Or postmodernists, the debate on whether the mass media has created a mass culture is no longer tenable. Evaluate this claim.

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The essay Question
For postmodernists, the debate on whether the mass media has created a mass culture is no longer tenable. Evaluate this claim.
Define mass media and mass culture and the post modernist view on mass media.
Highlight the Arguments of Famous Post moderns theorists like Jean Baudrillard ( Baudrillard J (1994 ) The Illusion of the End, Oxford University press PP23, 27,31,34,36,107. And Baudrillard j. 1996 perfect crime pp 16,83,125,128. Zygmunt Bauman Adorno ( Horkheimer, Max and Adorno,theodor (1972) the Dialect of Enlightment . New York Herder and Herder.
Outline the theories of Mass Communication ( See Mcquail D( 1987)Mass communication theory London U.K Sage pp 51-78)
Marxist critical theory
Hegemony theory
Frankfurt School
What effect does mass media have on contemporary culture?
First theorists to examine this critical question were collectively known as the Frankfurt School
Founders of this school of Marxism included Marcuse (1898 1979) Adorno (1903 1969) and Horkenheimer (1995 1973)
Took a critical position, arguing that mass culture operated to stop the proletariat from revolting against their dominated position
For The Frankfurt School, the universal and commercialised mass culture was viewed as one important means by which the continued success of capitalism had been achieved
The commodity is the main instrument of this process because both art and culture could be marketed for profit at the cost of losing critical power
Commodity fetishism (paintings, concert tickets, designer clothes etc)
Marcuse (1964) argued that this mass consumption society had made the working class soulless and one-dimensional, dependant upon the false needs sold to them by the cultural industry
 True needs were freedom, happiness and a new egalitarian society
Believing themselves to be happy, the working classes live in a  euphoria of unhappiness pacified by  bread and circuses
Left-wing literary critics such as George Orwell and Raymond Williams (the  Romantic-Left ) had expressed concern about the nature and effects of mass culture


Political economic theory
Mass Society theory
And Compare these theories with the post modernists
Criticism to the Post modernist Theory
e.g McQuail (2005) summarises the key features of the debate surrounding popular culture thus:
popular culture represents the power of the people
There is quality in being popular
Popular culture has universal appeal
popular culture is important to many subgroup identities
Questions remain about aspects of quality
Postmodern writers basically argue that the old distinctions between  high and  low culture are no longer tenable
Living in today s society is a fragmented, fleeting, transitory experience where individuals can choose their own identities, freed from the  old constraints of their socioeconomic status
McQuail(2005) summarises the postmodern view thus:
There are no longer any reliable large organising ideas about culture
and society
There are no fixed cultural values
Experiences and reality are illusory
New qualities in culture are novelty itself, humour, pastiche and shock
Commercial culture is postmodern culture


This view of the nature of popular culture is closely linked to the postmodernist perspective
it is argued that the mass media are mainly to blame for the development of  mass culture or what some have called a  plastic culture
As McQuail notes:

 the most widely disseminated and enjoyed symbolic culture of our time& is what flows in abundance by way of the media of films, television, newspapers, video and so on. It makes little sense to suppose that this flow can in some way be dammed, turned back or purified& Indeed it is now impossible to distinguish between a sphere of culture and that of media, as once could have been done (McQuail, 2005: 118)
However, he argues that there is:
 some opportunity for observing cultural shifts at moments of development in technology, as with the  new media & There is still an axis of critical thinking that can be applied to what we observe. There is still many new problematic (as well as positive) features of culture in the media age to be studied and debated (McQuail, 2005: 134)


Recommended sources
Hassan Uhab (1985) the culture of post modernism Theory ,culture and society vol 2 pp 119-132
Hall stuart ( 1992) The west and the rest pp 1-16 in Formations in modernity edited by Stuart hall and B Gieben Cambridge u.k Polity
Halls, and Mcgrew T (2003) Modernity and its Futures Cambrigde U.K Polity pp222-256
Kellner Douglas (ed) (1994)Jean Baudriallard a critical reader Oxford basil Blackwell
Kellner Douglas (ed) (1995) media culture , cultural studies , Identity and politics between the modern and the post modern London Routledge
McQuail, D. (2005). Mass Communication Theory: An Introduction. London: Routledge
McCullagh, C. 2002. Media Power: A Sociological Introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
See guidance notes attached