How important are the media to the formation of youth as a social category

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Last updated: March 28, 2019

Media plays a very important role in our everyday lives and has a very strong influence on both individuals and society. Media also has a strong influence on the formation of youth as a social category. Examples of media are newspapers, television, radio, internet and magazines. This essay will discuss the importance of media in the formation of youth as a social category mainly focusing on the sub cultural perspective.

It will briefly define the youth, social category and sub cultural perspective. It will also discuss the importance of media in the formation of youth as a social category in relation to the sub cultural perspective.The positive and negative aspects of media will be discussed in relation to cultural decline. Each of these aspects will be discussed separately. Lastly, it will evaluate and give recommendation. Youth are the young people, who have neither grown out of childhood experiences nor have approached maturity. Hebdige (1988) also describes the youth as fun seekers and dangerous in terms of ‘moral panic’ in which media’s portrayal of the activities of youth present them as either a threat to social stability and order or at risk.

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In other, words it means that youth are seen as people who are always having fun, partying and clubbing most of the time. They spend money on unnecessary things even that they do not need such as jewellery, clothes and drugs. The importance of media in the formation of youth as a social category in relation to the subcultural perspective The media “sells the way of thinking, seeing and talking about the world” (Schirato ; Yell 1996: 174).People live in a media society according to Baudrillard (1983: 07).

The society that we live in is constituted by the media. In addition to it Baudrillard 1983: 07), states that the reality is no longer the event, the person, the experimenter, the object, but the presentation of the event, person, experience and the object. In other words, Baudrillard meant that what happens is no longer relevant but how a person is presented is of importance nowadays. The media is extremely important to the youth. Despite frequent acknowledgement of the importance of the media in influencing the youths, very little research had been done that examines the extent and nature of its influence. The media and subcultures are said to have a complex and symbiotic relationship.Youth cultures are intimately involved in the mass media. In other words, the media and youth are inseparable, hence the media influences the behaviour and views of the youth.

For example, music television (MTV) brings to a youthful audience not only the radio’s top 40 play list but also the style and image which accompany the music. For instance they way some of the students at this campus dress, they dress like 50 Cent, Eminem (tattoos) and Britney Spears. The assemblage of the subculture is made instantly accessible, subject to the availability of the merchandise.Sercombe (1999: 09), states that young people find not only a style of music they like that satisfies them, speaks to their way of feeling about the world but an image, an ensemble – clothes, shoes, hair, stance and language that expresses their relationship to the wider world The appearance often presented by the media is not simply a mode of dress, but a symbol of national decline, hence the question of cultural imperialism comes in. Boarders across the world have been kept open for changes in culture and dressing (cultural imperialism) to come in.Nielsen (1993) states that the cultural changes in the landscape are easy to recognise if one knows where to look, what to look for and it is perhaps more difficult today with the change in the subculture. Youths of today are portrayed as immoral people because of cultural imperialism and a good example to this is of Zimbabweans. They do not dress according to their cultures but have copied the American styles, for example, plaiting of hair, piercing of eyes in boys, an act which is not acceptable in our Zimbabwean culture.

The youths have lost useful traditions, norms, role models and are largely left to themselves in trying to develop adequate forms of social identity. The media illuminates and cultivates the ‘youth’ as a new consumer group with its own needs and preferences. In addition to it, distorted media coverage plays an active role in shaping events and identities. It causes a ‘moral panic’ by portraying the youth in a certain way for example, youth as sexually promiscuous, drug addicts, thieves and very violent, which is not true, because not all youths are like that.For example, Monash University has diverse youths from different countries and there are some who engage in immoral activities and some are drug addicts but there are also some youths who do not do either of the above.

Such portrayal of youths by the media as immoral hence shapes the ‘false’ identities of the youth. Moral panics and subcultures have more to do with helping to create them. The positive and negative aspects of media in relation to cultural decline The media plays a crucial role in the social formation of the youth because knowledge of many youths is obtained sorely through the media than direct experience.Entertainment industries need to be credited for other aspects like providing the youths with useful information like the current news, ‘fashion’ as well as entertaining and educational programmes in the society.

However the entertainment industry is blamed for all the social ill and cultural denegracy. The social ill that the media has been blamed for deals with cultural imperialism. This leaves the society with the question ‘do media corrupt the mind? ‘ As Thompson (1995) puts it, the media plays a role in moulding what one believes in.Some of the programmes that were developed in developed countries such as the United States have a negative impact on youths. For example, youths who regularly watch violent movies are more violent and arrogant than those who do not watch such movies. Media also plays a role in changing perceptions, for example, like most people, drug users read newspapers and consequently can and do learn about new drug dealings. The media is also blamed for ‘sexual advice’ in teen magazines which encourages promiscuity and encourages sexist attitudes.

Though some scholars argue that the media is not responsible for implanting these undesirable attitudes and consumerism in society. Nielsen (1993) states that it does not produce social values and behaviours, all it does is take the world as it finds it, hence the media is suspected to promote the behaviour which it claims to protect. Conclusion In a nutshell, the media has evolved to become the dominant player in the reality formation process of youths. One could argue that just as the media can influence the behaviour and views of the youths by making them buy and put into practice what they advertise.The youths themselves can also influence the media by promoting what they advertise and sell to the youths.

Anti-social behaviour, juvenile nuisance, cultural imperialism and national cultural decline are products of media. Youths use the images and language that they pick from the media. The media are extremely important in the lives of youths, youths of today can not live without the media and the media interferes in the youth’s life for a purpose which is to inform them, sell to them ideas about what is going on in and around the world.

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