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Culture and Media

Culture and Media

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Culture refers to the social behaviors, institutions, and norms that run the human society and the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, and customs of the people in the said community. The representation of culture in the media brings out a unique perspective of the group of people and their norms and beliefs.  Global development and technological advancement have influenced the spread of culture through mass media. People can learn about the culture of a specific community through social media. For instance, the culture of the west is learned through the media by simply posing a question, and people from the culture will have thousands of explanations and meanings of their traditions. Similarly, the culture of the Blacks during the colonial period has been disseminated through the media, and people worldwide can relate. The media, especially the social media of the current century, greatly influence the dissemination of culture to create awareness and understanding of people’s traditions. 

The course reading relates humans and nature when talking about culture. The reading defines culture as the sum of social activities and concepts people embrace alongside their beliefs, behaviors, and practices. Technically, culture, in this perspective, is equated to everything except the natural environment. Alternatively, the reading defines culture as the difference between what is natural and what is modified or created by humans. It is featured as a relative concept that has to incorporate the global world in its discussions. According to the reading, culture can be viewed from material, and nonmaterial perspectives, including beliefs, values, behaviors, and social norms.

In contrast, the material view of culture involves everything that is part of the constructed physical environment. The nonmaterial and material culture prides a bidirectional relationship as they affect each other. The course material notes that a subculture is the values and behaviors of a specific group in society. The notes identify that sometimes, members of subcultures are marginalized from society. Still, frequently, these individuals interact with other members without notice—they simply have characteristics that make them different from members of the larger, dominant culture.

Sheldon, Herzfeldt and Rauschnabel (2020) explores the topic of culture and social media to determine the relationship between cultural values and hashtagging styles. The authors acknowledge that social media has infiltrated every aspect of life as people post, take pictures and videos, and message friends more often. The article further identifies that a person's behaviors are influenced by their culture, such as country, ethnic background, and institutional or corporate values. The study informs that literature on culture argues that culture equals country. However, recent studies confront this theory and claim that a nation cannot be treated as a monolithic cultural entity. This refutation is because the within-country cultural variance exceeds the difference between states. Recent studies further argue that culture does not exist within national boundaries. Rather, it is influenced by different social affiliations of cultural aspects complemented by the national culture. Sheldon, Herzfeldt and Rauschnabel (2020) notes that social media is a major platform for exploring different cultures worldwide. The element of hashtags in social media has widely been used to express cultural values as an art of documentation. 

The two readings work together to boost the understanding of minority groups. The course reading explores how the media stands as a key influence in stereotyping. The reading notes how the media creates, reinforces, and perpetrates racist ideologies and stereotypes based on ethnicity, gender, religion, and other societal factors. However, it also notes that the acts of racism can be intentional or unintentional and manifest subtly or overtly. An example given in the reading is how time magazine was accused of darkening the features of the controversial O.J. Simpson for its cover (Molloy, 2016). The ways the media present an image of a certain race or gender matter in the eyes of the audience. The public access to the media receives the information presented in its originality and understands the message differently. For example, when the media uses an image of a black man to express how criminal cases have become rampant, the world will view the black community as criminals, as this is what the media portrays. 

Sheldon, Herzfeldt and Rauschnabel (2020) reflects how social media helps understand the context of a community. The use of hashtags by a community to express their traditions or concerns of a group of people over social media has become a major way to appreciate cultures. People use social media today with the hashtag element to create awareness of their cultures and to mark specific events and activities that make their cultural backgrounds stand out. Social media emerges as a better platform to express cultural differences in the global network. The authors further note how social media is used to foster the conceptualization of culture. People can understand and appreciate the cultures of their neighboring communities or countries via this media platform.

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Pavica Sheldon, Erna Herzfeldt and Philipp A. Rauschnabel. (2020). Culture and social media: the relationship between cultural values and hashtagging styles. Behaviour & Information Technology 2020, Vol 39(7), 758–770 https://doi.org/10.1080/0144929X.2019.1611923

Tim Molloy. (2016). OJ Fact Check: Read Time Magazine’s Apology for Making Simpson Blacker. The Wrap. Available at: https://www.thewrap.com/oj-fact-check-read-time-magazines-apology-for-making-simpson-blacker/ Accessed 11/4/2022

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