Brief thoughts on Ideology and the Media

Ever wonder how stereotypes, narrative structures, ‘point of view’, order of events, narrative ending and hierarchy of discourses contribute to the building of a dominant ideology?  This is how I would critique Ideology as a concept.


Ideology can be defined as a system of normalised ideals and morals shared by the majority of a society. However, as a concept, it is seen as a system of ideals normalised with thanks to a higher hegemony. As Karl Marx states, ideology is controlled by the ruling class and used as trick to create an illusion of fairness and harmony. While this plainly brings into question human agency and free will, an ideology is not set in stone, and therefore, one could argue, that those under power still have the ability to change it. Gramsci claims that audience awareness is evident and cultural domination is always in contention. This, if applied to the media, is a valid and positive argument to make.

O’Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler define the narrative as a ‘basic way of making sense of our experience.’ Generally speaking, we, as human beings, tend to think of all of our experiences through narrative. With the most basic of narrative structure containing a beginning, middle, and end, points of view can make a big impact on how we view the world that is presented to us. For example, if a television narrative is shown through the point of view of a woman, the dominant ideology could be one of feminism and equality. If a film narrative is shown through the point of view of a male, the dominant ideology could be one of a patriarchy. However, if the ending of this film shows a woman saving the day, or if she delivers the dominant discourse of matriarchy at some point in the film, the opposite could also be true. Through narrative, stereotypes can also be shown. For example, Hollywood, even now, very rarely has feminine protagonists as a lead subject in its films. This reinforces gender stereotypes and holds true to the belief that we, as free agents, live in a gender biased culture.


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