The role of media, particularly mass media in society fascinates me. Media may in some ways construct the culture of a society, conversely the culture of a society may be simply reflected by media. Media is a social structure of society that we call an institution. Institutions are macro-sociological complexes that are somewhat abstract in definition. There are many social institutions that appear universally across all societies and cultures. These institutions teach us our norms, beliefs, values, and affect our behavior as both individuals and as a collective group. A society’s culture is no more than the sum total of its understanding of identity as a collective distinguishable from other collectives. Within each institution are many organizations. The film industry is a segment of the mass media institution that provides communication to wide audiences. Even so the industry could not carry out its role without many organizations and affiliations such as we know by the name of companies. Companies like Warner, CNN and ESPN to name only three organizations make up the bureaucracy of mass media. If you believe that media and film primarily reflect the beliefs and values of a society you are more likely a micro-sociologist. Whether we see our world primarily shaped by mass macro structures or as mere reflections of the current stage of society is immaterial. The process of change that comes with each societal age is more likely in my opinion a reflexive process by which both macro structures and micro level organized interaction of the citizenry create a dialogue that promotes a constant revaluation of society. In this process society attempts to provide a balanced and measured amount of change that allows society to evolve in an organized and more or less predictable fashion. I believe once you think about film in this way you will develop a new way of viewing life and in so doing become more critical in making conclusions about issues of society and human relationships. Whether it be politics, economy, health care, family, or even war, once this appreciation evolves I believe you will come to respect and analyze all walks of life differently than before. Enjoy.
Malcolm L. Rigsby
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