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Political Economy

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Essay title: Political Economy

Political Economy

Our society is strongly influenced by all sources of media. The media shows us what is going on in the world news, fashion and much more. The media is our connection to the world and what goes on all around us. The political economy approach looks at the influence that ownership control, advertising and audience spending has over the mass media and the mediated messages we receive on a daily basis.

Political economy believes that everything about media products is created through structural features (ownership, advertising and audience spending). The industries and businesses that the media works for and out of are organized through the economic and political factors of our economy. Political economy stresses that private ownership has a major influence on the content and structure of the media.

There are three viewpoints on ownership control Kevin Williams discusses in Understanding Media Theory. First, Marxist political economy believes that there is a direct link between ownership and control. An owner determines who, what facts and what ideas the public actually sees.

Second, Structuralists say it is impossible to have a direct relationship between ownership and control. Structuralists believe that an owner is not physically able to keep up with the operations of mediated messages made on a daily basis. There are too many messages made for an owner to look over and ok before production. Instead Structuralists believe to have allocative control. Allocative control allows a group of individuals to define the overall goals of the media organization and the financial policy.

Third, the pluralists and post-modernists completely reject the Marxist approach of political economy. They believe that the consumer determines the output of the media. As a consumer you are able to decide what you want to watch or read. You are also able to interpret and take away the message you want to take from the mediated message you come in contact with (even if it is not what the media organization was trying to say).

Advertising is another part of the political economy approach. Owners yet again are in charge of the messages portrayed through advertising. They send out a message in order to sell their product or service in order to make the most profit possible. To be able to make the most profit owners and advertisers must reach out their advertisements to the right people. They must satisfy the needs of the consumer with the most spending power.

A possible hole in the political economy approach is the lack of acknowledging the audience and what they want. All the political economy approach cares about is the economy and ways that they can make the economy better. They care only about the production of the media and the mediated message that is portrayed.


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