Karl Marx's Relationship Between The Media And Society

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Media has now became the main approach we attain the information, it brings us the unimaginable convenience and none of us will ever throw doubt on its credibility. But is it valid enough if we claim that what media tell to be true is equal to what actually happens in the external world? I think many of us will prefer to doubt about this statement. Ronald Barthes, as a well-known post-structuralist, had clearly analyzed the relationship between the media and the society. In his article, he shows that what we accept as being natural is in fact an illusory reality constructed in order to mask the ‘real structures of power’. Indeed, the messages contained in the media, especially the mass media, may not eventually the same as what is in fact to…show more content…
In Marx’s sense, there is a ‘surplus value’ (the difference between the worker’s salary and the price of goods and services) existed among the production relation, however, since the price of the products always higher than that of the worker’s salary, therefore what the labors can do is to produce for the capitalist constantly in order to purchase the goods they want (turning workers into consumers). (Gilbert L. Skillman, Unknown year) Guy Debord went a step forward to elaborate and expand this phenomenon in his article. According to his theory, the capitalist boost the productivity of labor by creating the ‘society of spectacle’ – the means or methods of the media to advocate the consumption of images, spectacles or even fantasy. After applying the spectacle (mostly refers to those impressive and attractive scene or view) in the media, the mass audiences will then be attracted by or addicted to that spectacle, and more importantly, their tastes and desires will at the same unified by the media (unified as a common desire or pursuit that is created by the media). However, as what Debord emphasized later, those of so-called ‘common desires’ are merely a kind of…show more content…
Roland Barthes’ theory about mythologies can accurately explain this statement. According to Barthes, signs (are mostly images), especially those displayed in media text, are always containing the second level of significance (the ideology that the media producer want to spread). To put it simply, ‘the second level of significance’ is referring to the hidden connotative meaning of the sign, which is arbitrary and artificial ‘invention’ rather than a natural creation, and is always functioning to shape people’s thought about diverse social issues. Barthes then takes the cover page of the ‘Paris Match’ (a magazine) as an example to illustrating his point. In the cover page, there is a black solider (representing the people who are being colonized) giving his salute to the French flag (representing the French imperialism), this scene is obviously the first level of significance. But it is the same obvious that there are some hidden meaning implied by the image, that is, the praise of French colonialism. The media text succeeded to spread this ideology (French colonialism) by displaying that, even the black people are being colonized, they still saluting towards the French flag so as to show their respect. (John Storey, 1997) As a result, the people who see this cover page may probably think of the positive image of French imperialism in mind, however, it is in fact impossible that there will be anyone

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