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McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Critical Theories of Mass Media: Then and Now / Edition 1

Critical Theories of Mass Media: Then and Now / Edition 1

by Paul Taylor, Jan HarrisPaul Taylor


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"This is a welcome critical corrective to complacent mainstream accounts of the media's cultural impact".

Prof. Slavoj Zizek, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London

"A powerful and highly engaging re-assessment of past critical thinkers (including those not normally thought of as critical) in the light of today's mediascape".

Jorge Reina Schement, Distinguished Professor of Communications, Penn State University

With the exception of occasional moral panics about the coarsening of public discourse, and the impact of advertising and television violence upon children, mass media tend to be viewed as a largely neutral or benign part of contemporary life. Even when criticisms are voiced, the media chooses how and when to discuss its own inadequacies. More radical external critiques are often excluded and media theorists are frequently more optimistic than realistic about the negative aspects of mass culture.

This book reassesses this situation in the light of both early and contemporary critical scholarship and explores the intimate relationship between the mass media and the dis-empowering nature of commodity culture. The authors cast a fresh perspective on contemporary mass culture by comparing past and present critiques. They:

  • Outline the key criticisms of mass culture from past critical thinkers
  • Reassess past critical thought in the changed circumstances of today
  • Evaluate the significance of new critical thinkers for today's mass culture

The book begins by introducing the critical insights from major theorists from the past - Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, Theodor Adorno, Marshall McLuhan and Guy Debord. Paul Taylor and Jan Harris then apply these insights to recent provocative writers such as Jean Baudrillard and Slavoj Žižek, and discuss the links between such otherwise apparently unrelated contemporary events as the Iraqi Abu Ghraib controversy and the rise of reality television.

Critical Theories of Mass Media is a key text for students of cultural studies, communications and media studies, and sociology.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780335218110
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Publication date: 12/01/2007
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.71(d)

About the Author

Paul A. Taylor is Senior Lecturer in Communications Theory, University of Leeds, UK.

Jan Ll. Harris is an independent scholar.

Table of Contents

Chapter outlines     ix
Acknowledgements     xiii
Introduction     1
Walter Benjamin's 'Work of art' essay     17
Siegfried Kracauer's mass ornament     39
Theodor Adorno and the culture industry     62
Marshall McLuhan's understanding of the media     85
Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle     107
Introduction to Part 2     131
The culture of celebrity     133
Banality TV: the democratization of celebrity     155
The politics of banality: the ob-scene as the mis-en-scene     177
Conclusion     198
Notes     215
Bibliography     223
Index     235

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