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Online classes

Effective: Early Spring 8-Week 2017/2018

SOCI 380: Mass Media And Society

Course Description

Emphasis on critical examination of contemporary mass media, including television, film, advertising and news. Sociological theories of mass media. History of mass media. Social impacts of mass media. Political influences on mass media. Information flows in democratic societies. Sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, and ethnocentrism in mass media. Advertising and consumerism. Popular culture. The internet.

Prerequisite: Junior standing

Proctored Exams: Final



Syllabus Contents

Textbooks

The two textbooks are available as a bundle with the ISBN 13: 978-1-4833-6529-9

Required

  • Wilson, Clint C. II, Felix Gutierrez, and Lena Chao. Racism, Sexism, and the Media. 4th ed. Sage Publications, Inc., 2013.
  • Croteau, David, and William Hoynes. Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences. 5th ed. Pine Forge Press, 2014.

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.


Course Overview

This course looks at the various forms of mass media and their impact on society. We will examine the economics of the mass media industry, political influences on the mass media, the ideologies promoted by the mass media, the ethnic, gender, and class stereotypes presented by the mass media, how people interpret the mass media, and how technology influences the mass media.



Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.


Course Objectives

  • To investigate the role that mass media and popular culture play in shaping the public's awareness of social and political issues.
  • To investigate the history and current development of corporate ownership of mass media outlets.
  • To evaluate critically the role of propaganda in democratic societies.
  • To assess the impact of new media, including the internet, on consumption of mass media.
  • To assess critically the extent of sexism, racism, heterosexism, and stereotyping in the mass media.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

  • To investigate the role that mass media and popular culture play in shaping the public's awareness of social and political issues.
  • To investigate the history and current development of corporate ownership of mass media outlets.
  • To evaluate critically the role of propaganda in democratic societies.
  • To assess the impact of new media, including the internet, on consumption of mass media.
  • To assess critically the extent of sexism, racism, heterosexism, and stereotyping in the mass media.

Grading

Grading Scale
Grade Points Percent
A 540-600 90-100%
B 480-539 80-89%
C 420-479 70-79%
D 360-419 60-69%
F 0-359 0-59%
Grade Weights
Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions 200 33%
Papers 200 33%
Final Exam 200 33%
Total 600 100%


Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 1 10 Wednesday
Discussion 2 10 Friday
Discussion 3 10 Sunday
Week 2
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 10 Wednesday
Discussion 5 10 Friday
Discussion 6 10 Sunday
Proctor Information N/A
Week 3
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 10 Friday
Discussion 8 10 Sunday
Week 4
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 10 Wednesday
Discussion 10 10 Friday
Dropbox Assignment: Paper 1 100 Sunday
Week 5
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 10 Wednesday
Discussion 12 10 Friday
Discussion 13 10 Sunday
Week 6
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 14 10 Wednesday
Discussion 10 10 Friday
Dropbox Assignment: Paper 2 100 Sunday
Week 7
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 16 10 Wednesday
Discussion 17 10 Friday
Discussion 18 10 Sunday
Week 8
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 19 10 Wednesday
Discussion 20 10 Friday
Final Exam 200 Saturday
Total Points 600

Assignment Overview

Discussions

Discussions will cover major topics, concepts and issues from the two textbooks and any online sources that are assigned. It is essential that you read each chapter completely rather than just look up the information. Be sure to address the question asked, and be sure to provide your own insights rather than repeating what is in the textbooks. In addition to your own posting, you need to make a substantive response to two other students’ postings (in each topic, not per week). The responses to others’ postings are due the same date as the original posting, so be sure not to wait until the last minute before you submit your discussion posting. Discussions count for 1/3 of your final grade. Grading criteria can be found below.

Score

Criteria

Points

Content

Original response answers all questions. Answers are complete and concise.

3

Support

Response demonstrates familiarity with the assigned readings. Uses original language rather than simply quoting or rephrasing textbook.

3

Response

Responds to at least 2 classmates with substantive comments or thoughtful questions that extend the discussion.

4

Total

 

10



Dropbox Assignments/Papers

There are two papers assigned for this course. Each will be graded according to the grading rubric posted in the Content Area of the course. The papers will be graded on content as well as formatting, so be sure to rely on valid academic sources, provide appropriate citations for all sources, and avoid plagiarism (i.e. all direct quotes must be in quotation marks). You should make sure that your paper provides in-depth, original analysis rather than a superficial description of your topic, and also that it meets the length requirement. The two papers count for 1/3 of your final grade.


Final Exam

There is one exam that will consist of long-answer questions over the major topics covered throughout the course. Thus, it is important that you read all the chapters completely, because there might be questions on the final exam over material that is not covered in the discussions. The Final Exam must be taken with a proctor. The Final Exam counts for 1/3 of your final grade.



Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Week 1: Mass Media and Society
Readings

Read Chapter 1 in Croteau/Hoynes and Chapters 1 and 2 in Wilson/Gutierrez/Chao.

Discussion 1

Introduce yourself in the "Introductions" topic of our class Discussion, our "virtual classroom." Please give us more than your name. Include your occupation, hobbies, interests, and any other information that can help us get to know you. Please post your response in the appropriate discussion by 11:59 PM Wednesday.

Discussion 2

Considering Croteau and Hoynes’ discussion of media and society in chapter 1, to what extent do you think mass media influence people’s values and behaviors? Be sure to provide a detailed explanation of your answer. Please post your response in the appropriate discussion by 11:59 PM Friday.

Discussion 3

Considering the description of the five central functions for the media in the United States (p. 34 in Wilson/Gutierrez/Chao), what do you think is the main function of mass media? Are there important social functions that the mass media should have, but which are not included on this list? If so, what are they? Please post your response in the appropriate discussion by 11:59 PM Sunday.

Week 2: The Production of Mass Media
Readings

Read Chapters 2 and 3 in Croteau/Hoynes and Chapter 3 in Wilson/Gutierrez/Chao.

Discussion 4

Consider the statement: “media are in the business of ‘delivering audiences to advertisers’” (Croteau/Hoynes, p. 62). What are some benefits as well as drawbacks from this practice? Please post by 11:59 PM Wednesday.

Discussion 5

Consider Croteau and Hoynes’ discussion of media regulation in Ch. 3, to what extent should the government regulate the content of mass media with regard to nudity, sex, violence, drug use, “national interest” or other sensitive content? What are some of the inherent problems with regulating such content? Post this answer by Friday at 11:59 PM.

Discussion 6

Consider Wilson, Gutierrez, and Chao’s discussion of how ethnic stereotypes have changed over time (Ch. 3 in Wilson/Gutierrez/Chao). What ethnic stereotypes are still prevalent in contemporary American mass media? How are these stereotypes perpetuated, and why have they not yet disappeared? Post this answer by Sunday at 11:59 PM.

Week 3: Media Professionals
Readings

Read Chapter 4 in Croteau/Hoynes and Chapter 6 in Wilson/Gutierrez/Chao.

Discussion 7

Consider the statement: “News… is the product of a social process through which media personnel make decisions about what is newsworthy and what is not, about who is important  and who is not, about what views are to be included and what views can be dismissed” (p. 132 in Croteau/Hoynes).  What types of stories are not considered “newsworthy,” who is considered less important, and whose views are most easily dismissed? What are the reasons for these patterns? Post this answer by Friday at 11:59 PM.

Discussion 8

Based on what Wilson, Gutierrez, and Chao write in Ch. 6, why is it problematic to focus on “minority issues” on “special occasions” such as Cinco de Mayo or Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday? What might be a better approach, and how could such an approach be achieved? Post this answer by Sunday at 11:59 PM.

Week 4: Ideology
Readings

Read Chapter 5 in Croteau/Hoynes and Chapters 7 and 8 in Wilson/Gutierrez/Chao.

Discussion 9

Consider Croteau and Hoynes discussion of hegemony (pp. 158-162). What are some ideas that are promoted as “natural” by contemporary mass media, but which are actually social constructs? What are the manners in which we learn to think of these social constructs as “natural”? Post this answer by Wednesday at 11:59 PM.

Discussion 10

Considering Wilson, Gutierrez, and Chao’s discussion of ethnic stereotypes in advertising, why is it that Native Americans are offended by being depicted as logos for commercial products and as mascots of sports teams? Post this answer by Friday at 11:59 PM.

Dropbox Assignment: Paper 1

For the Paper 1 assignment, discuss how the mass media provide us with “ideological visions of the nation and the world” (Croteau and Hoynes, p. 163). First of all, go to the Project Censored website (www.projectcensored.org), and select one of their “Top Censored Stories of 2013-14” (accessible near the bottom, right side of the webpage). Relying on the concepts and terms provided in the first five chapters of Croteau and Hoynes, provide a sociological analysis of why your chosen story was underreported by the major news media. To what extent did the story conflict with established interests (Croteau and Hoynes pp. 163-64)? What are the relationships between objectivity (Ch. 4), hegemony, and established interests?  Your paper should be no less than 2,000 words in length. Your paper will be scored according to the grading rubric provided in the Content Area for Week 4. Submit it to the Paper 1 Dropbox by Sunday at 11:59 PM.

Week 5: Unequal Representation
Readings

Read Chapter 6 in Croteau/Hoynes and Chapter 4 in Wilson/Gutierrez/Chao.

Discussion 11

Consider the experiences shared by the women featured in Miss Representation. In what manners are women treated differently from men by the mass media? What are some consequences of this in terms of female representation in the political and corporate world? Post this answer by Wednesday at 11:59 PM.

Discussion 12

Consider Croteau and Hoynes’ discussion of social class in mass media, what are some differences between the lifestyle of families that are typically represented in TV shows and the economic situation faced by most American families? What are the reasons for these differences? Post this answer by Friday at 11:59 PM.

Discussion 13

Consider Chapter 4 in Wilson, Gutierrez, and Chao, what are some challenges that minority women face in terms of the types of roles they are offered in Hollywood and on TV shows? To what extent do ethnic stereotypes limit minority women actors’ career opportunities? Post this answer by Sunday at 11:59 PM.

Week 6: Mass Media and Politics
Readings

Read Chapter 7 in Croteau/Hoynes and Chapter 9 in Wilson/Gutierrez/Chao.

Discussion 14

Consider Croteau and Hoynes’ discussion of the agenda setting model of the news media. To what extent do you think that the news media tell us what issues to focus our attentions on? To what extent is there a difference between what we are interested in (i.e. what we want to see), what the news media think we should focus on, and what we actually should be interested in (i.e. what we should see)? How do we explain these differences? Post this answer by Wednesday at 11:59 PM.

Discussion 10

Consider Chapter 9 in Wilson, Gutierrez, and Chao, what are some obstacles that advocacy groups face when they seek to change the manner in which the mass media address issues of concern to ethnic minorities? Post this answer by Friday at 11:59 PM.

Dropbox Assignment: Paper 2

Consider the film War Made Easy as well as Croteau and Hoynes’ discussion of the manner in which political messages are carefully constructed and presented to the public through the mass media. Write a paper that provides a sociologically informed analysis of the role of mass media in a democratic society. How is the role of the news media different in a dictatorship than in a democratic society? What should be the role of the news media vis-à-vis political leaders in a democratic society? To what extent do the news media fulfill this role? Provide examples of instances where the news media have done a good job in this area, and also where they have not done a very good job. Your paper should be no less than 2,000 words in length. Your paper will be scored according to the grading rubric provided in the Content Area for Week 6. Submit it to the Paper 2 Dropbox by Sunday at 11:59 PM.

Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Week 7: The Construction of Meaning
Readings

Read Chapter 8 in Croteau/Hoynes and Chapter 10 in Wilson/Gutierrez/Chao.

Discussion 16

Consider chapter 8 in Croteau and Hoynes. What is meant by the term active audiences? How is this concept related to the term polysemy? What are some factors that influence polysemy? Post this answer by Wednesday at 11:59 PM.

Discussion 17

Consider Chapter 8 in Croteau and Hoynes. Why is it that audiences in different parts of the world have such different interpretations of the same TV show? What might be your impression of American society if all you knew about it came from TV shows?  Post this answer by Friday at 11:59 PM.

Discussion 18

Consider the data presented in chapter 10 of Wilson, Gutierrez, and Chao. What are the major reasons for why ethnic minorities are still underrepresented in the news media? How might minority representation be increased? Post this answer by Sunday at 11:59 PM.

Week 8: Technology and Globalization
Readings

Read Chapters 9 and 10 in Croteau/Hoynes and Chapter 11 in Wilson/Gutierrez/Chao.

Discussion 19

Consider Croteau and Hoynes’ discussion of Marshall McLuhan’s assertion that “the medium is the message.” How is the experience of reading a book different from watching TV? How does listening to the radio differ from watching a TV show? What are some implications of how different technologies shape our consciousness? Post this answer by Wednesday at 11:59 PM.

Discussion 20

Consider Croteau and Hoynes’ discussion of the global reach of large media corporations. What are some issues of concern when a small number of corporations control a substantial portion of the world’s mass media? How is this issue related to the concept of cultural imperialism? What are some consequences of cultural imperialism? Post this answer by Friday at 11:59 PM.

Final Exam

You must take a proctored final exam between Tuesday and Saturday of Week 8. It is a computerized exam and you will have two hours to complete it. No books or notes are allowed during the exam. The exam will consist of 10 long-answer questions, each of which will be graded on a 20-point scale for a maximum total of 200 points. The Final Exam counts for 1/3 of your grade. Be sure to provide detailed answers that directly address the questions.



Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism

Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.

Non-Discrimination

There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

No other late assignments will be accepted without extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the student and with instructor notification prior to the due date.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.


Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.


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