Communications and Media: Theoretical approaches or concepts


Develop an essay that addresses one of the following topics. Make sure to address all of the issues being used. Make use of the ideas and approaches developed in the course, including any relevant ones from other weeks in the course. Theoretical approaches or concepts are especially useful in this respect.

1. Explain what is meant by the term ‘ideology’ and its significance for media and communication studies. Develop a specific case study showing an ideology at work in the media, and discuss the extent to which alternatives to this ideology exist. In selecting a case study, keep in mind the various ideologies we have looked at, in particular (but not only) deeply rooted ideologies of gender, race, nation/nationalism, capitalism, or religion.

2. Communication studies approaches to ‘popular culture’ tend to argue that audiences are active participants in using or consuming media. Develop a specific case study through which to explore the role of the audience in popular culture. To what extent does this case study confirm the view that the audience is ‘active’?

3. Feminist communication research argues that media is shaped in many different ways by gendered social relations and inequalities. Select a case study of the gendered nature of media through which to explore one or more feminist approaches to media studies. In developing your argument, address one or more of the following aspects of the media in relation to gender: as an industry; who works in media; media representations; the use of media (ie. audiences).

4. Advertising is crucial to the functioning of a market system, but many analysts also argue that it gives rise to problems, including a) the creation of ‘false needs,’ b) over consumption, and c) the propagation of dominant ideologies. Through the analysis of a specific case study, explore each of these critiques of advertising.

5. (alternate advertising question) Market segmentation is central to the way in which audiences are targeted as consumers. Through the exploration of one ad or advertising campaign, analyze how this market segmentation works in practice. The essay should include: a) a semiotic analysis of one advertisement; b) a discussion of the ideology or ideologies at work in the advertisement or campaign.

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