Sociological Perspectives on Mass Media


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This resource synthesizes sociological insights and media literacy information (Ferris and Stein 2018; MediaSmarts N.d.) to create a “unit” on mass media comprised of three activities. The activities encourage students to build a sociological understanding of mass media by helping them to think critically about media from multiple perspectives: media as socially constructed, as influenced by profit and concentration, and as having the potential for varying interpretations yet socializing influences. Students first complete a free-write, which asks them to take on the role of a film writer and director and to identify a story they would like to tell. Students then use this free-write as a basis for discussing how all media products are social constructs created by individuals with their own personal viewpoints. Next, students complete a data analysis activity in which they summarize a graph and a table concerning concentration of the media and discuss what these data say about control over media content and the existence of a “free press”. Finally, students watch a brief film clip and identify 1) how interpretations of this film clip might vary, and 2) the potential socializing influences of this film clip. Students link the lessons of these three activities together through a brief large-group discussion and an individual reflection on the “main point” of the class period. The overarching learning goals advanced by this set of activities reflect some of the “most important” things that instructors believe students should learn in introductory sociology courses – to think sociologically, recognize the...


Resource Type(s):
Class Activity 
Annika Wilcox 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Introduction to Sociology/Social Problems 
Class Level:
College 200 
Class Size:

Usage Notes:

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See attached usage notes document.

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
Students will identify media products as social constructions.
Assessment 1:
Show of hands concerning recognition of media as a social construct; small- and large-group discussion about the implications of media being socially constructed.
Goal 2:
Students will summarize visual data on media concentration and apply these data to critique freedom of the press.
Assessment 2:
Completion of the media consolidation handout and participation in small- and large-group discussion about this handout.
Goal 3:
Students will demonstrate how media products can have varying interpretations and socializing influences.
Assessment 3:
Small- and large-group discussion about the varying interpretations and socializing influences of a film clip.

Files for Download:

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Wilcox TRAILS Media Activity Powerpoint.pptx
Wilcox TRAILS Media Consolidation Activity.docx
Wilcox TRAILS Media Activity Usage Notes_Final.docx