This chapter engages with two of the key concepts through which the often unseen and taken for granted connections of media forms to power have been explored. Marxist approaches to ‘ideology’ are applied to forms such as advertising and to labour within the construction of celebrity. They are also developed through discussion of the work of Gramsci, Althusser and Klein as they relate to media. The persistence and shifting visibility of class is discussed, with examples, as is gender within what has been called ‘identity politics’. Work on ‘discourse’ enables you to grasp one of the most powerful, but also confusing terms in current media approaches. This runs alongside discussion of lived cultures (via national identity, and also sport).

The Case Study: ‘The Age of Stupid and climate change politics’ makes detailed application of some of the main arguments in the chapter to a recent low budget but arresting film on this topic. Detailed textual analysis goes with analysis of the film’s location within powerful discourses of advertising and cinema. These images and practices arguably work to naturalise reckless activities and cultures of high consumption – for some.

A Case Study on The Discourses of a Pandemic is available on this website.

A Case Study of Pulp Fiction from MSB3 is available on this website as an example of a possible ‘postmodern text’.

Chapter Links

In this article Andrew Ross discusses unpaid internships as one of the ways in which capitalism
operates now. He also makes key points about the freelance or ‘prosumer’ cultural work which is at the
heart of many ‘new media’, especially in journalism. See the highly profitable ($315m to the owner) sale
of the Huffington Post blog in 2011 which benefited none of the unpaid bloggers, and has sparked a class-action lawsuit.

Case Study