Monday, September 2, 2019

How Media Actually Affects the Culture of the Human Society Today Essay

Introduction The contemporary problem of a society which has a democratic and liberal political setting alongside a free market economic system or any society which gears towards such characterizations remains to be one that involves what contemporary political thinkers and scholars refer to as the notion of the plurality of values. Isaiah Berlin, for instance, considers what he called values pluralism as an inevitable consequence of the processes of democratization and liberalization. For the sake of clarity, it is but proper to lay down at the onset, what the task of this paper is. This paper’s task remains two-fold; first it seeks to explicate Thomas Frank’s views in his essay entitled, Why Johnny Can’t Dissent from the book, Commodify Your Dissent, and second, it aims to give substantive criticisms to Frank’s views and comment on how media and advertising have caused business culture and counterculture to become, essentially, one and the same; primarily answering the question â€Å"in what sense may they be considered as one and the same?† Relating the Thoughts of Frank with the Theories of Selznick Understanding the business industries today, it should occur to everyone that the said field of concern actually notes the impact of business upon the culture of the society today. Good manners involve showing consideration for the feelings of others, according them respect, treating them as we would like for them to treat us. Many have noted, however, that manners themselves have undergone a breakdown. Indeed, courtesy becomes one of the most wanted character among people which proves that the society lacks so much manners an is still lacking some as the years pass by. Certainly the idea of being polite have been used by many personalities in the human community today to conceal the real score behind politics and its connection with selfishness, hence making the society more prone to demands of fine manner which even people in authority fail to show. Children as young as five years of age are increasingly belligerent, disrespectful of other children’s property, lacking in respect for adults, and using obscene language. Most teachers surveyed feel that parents are spoiling their children and that this is the root cause of the increase in unsocial behavior. At one point, it could be said that the issue of display of fine manners starts decaying within the four walls of the homes where individual characters are developed within a person. Many factors concerning a child’s development have been causing social chaos as the children of certain generation grow to take over the society. As result the characters once set in a child to be right and acceptable causes problems to the society as they grow older. True, in many cases, the homes which are supposed to be the modeling clay of a person’s being becomes highly incapable of doing its part in making a better society for the future. Instead, divorces and other family failures present in the society today drives the very idea of the mistaken identity of the ‘wrong’ to become accepted in the human community.   The used to be ‘fine atmosphere’ of parks and playgrounds is now replaced with the view of groups of children ages nine to thirteen gathered in gangs and not by playmates. Even the children’s views of ‘fun’ have now changed to violence and authority. Certainly, world reports are mostly making much clear points on showing that the world’s moral belief and application is already falling off from the supposed needed application for the social development and peace to be highly implemented. Regarding these issues of moral-lack, Philip Selznick has produced a written repot on the needs of having moral standards back in the human society today. In the paragraphs to follow, the beliefs of the said author regarding the said issue shall be tackled and discussed for closer evaluation. Sociology and the Perfect Society   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The present human condition is dealing with so much problems and issues involving human morality. The values of moral, which are obviously lacking on the present human society is quite an obvious dilemma in the present system of things in the human community. Hence, it is necessary for the present human generation to recognize the need of bringing back morals in the society to be able to save the present generation from perishing in a moral basis. According to Selznick, â€Å"Morality is made for humans and not humans for morality† (Selznick, 12), this means that morality is a provision for the human generation and not a responsibility. In this regard, it is important for all humans that everyone recognizes the value of morals at all times. However, this truth has never been totally effective with the human generations that passed the world history. In many points of history, the human civilization has posted so much violence and disrespect for life. This is the exact opposite of what is morally accepted in the society.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   In this manner, it is indeed a factor of consideration that morals are also affected buy the different organizations that humans form in the society. Indeed, it is true, that by the existence of an influential environment, morals get so twisted and are thus mixed up with immoral beliefs. As Selznick says: â€Å"when it comes to bureaucracies, whatever their dysfunctions, hold open the possibility of overcoming local obligations in favor of more universalistic claims† (Selznick, 14). In this regard, it could be noticed that Selznick strongly points out that as an individual develops, the society goes with the development as well. However, since the individual population of today’s society seems to develop to a more negatively enhanced improvement, the society too becomes more negatively rooted as the years tend to pass. The Elements of a Perfect Community   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   According to Selznick, the real definition behind a society that is perfectly designed for living is based upon morals. He adds in his written work that â€Å"definitions in social theory should be weak, inclusive and relatively uncontroversial†, in this way, morals are preserved and the established by humans themselves do not intercept in the implication of what is morally accepted in the human community.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   He also adds that to be able to attain a perfectly created society, there are seven essential elements that should be considered. The seven elements are as follows: Historicity This defines the strong foundation of any community based upon the past of a certain group of society. The foundation of morals, which are already accepted in the said society, would be the basis of what is morally right. However, since time changes, morals too either develop or in some ways decrease in its strength through the test of time. Identity A society is indeed known through its identity of moral difference against other social groups. The way they are accepting morals usually differs from how others tend to accept morality as a part of their daily living. In this regard, the different societies are considered different form each one because of their own carried identity. Mutuality It is very important that everyone accept the moral standards set up for their own community. This way the social standards of morality could be considered highly practical and effective for everyone. This means that everybody within a society has mutual understanding and acceptance of what is considered righteous. Plurality The majority that accepts the moral values that are standardized for social reference is very important. The more there are who accepts the values to be morally righteous, the more effective the said principles are for everyone. Autonomy Everybody is bound to do what is right; they are bound to do what is accordingly acceptable with the set principles of morals within the society they are living in. However, it should still be recognized that every person has their own will, their own capability of deciding. This means that to be able to do what is right, a person must also consult his own thoughts and beliefs regarding what should be considered moral, basing from their own individual foundation of knowing what is right and wrong. Participation As earlier said, participation of the majority with regards to the acceptance of moral principles in the entire population of the society is an important factor of making or creating a perfect society. Integration Being able to integrate with the acceptable moral principles of the society is indeed an important part of making a completely peacefully interconnected society. Certainly, this means that being socially integrated within the community through moral principles is a basis of a perfect community. (Source: Selznick, Philip. (1994). The Moral Commonwealth: Social Theory and the Promise of Community (Centennial Books). University of California Press; Reprint edition.)   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   These factors of a community makes it possible for the entire population to realize their worth in the society. Being able to fully grasp the importance of being a part of the developments in a community indeed makes a person’s view of life and worth of living a more improved factor of his life.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   It is evident that Selznick wants to point out the importance of one’s satisfaction with his life and his worth to the society. This moves an individual to fully grasp the importance of his presence and the worth of his life to others, thus making a positive move to be able to do so, helps that person to become more righteous and positively inclined when it comes to the display of his manners.    As an overall view, Selznick’s theory with regards to a perfect society is indeed an epitome of social utopia derived from individual developments. The fact that as the basic sector of the community, the individual’s growth determines the society’s growth as well, Selznick points out that to have a perfect community, a person must not only realize his worth as an individual but as a part of a big society which needs his presence to grow in becoming more developed and socially mannered.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   Being a member of a community leaves a person certain responsibilities of being a continuous contributor towards the good of every one involved within the society as well. Constant observance of the moral values in the society is an important factor of creating a perfect kind of community, which makes it more livable for most of the population in the society.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   For these moments, it is important to reconsider morals to bring back the peaceful situations of a utopian model of a society. Although the world today has a hard time implementing the social principles of what is morally acceptable, the theories and elements of a perfect community as mentioned by Selznick is still indeed an effective way of implementing peace in a certain society; and thus if implemented, a society borne to peace and security is not far from being developed. However hard to apply the changes may be, it could still be expected that with ample effort, the aims of a perfect community could be achieved. These views of the said theorist has been further enhanced and introduced for social understanding. Likely, the understanding of such balance that makes a clear connection between media and popular culture is the main feature of Thomas Frank’s views.   Primarily, the focus of the discussion shall be centered upon the understanding of media and its implications with the social culture that is obviously one of the essential factors of a utopian society. Understanding Thomas Frank’s Views In this regard, with the aim of pursuing the understanding upon the views of Thomas Frank, the discussion in this paper shall then be stressed on the direct effects of the assumptions of the said expert with regards media and human culture. Adorno and Horkheimer, for instance, view commercialism, the weapon of capitalism in and through which it is possible to transform a society into a mediocre herd which prefers popular culture’s logic of style and false notions of values such as â€Å"individuality† over more pure expressions of truth, as the culprit for the erosion not only of societal values but also of culture. As they see it, commercialism made possible the existence of the â€Å"deceived masses† (133). The deception of the masses is a phenomenon that is worth the time to evaluate. How is this phenomenon possible? It is at this point that media and advertising steps into the scene. In Legal Philosophy, fundamental rights are those rights that are inalienable to human persons. An example of this kind of right is the right of free speech. The state’s recognition that free speech is a fundamental right that ought to be granted to individuals or citizens of a free democracy has crucial implications on the current problems of any state claiming to be â€Å"democratic†. For one, free speech, by virtue of being a fundamental right, paves the way for differing ideas, worldviews and values. In a liberal and democratic political setting, this is actually healthy. Ideally, it ensures that decisions are arrived at through proper deliberation. By proper deliberation, we refer to different ideas being examined critically through rational discourse. However, there had been considerably significant drawbacks to the recognition of free speech as a fundamental right and these drawbacks involve among many other things the core notions of social obligation and social responsibility that the press or the media ought to be mindful of in terms of proliferating false notions and values through the mechanism of advertising. Naturally, societies which adhere to the tenets of liberalism and democracy will be flooded by too many ideas, worldviews and values. This is an accurate characterization of current liberal and democratic societies. Capitalism, in itself, has a commercial mechanism which Barthes calls â€Å"censorship by repletion† (185). Commercialism thus, produces confusion and perhaps, intellectual anarchy, by flooding too many false notions as exemplified in the slogans that capitalists use to market their products. In a certain sense, the rise of commercialism endangers the very fabric of society; society’s cultural, historical and intellectual heritage. Eventually, marketing and advertising were able to replace political discourse. People, oftentimes readily accept the truthfulness of advertisements. They rarely take the time to think for themselves the truthfulness of slogans and advertisements on the television and the Internet. Such a setting of course, poses serious threats not only on the individual but more importantly, to the whole of society. We seem to forget that we have an important epistemic obligation, that is, not to accept the truth of a belief or a statement unless we have sufficient evidence for it. Undeniably, popular culture affects how the current generation thinks and reasons. To a certain extent, popular culture predisposes and moulds our children to behave and more importantly, to think in such and such ways. Culture, being a way of life, is a social phenomenon; it is the society which creates culture. It is the society which creates certain patterns of living, as argued by some social theorists. The idea is that it is ultimately, the people who draft their culture and their history. This idea is however, threatened by commercialism and capitalism. Vein Lasn adds up to this idea: â€Å"Culture isn’t created from the bottom up by the people anymore – it’s fed to us top-down by corporations† (189). What Van Lasn is pointing out is the fact that the market is too powerful a force that dictates culture. In Frank’s view, the corporate world feeds on the masses’ desire to individuality. The capitalists exploit this desire to be different, to be unique, or to stand out by linking the notion of individuality with a certain product that they sell on the market. The commercial mechanism of capitalism is, as stated earlier in the discussion, is the media through advertising. Businesses make extensive use of media and advertising to get the attention of the consumers. Capitalism, through media and advertising commodifies values such as individuality. By linking the false notion of individuality to a certain commodity, consumers think that they are unique, that they are different. A deeper analysis however reveals that the aforementioned claim to individuality is nothing but an illusion; a figment of the mind manufactured and institutionalized by capitalists. It is not only the case that it is manufactured and institutionalized; it is also sold to the consumers. Frank offers a metaphor: â€Å"The race track, the plane on which all individuals race for stardom, is run by those who create and instill conformity. The harder one tries to rebel, the deeper they play into the new consumer hip world, thus defeating their original goal entirely†. At this point, it would be discussed how media and advertising marketed the idea of rebellion and how the subversive youth counterculture became, in itself, an affirmation not of individuality but of conformity. The quoted statement above from the last paragraph of Frank’s essay raises considerably significant issues that need to be dealt with accordingly. As Frank sees it, the race for individuality is a race that can never be won. The problem, as he sees it, is the fact that the â€Å"race track† or the playing field is in itself, owned by those who create and instill conformity – the capitalists. In addition to this, the aforementioned race cannot be won simply because it is the capitalist who dictates the rules. As a matter of fact, they do so because they are the ones who create the rules. So, following Frank’s reasoning in his metaphor, it is indeed the case that no matter how one tries to rebel, one inevitably gets caught up, entangled with the webs of commercialism and capitalism. The goal to be non-conformists is in vain. Why is this so? As Frank sees it, the current youth counterculture and its attempt to rebel involves a contradiction at its very core. Frank argues that â€Å"consumerism is no longer about conforming but about difference† (113). How did this happen? In the preceding discussions, consumerism is associated with conformity but why is it that Frank now claims that it is about difference? For him, the answer is simple. The youth counterculture rebels through material means like fashion and clothing or cars. The idea of individuality, the idea of being unique or different is limited to the shallow definition that the youth appropriates for itself. Consumerism is no longer about conforming but about difference, as Frank claims, since individuals are desperately trying not to conform but by trying not to conform, they end up conforming. Indeed, conforming and not-conforming becomes one and the same since they all play by the rules of the game; and the rules of the game as stated earlier, are created and thereby, controlled by the capitalists. Frank also makes mention of how the television makes significant contributions to the deception of the masses. It makes them believe that they are in control of themselves and their lives. On a superficial level, one may think that one is free in choosing the kind of television shows that he or she may choose according to the dictates of his or her will. The problem is however, much more complex and to think in the way described above is an oversimplification of the problem. It simply misses the point, so to speak. For even the shows on the television are dictated by the â€Å"fad†, by what is considered hip during a particular point in time. As Frank states: â€Å"hip is their official ideology† (121). Conclusion   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   Certainly, manners have already become a lesser element that is concentrated upon by the society today. Likely, the aim of being industrially known throughout the world has made the present society lesser concerned about morals, for as long as they are able to persuade the society to take consideration in giving attention to their product offerings no matter what it takes. Confidently, many people are able to live their lives even though they are considering less focus upon the morals that they are implying upon in the growth of the entire society. In this manner, they are then having a hard time relating the present situation of the society with the idealism of a modern social utopia as per suggested by Selznick. Obviously, Thomas Frank actually explains that this particular factor in the society has already been lost by the human generation as they began embracing the trends of industrialization thus jumping into the band wagon of popular culture and modern commercialism along the way.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   Obviously,   as the years has passed the human generations that are existing at present, the idealism of a modern social utopia has been lost to the aims of gaining much profit for a more economically progressive society. Understandably, the measure of the possibility of making a more socially moral community of humans in the world today becomes more and more involved with the influential factors that hold the key towards the believed progression that has been longed for by the human society. Through the use of media and advertising, the morals of the humanity actually begins to fade as it embraces the effects of globalization that also consequently subject major moral rules to jeopardy for the sake of continuing the advancements of the society that is highly wanted by the entire human generation today. References: Adorno and Horkheimer. The Dialectic of the Enlightenment. Herder and Herder, c. 1972. Barthes, R. Image, Music, Text. Hill, c. 1977. Frank, Thomas. â€Å"Why Johnny Can’t Dissent.† Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from The Baffler. W. W. Norton & Company; 1st ed., c. 1997. The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip   Ã‚  Consumerism. University of Chicago Press, c. 1997. Lasn, K. Culture Jam: The Uncooling of America. Eagle Brook, c. 1999. Levinson, Sanford. Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong And   Ã‚     Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  How We the People Can Correct It. Oxford University Press, c. 2006. Sunstein, Cass. Why Societies Need Dissent. Harvard University Press, c. 2003. Selznick, Philip. (1994). The Moral Commonwealth: Social Theory and the Promise of Community (Centennial Books). University of California Press; Reprint edition.

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