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    The role of media studies Essay

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    It is easy to link the economic benefits to our society when millions of games are bought daily by our youth, or the cultural dilemma of obese children due to the lack of sport and increase of ‘couch time’, or the politics involved in arguing children who do play computer games are benefited by not being out on the streets unguarded. It is worth studying such forms of media to gauge many current aspects of everyday life, and it is this link to everyday life – that these arguments directly affect OUR lives – that makes media studies so worthwhile in our society.

    Whilst popularity is viewed as the most relevant factor in constituting a valid argument for studying one text over another, some of the above-mentioned ways of questioning are also of great use to help understand the study of the media. Exemplification often aims to illustrate an aspect of theory, such as genre or representation. ‘It is a characteristic of media studies that it tests and reviews its own theories, asking students to figure out not only the usefulness of a theory, but also its limitations’6, again drawing away from a more conservative form of study seen in such subjects as English.

    Notoriety offers great insight into thinking about social, political and cultural contexts. Interesting texts but whose ‘notoriety reveals much about their conditions of production or consumption, including banned or controversial texts’7 again are a popular talking point, and raise many questions about ethics in everyday society. As is so often the case in Australian culture, comparisons are made, and in the case of studying media, comparisons are regularly made with the English subject. Comparing such is a valuable tool, and when we do so it is found that the two subjects, while related, have vast differences.

    The outcomes of this comparison help to identify the structures and makeup of media studies. ‘The difference between English and media studies’, Bazalgette writes, ‘is not simply the difference between the objects of study that each subject prefers. ‘8The point is made that the differences are more in depth, and as black and white as comparing two subjects on the surface. Balazgette points out that English so often studies the text as simply a text, a book or as piece of writing used for a purpose of study.

    Media studies, however, uses ‘a literary text as a commodity; something in which many people have a financial interest and of which copies are sold in order to make a profit. ‘9 The point is also made that when studying English, we write and think from a very personal point of view, only taking in to consideration how a piece of text affects you as a person, or makes you feel. Media studies asks you to think ‘how they address you – and other people – as a member of a group; as British or as a black person, or as a man for example.

    ’10 It is obvious that unlike English, studying all forms of media has direct links to our day to day lives in almost every instance, once again bearing political, economic and cultural significance. Media studies plays a huge role in making sense of political, economic and cultural meaning of everyday life. Whilst many traditionally view media studies as trivial due to it’s instability in terms of concrete ideals, it is this very fact that makes it so adaptable to everyday life. Like life itself, media studies is unpredictable and can adapt as the world does.

    This quality ensures that media studies is, and will continue to be in this technological age, incredibly relevant to whatever society it chooses to suit. It is ironic that educationalists claim that media studies offer no intellectual challenges, when the case for studying media is based on intellectual analyzing and understanding of current day social issues. The media surrounds our daily lives to such an extent that society would be better of educating ourselves on the day to day happenings of the media.

    Bibliography Bazalgette, G.”Why Media Studies is Worthwhile” in D Fleming (ed), Formations. A 21st Century Media Studies Textbook, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2000, pp3-16 Lumby, C “Bad Girls – The Media, Sex and Feminism in the 90’s”, Allen and Unwin, New South Wales, 1997 Neuman, J. “Lights, Camera, War – Is Media Technology Driving International Politics? “, St Martin’s Press, New York, 1996. pp3-12 Peterson, N ‘News Not Views’ Southwood Press, New South Wales, 1993, pp40-61 Wolfe, T, “The new Journalism”, Pan Books Ltd, London, 1975, pp20-25

    1 Bazalgette, G. “Why Media Studies is Worthwhile” in D Fleming (ed), Formations. A 21st Century Media Studies Textbook, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2000, p10 2 Peterson, N ‘News Not Views’ Southwood Press, New South Wales, 1993, p61 3 Bazalgette, G…….. p10 4 Ibid p11 5 Neuman, J. “Lights, Camera, War – Is Media Technology Driving International Politics? “, St Martin’s Press, New York, 1996. p8 6.

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