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Mass Media Sociology Essay Rubric

Several monographs and readers demonstrate the breadth of sociological analysis of the media. Hardt 2001 discusses how key sociological questions informed early media research in Europe. Hesmondhalgh and Toynbee 2008 confirms the persistent importance of “thinking sociologically” about key issues in contemporary media. The classic compilation Gurevitch, et al. 1982 captures lively theoretical and empirical debates about news, culture, and institutions in media sociology in the late 1970s. Scannell 2007 and Stevenson 2002 are examples of sophisticated sociological analysis of media and communication. Overviews of contemporary sociological questions in media research are included in Tumber 2000 and Tunstall 2001. Benson and Neveu 2005 claims that the work of Pierre Bourdieu remains a rich source of ideas for the study of news media and journalism.

  • Benson, Rodney, and Erik Neveu, eds. 2005. Bourdieu and the journalistic field. Cambridge, MA: Polity.

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    A stimulating collection on Bourdieu’s contributions to the study of journalism. Contributors discuss the merits and limitations of his wide-ranging ideas. Despite disagreements about the value of his assessments about the state of contemporary media, they agree that Bourdieu offers valuable theoretical insights for media studies.

  • Gurevitch, Michael, Tony Bennett, James Curran, and Janet Woollacott, eds. 1982. Culture, society, and the media. London: Methuen.

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    This collection features classic articles, such as those by Hall, Murdock, Blumler and Gurevitch, and Boyd-Barrett, that bring up critical issues in the study of media and society. The book discusses the impact of economic, cultural, and political forces on media institutions and offers theory-rich analysis of media developments.

  • Hardt, Hanno. 2001. Social theories of the press: Constituents of communication research, 1840s to 1920s. 2d ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

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    Hardt has written a valuable overview of classic German social theory that influenced early US communication research and still offers plenty of conceptual insights to understand contemporary media. The book discusses a range of theories and concepts that are particularly central to critical and cultural studies.

  • Hesmondhalgh, David, and Jason Toynbee, eds. 2008. The media and social theory. London: Routledge.

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    A collection of critical essays that show why social theory matters in understanding contemporary media. The authors link arguments in classic and current theories to the analysis of media industries and content. Collectively, the authors show the merits and blind spots of critical theory.

  • Scannell, Paddy. 2007. Media and communication. London: SAGE.

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    A comprehensive examination of social theory in the study of media and communication. Scannell chronologically reviews the work of key sociologists who influenced theoretical and empirical research in the field.

  • Stevenson, Nick. 2002. Understanding media cultures: Social theory and mass communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    An overview of social theories and media analysis that demonstrates the diversity of conceptual frameworks and research questions in the field. It makes a strong case for why sociological theories offer considerable insights into central questions to study contemporary media.

  • Tumber, Howard, ed. 2000. Media power, professionals, and policies. London: Routledge.

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    This volume covers key topics in media studies: policy, power, management, professionalism, and identity. Several chapters (particularly those by Tumber, Philip Schlesinger, Rodney Tiffen, and Simon Frith) demonstrate the uses of sociological analysis to examine media performance and change.

  • Tunstall, Jeremy, ed. 2001. Media occupations and professions: A reader. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    The book features a range of essays dealing with issues related to professionalism in the media. Media occupations uneasily fit conventional understanding of professions, given multiple educational and career paths, requirements, status, and so on. The authors tackle key questions to understand why and how diverse media occupations can rightly be considered professions.

  • Sociology 43, University of Vermont, CRN #11580, 2:20-3:10, MWF, Rowell 118

    What's this course about?

    This course looks at the social role and importance of modern media of communication and culture, from the book to the internet. It’s a sociology course, not a “how-to” media course (though it teaches things that should be useful to people who want to work in or with the media). It takes a serious look at the sociological literature and theoretical issues involved in understanding how the media functions in society. It explores questions like the following: What role have media like newspapers, television, and the internet played in making the modern world the way it is? What happens when so much of our communication happens on a "mass" basis, between people who don't see or even know each other? How can we study the signs, symbols, and cultural meanings that make up media messages? How are the media organized, and how does organizational form shape content? What difference does it make, for example, if media are funded with, say, advertising or tax money?

    The schedule/study guide page, accessible by clicking on the menu, tell you what the assignments are and when they are due, and also serve as the course’s study guide. Each page contains instructions, overviews of concepts, and questions to guide you as you work through the course material. Details may change during the semester; it is your responsibility to check the online syllabus regularly to make sure you are keeping up with changes. (If you are looking for an easy or entertaining course, please read this.)

    There is one required textbook for the course, David Croteau and William Hoynes, Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences, FIFTH EDITION, available at the UVM store or from online sources. Many other readings are available through online electronic reserve, accessible from the schedule/study guide pages. Click on one of the headings to select the scheduled readings and assignments for the course. (When asked for a name and password, use your UVM netid.)

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