Sunday, February 28, 2010

Janet Woollacott (1982: 108-110) offers a useful critique of Policing the Crisis, a key work by Stuart Hall et al.(1978). The work reflects an analysis of the signifying practices of the mass media from the perspective of Marxist culturalist theory inflected through Gramsci's theory of hegemony, and 'an Althusserian conception of the media as an ideological state apparatus largely concerned with the reproduction of dominant ideologies', claiming relative autonomy for the mass media (Woollacott 1982: 110). For Hall et al. the mass media do tend to reproduce interpretations which serve the interests of the ruling class, but they are also 'a field of ideological struggle'. The media signification system is seen as relatively autonomous. 'The news' performs a crucial role in defining events, although this is seen as secondary to the primary definers: accredited sources in government and other institutions. The media also serve 'to reinforce a consensual viewpoint by using public idioms and by claiming to voice public opinion' (Woollacott 1982: 109).

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