The study of the mass media from a social perspective. The media are regarded by sociologists as major social, economic, and political institutions and important agents of socialization exercising considerable influence on cultural forms and imagery. Sociologists stress the social context of media technologies, and of the production and use of media content (see also social determinism). Media sociology focuses on issues such as media content (e.g. representation, bias, stereotyping); ownership and control (e.g. censorship, commercialization, cross-media ownership, media controls, media ownership, regulation); ideological influences (e.g. media hegemony, the manufacture of consent); issues of democracy (e.g. agenda-setting, access, the information rich and poor); media audiences (e.g. uses and gratifications, two-step flow); and media cultures (e.g. the organizational cultures and occupational practices and routines of advertising and news). It also explores broad themes such as the implications of the media in relation to homogenization versus fragmentation (see also consensus; integration; weak ties), or to the shifting and blurring boundaries of the public and private spheres. Critical media sociology emerged in the critical theory of the Frankfurt school. See also political economy.
Subjects: Media Studies.