a ubiquitous resource – student ownership of mobile phones – to promote a relatively simple and straightforward way of applying and evaluating a range of methods, from questionnaires to participant observation.

It does this by suggesting students (loosely) replicate Maenpaa’s (2001) examination of the impact of mobile phones on social interaction through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods designed to monitor mobile phone use in a small case study scenario. The article suggests a set of general areas to study – from the simple quantitative, like the length of time people spend on their phones each day, to more qualitative questions relating to how people behave when using their mobiles.

Media: Context / Background

Although the article is mainly designed to help students get to grips with research methods, if you’re teaching media there is an additional aspect to the research you might find interesting: evaluating the social impact of new media.

The concept of “New Media” appears somewhere on all Sociology a-level Specifications, frequently in conjunction with an instruction to examine its role / impact / significance in contemporary societies, both local and global:

AQA: New media and their significance for an understanding of the role of the media in contemporary Society

OCR: The impact of digital forms of communication in a global context

WJEC: New media and globalisation

CIE: The impact of the ‘new media’ on society.

In Thomas’ article the student research is based around a contrast between Negreponte’s slightly gung-ho and highly-individualistic “digital optimism” and Maenpaa’s more-nuanced approach to communication and interaction.

One interesting aspect of Negreponte’s work is the claim that in a digital society of “email, fax and answering machines” (the fact he only said this in 1995 shows how rapidly the technology has changed) the world will become asynchronous. That is, in order to participate or communicate people do not need to be interacting at the same time. As he predicted (Wired, 1998):

“We’ll all live very asynchronous lives, in far less lockstep obedience to each other. Any store that is not open 24 hours will be noncompetitive. The idea that we collectively rush off to watch a television program at 9:00 p.m. will be nothing less than goofy. The true luxury in life is to not set an alarm clock and to stay in pajamas as long as you like. From this follows a complete renaissance of rural living. In the distant future, the need for cities will disappear”.

One way in which new media has become increasingly ubiquitous is through the exponential growth of mobile / cell phone ownership and you would think that if any technological development has created or expanded asynchronous interaction it would be this one: technology that even a few years ago could be used to symbolise wealth and social status is now pretty-much everywhere.

While Negreponte’s arguments have a ring of truth about them – a certain face validity as it were – others have not been so sure. Maenpaa’s (2001) examination of the impact of mobile phones on interaction is a case (study) in point, with his key findings summarised by Thomas.

Methods

If you just want to use the activity as a way of teaching research methods, researching mobile use could be used to devise and apply methods such as:

  • Questionnaires / Structured interviews
  • Unstructured interviews
  • Observation – non-participant
  • Participant – overt and covert

  • Equally you could use a combination of quantitative / qualitative methods if you wanted to illustrate concepts of triangulation.

    If you don’t have the time, opportunity or inclination to do this as a practical exercise, try doing a thought experiment where students have to imagine what it would be like to do the research. This particular route can be instructive if students already have a good grounding in different methods, their strengths, weaknesses, uses and limitations and you want to explore a range of more-theoretical issues (different research methodologies, different aspects of triangulation and so forth).

    Sociology and Issues in the News

    Saturday, June 10th, 2017

    This simple activity, culled once more from the ATSS archive, has a dual purpose in terms of helping students:

    1.     Develop a critical and sociological understanding of “news” and how it is socially constructed and presented.

    2.     Interpret and apply sociological knowledge to real social situations.

    The activity requires no great preparation and involves students examining a story currently in the news from a sociological perspective. Stories can be chosen individually by you or your students or you can assign the class the same story. The objective here is to encourage students to:

  • identify the underlying assumptions and perspectives used to frame and present “news”.
  • explore alternative sociological explanations and evidence.

  • While the “news angle” is a bonus for those studying media, this is an exercise that can be used from time to time to help students sharpen and apply their sociological knowledge and understanding right across the a-level specification.

    If, for example, students are studying crime and deviance, stories relating to this area can be used to examine alternative sociological explanations.

    Deviancy Amplification PowerPoint

    Thursday, May 4th, 2017

    Deviancy Amplification has become something of a classic example of an Interactionist approach to deviance, predominantly, but not exclusively, because of Jock Young’s seminal analysis (1971) of “The role of the police as amplifiers of deviance, negotiators of reality and translators of fantasy”.

    This is a little ironic given that Leslie Wilkins’ original formulation of an Amplification Spiral (1964) has much more positivistic overtones: for Wilkins, the Spiral (or “Positive Feedback Loop”) both described a particular social process – how control agencies unwittingly create crime through their unwitting actions – and, most importantly, was intended to predict how such behaviour would develop.

    While the predictive element is perhaps long-gone (if it actually ever really existed) deviancy amplification remains an important sociological model based on Lemert’s (1951) distinction between primary and secondary deviation.

    (more…)

    Connecting Walls Collection

    Monday, April 24th, 2017

    Oriel Sociology has been busy creating and posting a huge number of revision Connecting Walls on Twitter and, in the spirit of “pinching other people’s stuff and sharing it with a wider audience”, I’ve pulled all their tweets together into one handy blog post for your – and your students’ – greater convenience.

    So, if you’re looking for a fun way to spice-up classroom revision with a bit of competitive tension, try some or all of the following:

    Education

    Education Wall 1

    Education Wall 2

    Education Wall 3

    Education Wall 4  

    Education Wall 5

    (more…)

    Free Chapter: The Psychology of Addictive Behaviour

    Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

    The third – and probably final – free chapter from Holt and Lewis’ “A2 Psychology: The Student’s Textbook”, this one covers addictive behaviour in terms of main areas:

    1. Models

    Biological, cognitive and learning models of addiction, including explanations for initiation, maintenance and relapse

    Explanations for specific addictions, including smoking and gambling

    2. Factors affecting addictive behaviour

    Vulnerability to addiction including self-esteem, attributions for addiction and social context of addiction

    The role of media in addictive behavior 

    3. Reducing addictive behaviour

    Models of prevention, including theory of reasoned action and theory of planned behaviour

    Types of intervention, including biological, psychological, public health interventions and legislation, and their effectiveness.

     

    Sociology Factsheets: To Buy or DIY?

    Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

    fsheetLike all good ideas, this one is simple but effective.

    Distil topic notes into key knowledge points, add illustrative examples and brief overviews of advantages and disadvantages, throw in some exam tips and short “test yourself” questions, call it a factsheet and sell it at a very reasonable price to teachers – which is exactly what the Curriculum Press (http://www.curriculum-press.co.uk) has done.

    If you want samples of the various factsheets (their web site lists around 160), there are a few scattered around the web that I’ve cobbled together and presented here for your viewing pleasure:  (more…)

    Simulacra and Hyperreality

    Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

    sim_coverI’ve called this a “Lesson Outline” (rather than Plan) because it’s designed to introduce and to some extent explain the related concepts of simulacra and hyperreality using practical examples to illustrate the processes.

    What the Outline does is treat the related concepts of simulacra and hyperreality in more-depth than in usually the case with most Sociology A-Level textbooks; this isn’t a criticism of such books, rather an observation that there’s rarely enough space available to treat the concepts with the depth I think they deserve. In this respect the Outline details 1sr, 2nd and 3rd order simulacra and, in relation to the latter, hyperreality.

    Whether or not you chose to go with the practical stuff is really up to you – it’s indicative rather than prescriptive – and there are no fancy timings or whatever to guide you through your use of the materials.

    I have included a short (3 minute) video resource (https://youtu.be/ilps5xefBp8) you can use alongside the printed resource – again, nothing too fancy or prescriptive, just 6 short (around 30 seconds) clips you can integrate into your lesson if you so choose.

    Download Lesson Outline (pdf)

    More ATSS Teacher Support Material

    Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

    atss_logoThanks to the very useful online file converter Zamzar I was able to convert one of the old ATSS support booklets from it’s original Microsoft Publisher .pub format to a more-friendly and easily-edited Word format.

    This booklet illustrates the concept of News Values and is based around the question of “Who creates the news?”. The material uses a mix of instruction and activities to encourage students to explore areas like:

    • Editorial Decision Making
    • Marxism and the Control of the News
    • Pluralism and the Media Investigated
    • How Representative is the British Media?

     

    SCTV Weekly Round-Up

    Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

    A little late, but worth the wait. Probably.

    Our weekly round-up of the sites and stories that are hot.

    Or not.

    (more…)

    Weekly Round-Up

    Thursday, May 19th, 2016

    This week’s round-up of all the sites, scenes and sounds that piqued our interest…

    (more…)

    Weekly Digest

    Thursday, May 12th, 2016

    All the links that caught our eye this past week in one handy post…

    Sociology

    Education

    Failure discourse: Govt must launch royal commission into ‘failing’ state system, says private school head”

    Methods in Context Mark Scheme

    Government backs down over plan to make all schools academies

    Thousands of supply teachers could lose out on more than £200 a month owing to changes to tax relief rules

    Professionalisation of governance: “Without parent governors, schools face uphill battle to engage families”

    The impact of longer school days

    I’ve seen the future and it doesn’t look good: “I Teach At A For-Profit College: 5 Ridiculous Realities”

    Students who use digital devices in class ‘perform worse in exams’

    Genes that influence how long you stay in education uncovered by study

    Crime

    Manchester’s Heroin Haters – Vigilante violence?

    Insecure working as social harm? Some thoughts on theorising low paid service work from a harm perspective

    Revealed: London’s new violent crime hotspots

    Chief Constable confirms election expenses probe involves 2 Cornish MPs, and his own boss

    Street crime resources

    Extending the Web: “Legal highs brought low as councils use banning orders to curb use”

    Tough talk on crime has led to a crisis in Britain’s prisons

    Corporate / White-collar crime “David Cameron to introduce new corporate money-laundering offence”

    Wealth, Poverty, Welfare

    Poverty by Design? “Sink estates are not sunk – they’re starved of funding”

    Top 25 hedge fund managers earned $13bn in 2015 – more than some nations

    Media

    18 Baffling Tropes Hollywood Can’t Stop Using

    Selling Shame: 40 Outrageous Vintage Ads Any Woman Would Find Offensive | Mental Floss UK

    The General Strike to Corbyn: 90 years of BBC establishment bias

    How to Fabricate Front Page News

    Social Inequality

    Class, Culture and Education – a good discussion piece for students: “Why working-class actors are a disappearing breed”

    Example of different type of discrimination: “Blacklisted workers win £10m payout from construction firms”

    Tax havens have no economic justification, say top economists

    A Sandwich and a Milkshake? Interesting discussion point for UK inequality / tax cuts for wealthy

    Methods

    Statistical Artefact: Useful research Methods example “Fewer people die in hospital at weekends, study finds”

    Family

    Childhood / sexualistion  /media: “Magazine under fire for swimsuit tips for pre-teen girls”

    Psychology

    Epigenetics: “Identical twins may have more differences than meet the eye”

    Esteller study: “How epigenetics affects twins” | The Scientist Magazine

    The uses and misuses of “growth mindset”

    Miscellaneous

    The way you’re revising may let you down in exams – and here’s why

    A psychologist reveals his tips for effective revision

    Britain at a glance – lots of lovely data in easy-to-read formats!

    How to create better study habits that work for you

     

    Media Methods

    Monday, May 9th, 2016

    8lqm5uyGOne of the obvious ways to study the media is through Content Analysis and a classic – if now somewhat dated – application of the method was the Glasgow Media Group’s pioneering research, evidenced through a series of books – Bad News (1976), More Bad News (1980), Really Bad News (1982) – that examined “the ‘common sense’ acceptance of the neutrality of television news” and concluded: “Contrary to the claims, conventions and culture of television journalism, the news is not a neutral product. For television news is a cultural artefact; it is a sequence of socially manufactured messages, which carry many of the culturally dominant assumptions of our society”. (more…)

    Media Representations: UK TV Tropes

    Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

    The concept of a “media trope” refers to the recurrent use of particular ideas, themes and the like within (and sometimes across) different media and while tropes are often simple stylistic devices used to convey necessary information to an audience in a short space of time (Hollywood films, for example, use various recurring devices to denote “good” and “bad” characters) they can also be a lazy way of stereotyping whole groups of people.

    This is something TV drama does a lot – and these are some of my “favourite” UK TV Tropes.

    (more…)

    Crime as Postmodern Spectacle: Fear, Fascination and Murder as Video Game

    Friday, August 28th, 2015

    A significant feature of what we might call “crime in postmodernity” is the idea that the media, in all its many forms, plays a central role in the construction of criminogenic discourses, where the role of the media is twofold.

    First, media are important because they propagate and, in some senses, control organise, criticise, promote and demote (marginalise) a variety of competing narratives.

    Second, none of these is especially important in itself (teachers and students, for example, probably do most of these things); they become important, however, in the context of power and the ability to represent the interests of powerful voices in society.

    In a situation where knowledge, as Sarup (1989) argues, is ‘fragmented, partial and contingent’ (‘relative’ or dependent on your particular viewpoint), and Milovanovic (1997) contends ‘there are many truths and no over-encompassing Truth is possible’, the role of the media assumes crucial significance in relation to perceptions of crime and deviance in contemporary societies. In this respect, media organisation takes two forms:

    1. Media discourses (generalised characterisations such as crime as ‘a social problem’) and
    2. Media narratives – particular ‘supporting stories’ that contribute to the overall construction of a ‘deviance discourse’ – instances, for example, where deviance is portrayed in terms of how it represents a ‘social problem’.

    (more…)

    New Media: 2. Issues

    Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

    The various features of new media raise a new set of issues for both producers and consumers. In terms of the former, for example, the development of global computer networks have presented problems for media industries whose products are relatively easy to copy and distribute, with no loss of quality because of digital reproduction. The development of peer-to-peer networks, for example, has led to the rise of global forms of intellectual property theft (“piracy”), to which media conglomerates have responded in a range of ways:

    • legal prosecutions of individual offenders and attempts to shut-down illegal providers, such as Napster and Megaupload.
    • the development of new economic models. “Freemium” models, for example, provide a free service, such as software or a game, but users then pay a premium for “added extras”. Popular Facebook games, such as Farmville, have successfully taken this approach..

    A further issue involves the “unauthorised access to computers and networks” (“hacking”), something that involves:

    • governments: cyberwarfare, for example, involves governments engaging in the politically-motivated hacking of rival government computer networks for reasons that range from espionage to sabotage.
    • organisations: In 2010 the American government claimed the cybertheft of copyrights and patents by China remained at “unacceptable levels”.
    • individuals: viruses and malware designed to damage computers, extort money or steal information.

    Specific issues for consumers have a number of dimensions, particularly those surrounding personal privacy. Social media such as Facebook make money through advertising, which can now be individualised, personalised and targeted through the sale of users’ personal data to third-parties; users, therefore, exchange “free” services for some loss of privacy. While corporations such as Facebook simply monitor how their network is used in terms of what an individual likes or dislikes, discusses or avoids in order to deliver adverts matched to these behaviours, Kosinski et al. (2013) have shown it is possible to accurately infer a wide range of personal information, such as ethnicity, IQ, sexuality, substance use and political views, from an analysis of an individual’s “likes”.

    (more…)

    Another flipbook…

    Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

    As I said in the previous post, I really like the idea of flipbooks – possibly because they give the illusion of actually reading a book, magazine or document in a way that reading text on a web page or in a pdf document doesn’t.

    Having posted an example of a GCSE flipbook, here’s an a-level example; defining the mass media looks, as I suspect you might have guessed, at how we can define this particular concept both conventionally / historically and in contemporary terms that takes in the development of New Media.

    Defining the Media Flipbook

    Media Censorship

    Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

    Discussions about censorship at A2-level usually focus – quite understandably – on human agency, whether we’re thinking in terms of various forms of overt government / propriatorial censorship or the self-censorship that’s part-and-parcel of contemporary news values.

    An interesting and slightly different dimension that could be worth introducing is the concept of algorithmic censorship; that is, the various forms of censorship that develop when software is programmed to pick-up or demote different types of news story on sites such as Facebook.

    This article should help to illustrate this idea.

    Black youth in British news media: Representations and content analysis

    Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

    Cushion, Moore and Jewell’s (2011) study “Media representations of black young men and boys” is useful for media sociologists because of the way it attempts to research a specific type of media representation using a combination of methods to generate quantitative and qualitative data.

    The study uses content analysis to quantify representations of black youth in British media. The main objective here is to discover whether or not negative stereotyping occurs.

    Qualitative interviews with 10 journalists are then used to explore some of the news values employed by the British media and how they relate to – and go some way towards explaining – media representations of Black youth.

    Media representations

    Sunday, May 11th, 2014

    Interesting Ted-Talk about the portrayal of women through advertising and its possible effects.