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Digital Media Influence

Digital Media Influence
A Cultivation Approach

First Edition

March 2020 | 152 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Populism, misogyny, rampage murders. Digital media seem to lie at the heart of sinister, intractable social challenges. Curiously, the very societies who fear such things are often dismissive of media research. Addressing key issues affecting global media industries, this book explains how to solve the present conundrum by appreciating the historical development of cultivation theory.

Digital Media Influence ties cultivation themes, such as mean world syndrome, mainstreaming, the celebration of white male violence, the ridiculing of ageing women, the inhibition of activism, the mediatisation of religion and the erosion of trust in education, with contemporary digital media case studies. Considering the aftermath of the Parkland murders, political memes, Islamophobia, the fate of female reality TV stars and the bad press directed at media education, Ruddock shows how these phenomena are born of media practices that cultivation theory began to dissect in the 1950s.

Paying close attention to the life and work of George Gerbner, Digital Media Influence locates today’s questions in the historical forces and relationships that moved media industries closer to the heart of global politics in the mid-20th century. It makes Gerbner’s work relevant to all critical media researchers by providing a theoretical, methodological  and historical steer for understanding new media influences. In explaining how one of the world’s leading media theories developed in relation to intriguing historical circumstances – many of them deeply personal – this book helps researchers of all levels to find their voice in writing on media issues.

Chapter 1. Cultivation Analysis and the World of George Gerbner
Chapter 2. School Shootings: The Mean World Syndrome
Chapter 3. Stories of White Male Power? Understanding Trumpism
Chapter 4. 'Mainstreaming': How Media Normalise Islamophobia
Chapter 5. Casting and Fate: It's Different for Girls; Policing Women Onscreen
Chapter 6: Things Can Only Get Better: The Difficulties of Building a Cultural Environment Movement
Conclusion: the Crisis in Media Education: A Cultivation Perspective

Accounts of media research rarely pay attention to the social contexts that give rise to the questions scholars address, and even more rarely do they acknowledge the personal dimensions that draw us to particular questions at particular moments. In contrast, Ruddock's uses the life and work of George Gerbner to illuminate a critical period in 20th Century media research and, while accomplishing this important task, he succeeds as well in placing current media research in the context of contemporary concerns and challenges. This will be a valuable resource for introducing the history of media research and relating long-standing theories to new questions.

Professor Larry Gross
Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California

Andy Ruddock’s book is a terrific way to get into the fields of cultivation research and cultural indicators. It provides useful cases that help illustrate both the means and methods of the research approaches, and applies them in specific contexts. It is not the usual social science, exemplifying the blend of empirical research and critical approaches that so characterizes the work under study. Add to that previously unearthed historical and archive findings, and we have a book that will essential for media scholars and students alike.

James Shanahan
Dean of the Media School, Indiana University

Linking the past, present and future of media and media studies in a dynamic synthesis of theory and case studies, Andy Ruddock makes a compelling case for George Gerbner’s cultivation analysis in an age of digital media. Using examples such as school shootings, the Trump presidency, Islamophobia, and young women in reality TV, this short book provides a timely argument for the continuing relevance of studying media influence, for both media scholars and other social researchers.

Terry Flew
Professor of Communication and Creative Industries, Queensland University of Technology

In this lively and engaging work, Andy Ruddock revisits cultivation theory, one of the most influential 20th Century approaches to the study of media effects, and gives it new life in today's hyper-mediatised digital environment. With remarkable insight, his innovative turn on cultivation makes us think about social media, gaming, cable news, Islamophobia, feminist media scholarship, memes, and much more, in new and critical ways - such as when he shows how Trump has melded television's classic messages about power, gender and victimisation into a new form of digital political communication. In each area of analysis, Ruddock deftly points us toward new methods for new times, when reality are fiction are more blurred than ever. A must-read for scholars of traditional and digital media alike.

Professor Emeritus Michael Morgan
University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Sample Materials & Chapters

Contents & chapter 1

Andy Ruddock

Andy Ruddock lectures in Communications and Media Studies at Monash University. He has authored four books on researching media influence. Andy is known for his work on Cultivation Theory. He has published over 50 book chapters and journal articles, applying this theory to media violence, gaming, reality TV, political celebrity pornography, drug and alcohol abuse, sport and media education. Andy is currently writing Cultivation Theory and Digital Media Challenges. This new book details the history of cultivation theory and explains its relevance to contemporary “isms”; activism, sexism, Trumpism, and extremism. More About Author

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ISBN: 9781526499226

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