Thursday, June 19, 2003

Effect studies II
After the post on academia and effect studies, a colleague brought an article by Stephen Kline to my attention: "Is it Time to Rethink Media Effects?" Kline writes in the abstract of the article:

It has become increasingly common in some academic circles to write off public controversies about children's media as moral panics. (snip) This paper suggests that the fifty year long debate about youth violence would be better understood as a political struggle over the "lifestyle risks" rather than "entertainment values" which now pits media corporations against anxiously concerned parents.

I haven't found the paper online, so I am not going to criticize a paper I can not let you all read - I just want to mention that although I disagree with a lot of Kline's points in the paper, I agree with his initial project: to bring the debate of media effects out of the politically charged pit it is in, and into an arena where it's possible to view electronic media as a powerful channel for cultural influence, but not immediately as the source of all evil in western society - alternately the last arena of free speech and creative expression. It might be about time we get past our spine reaction of disgust faced with media panics, and see what media critizism really says about values, trends and use of popular media.

Because this research has not been neglected. It has happened, but under other names. There is a consistent and frequently quite aggressive criticism of popular media: content, form and use. But due to the politics of academia such studies do not appear under the "effect" label, and as such the effect discussion and the content discussion both appear oddly amputated, both lacking some limbs and thus unable to get anywhere.

No comments: