Hell in a Hand-basket: Technological Determinism and Social Constuctivism

Is technological determinism a valid way of looking at the world?

For those who don’t know, technological determinism is a philosophy that follows the idea that technology’s development follows a preconceived course, a logical progression, advances automatically, effects our way of engaging with the world and is a natural extension of the body. Through this approach to media materialism (which is the way in which we ground our understanding of media technology and its past and future advancement) is an interesting way of looking at the development of technology, as it looks at technology as an appendage, an extension of the human body in order to help humanity, encouraging progress through logic and science.

However technological determinism isn’t the best way of looking at media materialism as we don’t get every piece of the puzzle. There are other philosophies which follow very different ideals, such as social constructivism which says that because we made technology we have the ability to regulate and control how it’s used. It also disagrees with technological determinism in the way that technology advances automatically in an almost uncontrollable way. This theory tends to fall under the more social, cultural and ethical guidelines concerning technology, and many see it as a hindrance to the progress of science as it sparks much debate around progress. Such debate can be seen in most, if not all sci-fi films which caution viewers of the cost of humanity and scientific progress on humanity and the world itself.

Social constructivism outlines the fact that the progress of technology is not a straight line as technological determinism states, but rather a rocky, murky and unpredictable line. It is also a somewhat romanticized view of the world and in this way hinders the logical technological progression, and sometimes abrupt and unethical ways (e.g. sweat shops creating smart phones) of the technological determinists who create progress within society. Hence, both philosophies equalize each other and create a balanced view of the world, but only when they work together as opposed to standing apart at opposite ends of progress.

Hell in a Hand-basket: Media Materialism and the Anthropocene

Today Dan Binns talked to us about media materialism and the anthropocene.

Media materialism is a way of looking at and grounding our understanding of media technology (Binns, 2015). It forces us to look back at media technologies and realises that even though technology may seem brilliant and futuristic, it is only an enabler for what we are physically able to do, that is the’cloud’ isn’t really a cloud, it is created physically and grounded somewhere, just as the internet and YouTube aren’t all floating in hyperspace, but really have an actual physical location. Media materialism seeks to show that technologies have a realistic foundation.

There are two distinct schools of thought within media materialism: technological determinism and social constructivism. Technological determinism relies upon the ideas that technology has a preconceived course, a logical progression, that technology advances automatically and that technology effects our way of interacting with the world, even to the extent of being a natural extension of our bodies (Binns, 2015). Dziga Vertov took this concept one step further and created films around the concept that the camera was his eye and body, such as “The Man with a Movie Camera” (Vertov, 1929):

Social constructivism on the other hand believes that since humanity created technology we have the ability to control how its used and regulated, that no matter how radical the technology becomes we’ll still have the ability to control it (Binns, 2015). Social constructivism however presents many other ideas, such as the issue of ethics in the creation of technology and the idea that the production of technology is not a straight line, but rather a rocky, murky, unpredictable one, which many see as a hindrance to the progress of such technologies (Binns, 2015).

It is also accused of producing a rather romanticised version of the world, as many texts demonstrate a clear criticism of our creation of such advanced technologies that, even though we created them, have clearly grown out of our grasp, such as “I, Robot” (Proyas, 2004), and even as far back as “Metropolis” (Lang, 1927), both of which depict an A.I. entity created by humankind, that soon spirals out of control to endanger humanity. All of this occurring in the 197 years since Frankenstein was first published (Binns, 2015). Since then the lines between man and machine are constantly becoming more and more blurred as science fiction explores the very real possibility of humanity getting ‘too big for their breeches’.

One particular text which Dan showed us and I found very interesting was a short film created by Quantic Dream called “Kara”, what was originally supposed to be a beta for a game turned into a 7 minute short film about the concept and reality of constructing A.I robots in the visage and mind of humans:

This then brought up the holocene, the age in which we are now, characterised by the heating of the planet, the rise of human supremacy, the dis-allowance of a natural reset (the ice age had a natural reset) due to technology programming itself into the natural chemistry of the planet (Binns, 2015). However, McKenzie Wark believes that we have now entered a new age – the anthropocene, the age of the human. Wark also believes that in this new age since we’re “going to hell in a hand-basket”, it should force new ways of looking at the world, creating new non-hypocritical theories and ways of sorting through problems (Binns, 2015). Hopefully, this new age of the anthropocene will bring about a new way of looking at media mateialism and technology itself that will help steer humanity towards a much brighter future.

– Binns, Daniel. Week 12 Lectorial. May 26th 2015.

Institutions Project Update: Week 5

Today we worked on our project some more. In our group we worked together to go through all the work we’ve accomplished so far and collate it onto our site. It’s coming together rather nicely so far, all of the images and text are up but the videos of the interview, Rupert Murdoch, and my video essay are still to be completed and will be posted later in the week.

The site is really coming together, and even though when we first set out we imagined creating a clear platform dividing both traditional and new media in two, it seems as we progress through our tasks and we develop our ideas more, through this website based collaboration, that the two forms are blurring into one, as traditional media institutions aim to produce more viral and entertaining content and modern media institutions aim to produce more factual and credible content, effectively evening each other out and reaching an equilibrium.

We also created ‘learning graphs’, graphs which objectively assess how much we think we’ve progressed in our first semester. Basically, I just drew a bunch of squiggly lines heading up, because this whole semester has just been a crazily amazing learning curve, and I’ve loved every second of absorbing it all.

Remixes: DJing and VJing

In this weeks lectorial Dan Binns talked to us about the nature of remixing media and how in todays society it is omnipresent. Remixing has become a part of popuar culture, and one of the ways in which Dan explained the concept of remixing original work to create new work to us, was DJs.

The term DJ comes from the nickname ‘Disc Jockey’ given to those who would play and introduce the songs on the radio. As time progressed the DJs became more proficient at changing songs and eventually developed techniques for smoother transitions between songs. DJs were invited to play music at clubs and private parties, and soon the art took on a life of its own with the invention of the twin turntable system, allowing the seemless transition between tracks, familiarly used in the disco era as pretty much every song had the same base line and therefore created a smooth transition between each song. As technology developed to produce better quality sound for records, DJs quickly adopted it for themselves, and this ‘tradition’ of sorts continues today as our DJs have become something entirely different to a ‘Disc Jockey’, they have become artists in their own right taking inspiration and samples from other artists works to create entirely new pieces of music.

However, in the era of consdtant entertainment and visual stimuli, a new form of ‘Jockey’ has come into popularity – the VJ. “In the 80’s and 90’s, the term “VJ” was popularly considered the video version of radio “Disc Jockeys,” the person who introduced the next song on television.

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, as the world of DJing evolved beyond simple curation of music with specializations like scratching, sampling, remixing and the like, so have VJs expanded their set of tools and techniques for live performance and production.

Today someone who is a VJ might appear to be something more akin to a video instrumentalist or visualistsomeone who creates and manipulates images in ways similar to how a modern musician works with sound.” (Lublin, 2014)

VJs are artists “capable of bridging the worlds of preproduction, live performance and post production.” (Lublin, 2014). The artistic techniques and effects used by VJs are those reminiscent of and similar to “early film special effects and avant garde video artists from the 60’s and 70’s.” (Lublin, 2014).

Over time just as different remix genres were created in the music industry, different sub-genres of VJing were created as well (Lublin, 2014). Some of the most common sub-genres are:

  • “Show Visuals”

Sufjan Stevens / Age of Adz in Prospect Park with visuals by CandyStations.

  • “Media Remixing”

Eclectic Method who remixed 50 years of Doctor Who for the BBC.

  • “Live Cinema”

The Light Surgeons, Super Everything*

  • “Set Design”

New Creatures – Red Bull Murals: “A Heros Journey”

  • “Interactive Installations”

Syfy Upfront event by LEADDOG CREATØRS

  • “Film and Music Video Production”

Death Cab for Cutie, You Are a Tourist, a live shot, scripted, one-take music video shoot. Production by GoodCompany w/ Nicholas Gould.

  • “Art Objects” (Lublin, 2014).

Compendium by Will Reardon

Remixing is the way of the future, creating new from old, unfortunately the ‘old’ does not believe this as it still holds on tightly to its intellectual property rights and copyright agreements, suing remixers left and right for as much cash as possible. When will human kind learn to share instead of hold onto its ‘property’ for dear life?

– Lublin, David. “VJing. WTF Is It?” Oct. 1st 2014. Available at: http://www.davidlubl.in/blog/2014/vjing-wtf-is-it

Institutions Project Update: Week 4

On Monday we got together during our regular class time (since Robbie wasn’t there) and worked together to create a video filtering a speech presented by Rupert Murdoch. Jess transcribed the speech so that we could work together to pick apart what he said and twist it into unique and hilarious sentences that all somehow worked to create a love letter from Murdoch to his institutions. Although we found it progressively difficult at times to edit the audio, it is always interesting to find ways in which to overcome such obstacles.

I also worked more on the biographies which will focus on seven institutions spanning both traditional mediums, such as print and television news media, and blogging/social media. These institutions which I am focusing on and which have a great deal of influence within Australia are: The Age, Herald Sun, Channel ten, SBS, BuzzFeed, Humans of New York and the YouTube channel; the VlogBrothers. These biographies will feature on our multi-media platform and will act as a way of showing our visitors the ways in which such institutions can influence the way in which we access information.

We also interviewed Philip Dearman, asking him a range of questions:

  1. What do you think is the biggest difference between traditional and new media?
  2. How do you think the evolution of new media has affected traditional media e.g. journalism?
  3. How do you think journalism has evolved in recent times?
  4. What kind of effect do you think media ownership has on the material produced in journalism?
  5. What do you think is the role of politics in sources? For example, newspapers and other traditional media using only government officials as sources.
  6. Could you talk about the (potential) difference in ethics between traditional and modern media institutions? e.g. traditional media institutions are run for profit, whereas some modern media institutions are not.

It was very interesting hearing from the head of journalism at RMIT and seeing what his perspective on the issues we presented were.

I hope to find information on the comparison of different ways in which news is presented on TV, such as discussion based, like Q and A and the Project, Current Affairs, such as A Current Affair and Today Tonight, and Regular Nightly News, such as SBS World News and Channel 9 news.

I also hope to find another journalist to interview, and hopefully gain another person’s interesting perspective on such interesting issues.

The Remix and the Glitch: Breaking Things Since 1930(ish)

“There is no such thing as an original idea.” – Dan Binns. As Dan told us this (again), it didn’t feel very reassuring/inspirational, but as he continued to speak and said that it’s how we “deliver [content] in new and interesting ways [that matters]”, it did start to feel a little inspirational, especially when one of the readings this week was this:

Everything is a Remix Part 2 by Kirby Ferguson.

‘Kill Bill’ (Tarantino, 2003) has so many different references in it, but uses all of them in such a unique way. It is so interesting to uncover the inspiration behind a piece like Kill Bill, especially to find out that so many different pieces worked together to create the one entirely different and iconic film. And that is what the topic of remixing is all about, creating the new from the already existent.

Remixing started around 1929 when the use of synchronous sound in film was popularised. Remixing was popularly used by surrealism, post-cubism and dadaism, not in the same way we know it today, but in the way that they deconstructed footage of objects and people and then edited it in a way so that it created a general theme, such as ‘Ballet Mecanique’ (Leger, 1924), which uses close ups of regular household objects and people, then edits the footage and combines it with sound in such a way that the people seem to be mechanical:

Dan explained the evolution of remix to us through the creation of the DJ (which I will explore in a further post along with the newly created VJ), showing us a documentary on song remixes and one particular DJ, Girl Talk. Girl Talk’s song ‘This is the Remix’ uses 34 tracks:

This immense use of track sampling shows how an original piece of art can be created from already existant works. Other examples of remix art that have come about in recent years are pop art (signifies a society/era with familiarity which is then subverted in strange, unique and ironic ways):


– Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Drowning Girl’

and glitch art (which breaks the rules of the original form in which the art took place, exploiting a something ‘wrong’ to create something completely different):


Dan spoke to us about many different scholars, including Walter Benjamin, a German scholar whose works originated from the Frankfurt school at Gurter University. His most influential piece (in terms of current ideas on remixing), is ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, an analysis of how mechanical reproduction (as opposed to man-made manual reproductions) detract from the uniqueness and authority of the original, as well as lack the “aura” of the original (Benjamin, 1936).

Benjamin’s theories on how reproducing something changes the original product, changes the authenticity of the original product (as it lacks the environment of the original product), as well as how forms of reproduction, such as film, have become a form of art, all contribute in a way to the current views of remix in society. Benjamin goes on to say that film itself is “the most powerful agent” of the “contemporary mass movements”, that its “social significance, particularly in its most positive form, is inconceivable without its destructive, cathartic aspect, that is, the liquidation of the traditional value of the cultural heritage.” (Benjamin, 1936)

I think that Benjamin clearly did not foresee the incredible uniqueness and diversity of expression that has come from film and photography, even programming. Although, I can understand his point of view, as in today’s culture the number of people using a pen and paper as opposed to a laptop is dwindling, and pretty soon art will have taken on an entirely new technological form, and hence a new culture.

Benjamin also brings up the concept of distance, that is a mechanical reproduction does not have sufficient distance in its appearance or structure to be unique to the original in the way a manually recreated piece would. Distance is also brought up in another way by Benjamin, as he speaks of a “detachment” created by the mechanical reproduction, that separates you from the original. This is where Benjamin theorises the idea of the “aura”. The aura to Benjamin is little more than a feeling but, when in the presence of the original, you can feel its aura, due to its history, authenticity and authority as an object, whereas the mechanical reproduction is cut off from this aura as it does not have these same qualities, is not unique and is one of many as opposed to one (Benjamin, 1936).

A physical work of art, such as a painting is planted in a specific time and place, so is more able to have an aura.However, I do feel that there is an element of the aura that Benjamin did not account for in terms of reproductions, as when we watch a film or TV show for the first time in a unique setting, we remember that feeling of that first time watching it, and I know personally that I have tried in vain innumerable times to recreate that atmosphere and hence aura, of that first time watching that film, but as Benjamin says, it’s never the same as the original. In this way, I feel that ‘the original’ could just as easily be transposed to the first viewing.

I also feel that if you own a technological reproduction, such as a poster or a book, and it goes through some wear and tear alongside you, you feel a strong connection to the object and the object gains its own aura and authenticity through a shared history with you. Through these examples, it is to say that Benjamin’s theories of aura and work with all kinds of reproductions, they are just different kinds of auras, as everything has a different aura.

However, what I feel Benjamin is trying to say is that the mechanical reproduction will never be the same as the real physical thing, as it doesn’t have the same history, authenticity or authority, and therefore aura as the original. Quite like how in this day and age social media tries to copy human interaction but miserably fails, as text-text communication just isn’t the same as face-face, as it creates a level of separation between the original and the reproduction that just isn’t surpassable.

Benjamin’s theories on technological reproduction effect our current views on remixing, as they force us to question the originality of such works, and yet Benjamin himself also says that works that are reproduced manually (by hand/man-made) have a uniqueness that machine reproductions don’t. in this way, current remix culture carries with it its own uniqueness and aura, depending on the degree of separation from the original product, as Benjamin puts it.

Eduardo Navas also created his own theory, ‘Remix Theory’ which is based around the web 2.0 and introduction of the cut, copy and paste tools within pretty much every software application available. Navas theorises that the invention and inclusion of such tools in basic sound and video editing programs allowed for the remix to enter the mainstream pop culture. Navas also theorises that through the inclusion of such short cuts and the developments of such technologies “new forms of cultural production that question standard commercial practice” are created (Navas, 2010). Through Navas’ theories we can surmise that in today’s culture, with the ever growing popularity of remixes and mashups, that as Benjamin was concerned with upholding the authority and purity of the original, we are paving the way for a society that thrives on remixing the already existent into something new and unique with its own aura entirely.

Dan summed up his lecture by emphasising the fact that all of these amazing art works wouldn’t be possible without previously made work, and even though they do use someone else’s work, they are also building upon that work and creating something entirely new. Like found footage, it is being used for a different purpose out of context. However, as we all know, copyright infringement law does not see it the same way.

– Binns, Daniel. Lectorial Week 11. May 19th 2015.

– Benjamin, Walter. ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’. 1936. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm

– Navas, Eduardo. ‘Regressive and reflexive mashups in sampling culture, 2010 Revision.’ August 13, 2010. Remix Theory. Available at: http://remixtheory.net/?p=444

Institutions: Hollywood and Gender Bias

In this weeks lectorial we looked at institutions. Brian Morris told us that in order for anything to be an institution it has to be some kind of structure within society that contains social, cultural, political and economic relations as well as principles, values and rules which underlie these relations. An institution is also material but not tangible. All of these things, and more, Hollywood definitely is.

Recently Hollywood has had a ‘run in’ with the law, as its discrimination against women in the industry comes under scrutiny. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accused Hollywood of gender discrimination through its “‘systematic failure’ to hire female directors.” According to the ACLU, “Fewer women are working as directors today than two decades ago…women represented only 7 percent of directors on the 250 top-grossing movies last year… 2 percentage points lower than in 1998. A recent study commissioned by the Sundance Institute and Women in Film and conducted by researchers at USC shows women have comprised fewer than 5 percent of directors of top films during the past two decades. But about half of film-school students are female. In its letter to the federal equal employment commission… the ACLU writes: ‘Decades have passed and gender disparities remain as stark as they were in the 1970s.'” (Cohen, 2015). These statistics show how far the entertainment industry still has yet to go in terms of reaching equality.

Case in point, the recent ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ press tour showed just how ‘genderist’ Hollywood (and in particular gossip magazines) are, as one reporter decided to swap her prepared questions around and ask Mark Ruffalo the questions she was going to ask Scarlett Johansson:

This just shows how gossip magazines and TV shows perpetauate old fashioned, conservative values that preach self criticism, beauty and perfection for women, through only looking at the surface. With ideals such as these being preached throughout Hollywood it’s no wonder that women have actually come out against feminism, as they are criticised for everything to the point where feminism has been given a really bad name. It has become like a sharp stick. But, just because one end of the stick is sharp and pointy, doesn’t mean the rest of the stick is.

In the past couple of years there have been a lot of developments in the way of equality, such as the UN anouncing the ‘He for She’ campaign (heforshe.org, 2015), a campaign designed to foster solidarity for gender equality between both genders, not just women as it has been percieved as only a women’s battle for so many years (hence the word feminist, in a way). Many developments have also occurred in the feminism debate, with many men coming out in support of feminism like Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Gordon-Levitt, 2014) and Joss Whedon (Whedon, 2013), as well as many women coming out against feminism, as evidenced by the creation of the website ‘Women Against Feminism.’

The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film released its report on 2014, titled “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World.” The study looks at “on-screen representations of female characters in the top 100 grossing films every year. In addition to… chronic underrepresentation [and] the prevalence of gender stereotypes… the study also reported on the lack of ethnic diversity among the same media.” (Cipriani, 2015)

Dr. Martha Lauzen who wrote the report stated. “The chronic under-representation of girls and women reveals a kind of arrested development in the mainstream film industry… Women are not a niche audience and they are no more ‘risky’ as filmmakers than men.  It is unfortunate that these beliefs continue to limit the industry’s relevance in today’s marketplace.” (Cipriani, 2015)

In Joss Whedon’s speech about the word feminist and equality at the Make Equality Reality event on November 4th 2013, he puts many of these points into perspective and asks the question – why is feminist such a horrible word?:

(Whedon, 2013)

I personally agree with Whedon; like racism, the fight for equality should be a thing of the past and as the word racist plants a firm line between where we are now and a politically incorrect past, a new word should do the same for gender equality. This is where Whedon poses the idea of the word ‘genderist’ (which apparently already existed on the internet, in particular, urban dictionary), giving the idea that the struggle for equality is behind us. But as Whedon points out at the end of his speech, we will always be fighting. Hopefully, as time goes on and more and more battles are won, we will have to fight less and less.

– Cohen, Sandy. “ACLU Accuses Hollywood of Discriminating Against Female Directors.” May 12th 2015. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/12/aclu-hollywood-female-directors_n_7265408.html

– UN Women. “He for She Campaign for Equailty.” Information available at: http://www.heforshe.org/

– Gordon-Levitt, Joseph. Ellen Degeneres Interview, “Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Being a Feminist.” Jan. 9th 2014. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyVepk8ym4w

– Cipriani, Casey. “Sorry Ladies, study on Women in Film and Television Confirms the Worst.” Feb. 10th 2015. Available at: http://www.indiewire.com/article/sorry-ladies-study-on-women-in-film-and-television-confirms-the-worst-20150210

Social Institutions: Marriage

This week we looked at institutions, and while my group is doing institutions for our final project, I decided to do something a little different than ‘Rupert Murdoch’ and ‘Newscorp’, and instead decided to research marriage, because, as we found out in class, it is in fact a social institution, with many links to media and its own institutions.

As Brian told us in the lecture this week, institutions are “concern[ed] with organising [the] structures of society” , have “social, cultural and political relations” and have “principles, values [and] rules” which underpin them. Marriage has all of these factors.

In oder to become married you need to be “legally wed”, meaning you need to sign a legally binding contract, and to get out of the contract you need to also go through the legal system, hiring lawyers, spending money and splitting all of your assets. These legal structures that underpin the institution of marriage are mainly economic, as, as I said above about breaking that contract during a divorce, it involves splitting assets, meaning a marriage isn’t just the joining of two people, it’s economically joining as well. Hence an economic structure and a contributing factor to how and why marriage is an institution.




The notion of romantic love has somehow been hitched to the institution of marriage, through cultural narratives, a.k.a, the ‘romantic comedy’ or more derogatively known, the ‘chick flick’. These films such as, “Bride Wars” (Winick, 2009) and “What’s Your Number” (Mylod, 2011), perpetuate the social institution of marriage culturally, by emphasising the ideas of romantic love in marriage and that ‘you need a man to be happy’.

Such cultural narratives have a big stand within society, and are created by media institutions such as ‘Fox’ and ‘Disney’. Weddings themselves are often reported on within thw news as a major news piece, such as the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate, or Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, the spectacle of weddings themselves is very appealing to news media, and helps to perpetuate the social institution, as reports like these have become a staple of news reporting.

Marriage is such a large social institution and is only perpetuated by cultures and cultural products. This has created a booming industry which never seems to be out of business, with such extravagant weddings as this:

extravagent wedding 2  extravagent wedding 4 extravagent wedding cake

and celebrity weddings such as Kim Kardashian’s wedding both perpuating the institution further, and becoming an incredibly extravagant experience:


weddings today aren’t just an institution, they are a commodity.

Marriage is also a highly ritualistic and symbolic occasion, with such superstitions as ‘you can’t see the bride in her dress’ and ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.’ Also the entire set up of the wedding with the bride in white, being walked down the aisle by her father and the groom standing at the end of the aisle waiting for her. These ritualistic symbols and superstitions contribute to the culture of marriage and therefore contribute to its nature as a social institution.

These ‘traditions’ are also very outdated and although they may seem harmless now, their origins weren’t really:

The question remains, why do these now foundless traditions continue? And more importantly, do weddings need to exist in today’s current social landscape?

Institutions Group Project Update: Week 3

On Monday we brainstormed more ideas and concepts that we could use for our website, bringing together different threads to create entirely new content.

Alana will be writing an opinion piece on modern media and a timeline to show the evolution of both traditoinal and modern media side by side.

Jess will do a comparison of both traditional media institutions and modern media intitution, looking at how they filter and utilise information from the same topic, e.g. the earthquake in Nepal. Some chose to cover the devastation in Nepal which caused thousands of deaths, while others chose to focus on the trpped climbers, both sending drastically different messages. As well as the idea of the ‘trending news feed’ and the ‘hash tag’ and their recent evolutions.

I will create small biographies on a variety of institutions of varying political bend and form of address, from the Age, to the Humans of New York blog, to Channel 9 news. I will also find archival footage of Rupert Murdoch in order to create a filtered view of him, showing how the media filter everything they produce in order to produce a desired response. Through the edited piece we hope to achieve a different persona and view of Murdoch, creating a different image.

We also came up with a list of questions to ask Philip Dearman, ranging from ethics and ownership issues in traditional media to the evolving landscape of news media itself. It’s shaping up to be a very interesting project.


Today Brian Morris talked to us about institutions.

The term institution is originally from sociology and is concerned with organising structures that make up society. An institution has to have social, cultural, political and economic relations, and principles, values and rules that inform and underpin these relations. An institution is material, but it is not tangible (Morris, 2015), think of Google and how it is both a material company but has now somehow become a verb, as we all frequently say, “just Google it”. This shows how Google has become a cultural and social entity as well as a company, therefore it is an institution.

Another institution is marriage. Brian asked us about how we thought Marriage counted as a social institution, and we all came up with a long list (which I thought warranted a blog post to explore more, which I will upload a little later).

Media institutions are enduring which produces limitations as they have a status quo to uphold, a reputation which doesn’t allow any breathing room for new creations and developments to occur. They also, regulate and structure activities, are ‘collectivist’, develop working practices, employees and people associated are expected to share values as the public is aware of their status, audiences are also created by institutions and their content. Institutions and their public status develops trust between the audience and the institution as the audience understands the general message of the institution. This trust is however being infringed upon quite frequently as of late, with recent developments over the years such as the News of the World phone hacking scandal and the cash for comments scandal on the radio in 1999. (Morris, 2015)

We then split up into groups for an exercise and researched a media institution out of the four: Facebook, Google, NewsCorp and Community Media. My group looked at Google, and we found that Google’s reach over multiple platforms and technologies shows the power such institutions have over pop culture and societal development. Through this activity we also noticed that many of these institutions, through their quest for money and profit, have gained a monopoly over the market, especially NewsCorp in both Australia and England.

Institutions, especially those which are omnipresent within the media, have a great deal of power and influence through their control of services and products within the market place. Through controlling basic mediums and media-related commodities, media institutions are able to shape social discourse.

– Morris, Brian. Week 10 Lectorial. May 12th 2015.