Sociology 2513
(Peter Weeks,Fall, 2004)



We are essentially concerned with the effects of communications media on society, especially Canada, in terms of our view of the world, what we take to be factual and true, our culture & our everyday lives, whether at leisure or at work. Since we are so immersed in these media everyday, it is difficult to stand back and understand their distinctive effects. A major aim of this course will be to develop some tools with which to gain a critical understanding of the ways in which biases are introduced in the very details of news stories, camera angles, stereotyping in television entertainment, advertisements, and the uses of music in connection with these.

Our major interest will be in the recent electronic broadcasting media (radio, television, satellite, cable) and also the increasingly converging information and telecommunication technologies. Many have claimed that we are in "the information society" that promises a wondrous array of global information sources, news and entertainment alternatives, and a host of services to people in general. But, to evaluate these arguments and to understand these media, we need to examine not only their basic technical characteristics, but also how they are socially organized, along with the 'grammar' of each medium in terms of how messages and a sense of 'actuality' can be constructed in each of them. Aspects of globalization, including dominance by global media conglomerates and their effects upon or resistance from national and local cultures will be considered later in the course.

Although the approach of this courses reflects the influence of two famous Canadian scholars on communication and culture, Harold Innis & Marshall McLuhan, we are employing a Marxist or critical perspective as well as a Feminist perspective at the 'macro' level, and Semiotics, discourse analysis & ethnomethodology at the micro level.

In addition to lectures, this course will employ audio- and video recordings, photographs, cartoons and other graphics.

Required Text:
Lorimer, Rowland & Mike Gasher (2004). Mass Communication in Canada, 5th. edition. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

Assignments & Evaluation:
Marks are allocated as follows:

A. Report 20%
About 5 to 7 pages, this report is intended as a summary of the major ideas presented in the text and/or class discussions. You are encouraged to make critical comments on them and to suggest how they could be applied to some current aspects of communication. This is intended to provide early feedback on your progress in this course.

B. Midterm Test (October 25th.) 20%
Essay-style questions provide an occasion to synthesize your knowledge and display the cumulative connections among central concepts.

C. Formal essay or project demonstration/presentation 35%
This consists of an essay on one of the listed topics. If you wish to select another topic, please consult the Instructor first. An alternative to an essay is a project/demonstration which you may present to the class.

D. Final Examination 25%

Topics & Readings:
1. Introduction: including Information Theory
* Text, chapter 1, pp. 1-12.

2. Communication & Culture: Innis & McLuhan, Modes of Communication
* Text, chapter 1, pp. 12-27.

3. Mass Communication, Mass Media, & Public Communication
* Text, chapter 2

4. Perspectives on the Role of the Mass Media in Society:
* overview of some perspectives, Text, pp. 61-63,
* for Marxist & Cultural Studies perspectives: Text, pp. 122-124, plus supplementary readings,
* Feminist perspective: Text, pp. 124-5 plus supplementary readings.

5. Ownership & Control of the Media:
* historical overview of the press, Text, pp. 55-61,
* Text, chapter 8

6. The Canadian Cultural Industries & Relevant Policies:
*Text, chapter 7,
*Broadcasting policy, pp. 152-161.

7. Analysis of Media Content (including programs, news, advertisements, music videos):
*Text, chapter 4,
*Supplementary materials.

8. Current Digital Communication Technologies & Their Effects:
* Text, chapter 10.

9. Globalization:
* Text, chapter 11.

1006 Introduction to Sociology
2313 Deviance
2513 Sociology of Communication
2613 Sociology of Gender
3013 Classical Sociological Theory
3023 Modern Sociological Theory
3513 Sociology of Education
3523 Sociology of Knowledge
3563 Sociology of Music
3573 Sociology of Art & Culture
4013 Senior Seminar
4033 Advanced Sociological Theory

Dr. Peter Weeks / Sociology / Faculty / STU Homepage