Media, Society, Culture and You
Mark Poepsel, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Pub Date: 2018
Publisher: Rebus Community
Conditions of Use
This text seems great for an introductory-level class for classes designed for discovery of the discipline or for high school students. The glossary is solid, and does link to specific pages in the textbook (though there requires some digging to... read more
This text seems great for an introductory-level class for classes designed for discovery of the discipline or for high school students. The glossary is solid, and does link to specific pages in the textbook (though there requires some digging to find where on those pages). However, while there was a glossary, I had trouble finding an index, if there was one. I think the text does cover the areas and subjects appropriately; however, my issues are more with how the textbook is laid out more with regards to comprehensiveness. I am curious why the author chose the specific media he did and chose to omit some others (such as print). I understand, as the author notes in the preface, that the idea is to be a purely introductory text, but I am not sure I would use this in an introductory course for a major's class requirement.
I like the introduction to the mass media history. This is a clear point of introduction without going into too much depth. If you are looking for more focus on this, though (as I do depending on the class), then I would need to add supplemental materials to get a fuller picture of the story. There are also moments where concepts are introduced in the history that feel out of place. What I really would have liked to see more of here are examples to help make these connections. They weren't wrong; just felt oddly out of place. If I were reading them as a student, I would feel overwhelmed with all of the concepts thrown at me without any sort of applicable breakdown. I would also like to note a few concerns about trying to simplify complicated theories. For example, in the chapter on Digital Gaming, the author discusses Social Learning Theory but fails to go into depth or explain the major component of that theory, which posits that rewards and punishment is what dictates our social learning from media. Since this is a major component of this theory, and the author instead focuses on the idea that the media only amplifies previous behavior (which discounts some major research on this theory), the textbook falls flat for me.
This was hard to pinpoint, as the discussion of particular movements and technologies could become obsolete, which would make the author's promise of updating this textbook every year important. For example, the author has a brief (yet awkwardly placed) discussion about sexual assault in Hollywood (calling upon the #metoo movement) and then says that Hollywood needs to change to show more diversity. With this past year, we saw more of this change come about in filmmaking, so statements like these (that are more than likely designed to encourage discussion on specific issues) would need to be updated to highlight what that looks like. I see how these would be easy to implement here, particularly in the chapters related to the specific media types.
This is my biggest issue with the textbook. The prose is hard to follow at times and certain elements seem to be jammed together into paragraphs that should warrant further discussion or commentary for an introductory book. There are also several moments of awkward phrasing and semantics that cause certain sections to fall flat. For example, the use of the word "dreck" in the chapter on television. While, yes, the term is defined, the slang term feels odd here. I see this happening throughout, as well, and find myself concerned for students who may have learning, cultural, and/or language barriers. Students in an introductory course would potentially study based on highlighted words, so by highlighting slang, this takes away from the clarity for me.
I can say the text was consistent with how each chapter was approached. However, some chapters are longer than others, where those short chapters could have been expanded and certain concepts introduced in the long chapters seemed unnecessary.
This was a strength of the text. Each chapter is broken into smaller subsections.
There are only a few moments (such as the section on the #metoo movement) that felt oddly out of place with regards to transition. My biggest issue with organization was with the transition from section to section.
The only issue I found here was with the glossary/text hyperlinks. The glossary items did not connect to specific sections and instead just referred to an entire chapter, which requires people to dig through the entire chapter to find the placement. Similarly, the text hyperlinks go to the full glossary instead of directly to the item. This was easier than the glossary-to-textbook scrolling (as they were in alphabetical order), but I wonder if something could still be done to fix this.
There were only a few moments of grammatical errors. I had more concern with the clarity in writing than with the grammatical component of the prose.
While I did not find much offensive content, I also noticed a lack of inclusivity. When there were examples, the references did not include much diversity outside of white and heteronormative storylines. Considering the history of media as such, this is not particularly a bad thing, but at least mentions of this (such as that awkwardly placed #metoo conversation) would do wonders to amplify this text's usability.
While I would probably not use this textbook in my major college courses, I would consider using this as a baseline (with supplemental materials) for high school students or students in a simplified discovery course outside of the major (such as elective seekers who do not need a stronger baseline).
This text's title implies an ambitious goal: to discuss the convergence of media, culture, society, and the individual. Yet through some brisk chapters covering an array of forms including social media, the impact of technology and digitization on... read more
This text's title implies an ambitious goal: to discuss the convergence of media, culture, society, and the individual. Yet through some brisk chapters covering an array of forms including social media, the impact of technology and digitization on the music industry, gaming culture, and more ubiquitous and familiar forms like film and television, this book gives a good overview of this topic for an introductory course. I also appreciate the author's attention to the generation of these forms: providing some historical and developmental background information on the various types of media the text covers. This text is also impressively up-to-date, for example covering trends in television from its inception up to and including streaming. Of course, in this field most texts have to be updated frequently. It's also worth considering that a text about media so often links to various parts of the textbook itself (terms in the glossary), and to online articles and videos for supplemental content.
Based on my previous knowledge and teaching experience in this field, I do not believe any of the content here is inaccurate.
Though clearly this textbook is intended for the introductory course and student and covers a broad range of content, its breadth and depth are sufficient to encourage deeper thinking about very current issues inherent in media and culture, including the concept of fake news, threats to journalism, targeted advertising, the rise of online special-interest groups, censorship, and ideological fringe thinking being provided with public platforms. This text also attempts to use of-the-moment language to discuss these concepts-- what might be considered "slang" terms such as 'IRL,' and 'spoiler alert:' these *could* limit the longevity of the text, but I believe they may make the reading more 'hip;' connected and relevant to students. Through a (brief) discussion of media history and development in each chapter, this book offers suggestions on WHY and HOW contemporary media has evolved to its current form, how the forces of culture and society have acted to shape media and vice-versa, and would allow space for student inquiry about where those forms might go from here with a good foundational awareness.
This text is very readable, maintaining a somewhat conversational tone that lends itself to discussions of media and elements of popular culture, but is also professional in its presentation of terminology and concepts important for comprehension. Glossary links provide additional clarification for specific terms. It's clear this is an introductory text, however, so it's possible to see room for additional depth in some areas.
The layout and organization of the book is consistent throughout, and offers similar amounts of information on each topic.
Modularity is good, though I'll note that some headings are center-justified and others are left-justified; while I think some were organizationally rationalized, perhaps bold would have been more useful in spots. There are a good number of headings and sub-headings, which would allow "chunked" reading for students breaking up study time, and for instructors using various bits of text at different times in class. Further, chapters are not overly dependent on one another, which would allow some flexibility in assigning reading in a different order.
While there's certainly nothing wrong with the chapter organization here, I'm not sure what rationale was used in creating it. Though each chapter includes a bit of history, it might have made more sense to me to begin with print and radio-type media and move forward historically to digital media and online environments. However, I can also see that sort of organization as potentially less interesting for students, who tend to live in a more digital world. Within each chapter, the sections flow nicely and transitions make sense. The number of headings and sub-headings also inhibit a reader losing their place or momentum when linking out to some of the supplemental content (articles and videos) online.
The interface has good utility and works smoothly when read online. The TOC is easily navigable and clear, and links to supplemental, online content worked seamlessly for me. I saw no technical issues of presentation, but a text focused on media might do better with images. It's worthwhile noting that students using software for the visually impaired will find text captions with each image for descriptions that include the image's source, but the images themselves could be larger overall, both for visibility and for effect.
I encountered no glaring errors of grammar, punctuation, or spelling.
A fair variety of cultures are represented in the text, including examples discussing the Arab Spring and the Eric Garner case. One aspect I find to be a little light is the topic of online harassment: how various identities function on social media, and how "troll" campaigns affect a variety of users and organizations. The text does acknowledge individuality, social groups, and cultural groups to which students/readers might belong, but a text that discusses Twitter and online dating should probably also consider how hate speech (racist, sexist, and even violent) can be proliferated online, and what societal subgroups can be affected by that power.
I definitely enjoy this textbook having chapters on everything from film to advertising to gaming (and including things like gaming, etc.). The table of contents could be slightly more detailed - I wouldn't mind seeing subtopics or subheds in the... read more
I definitely enjoy this textbook having chapters on everything from film to advertising to gaming (and including things like gaming, etc.). The table of contents could be slightly more detailed - I wouldn't mind seeing subtopics or subheds in the TOC, for instance, so I could tell the students what was coming up. Great, up-to-date glossary and content in general. Didn't see an index; that would be helpful.
As far as I can tell, and I'm not an expert on every area of media and society, of course, this information is accurate. I would say that one area I found somewhat inaccurate is the images, too many of which are of white people and white males in particular. Not accurate to the population of the US and CERTAINLY not for the world.
Here's the thing with media textbooks: They *have* to be updated often, or they're quickly out-dated (For instance, I'm using a textbook from 2015 right now, and it's wildly out of date in terms of YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Tumblr, Hollywood, the music industry, and podcasts.) This one is relevant and has a lot of room for altering paragraphs or sections as media ownership and consolidation happen, or (on a positive note) as independent newbies come on the scene.
The text is mostly bold and clear, but sometimes the author conveys strong points of view in a passive way - "it is feared" or "It is anticipated," etc. - that doesn't allow students to understand the research or the reason that the author presents this idea.
The framework is fairly clear - based on Dewey, which is certainly one way to look at models of communication.
The digital PDF is a little unwieldy, and it certainly doesn't have the kind of modularity I'd like to see in terms of text chunking and subunit assignment (this is related to the chapters and lack of subheds that I mentioned earlier). Perhaps another form is better? I'd really prefer many more chunked links within chapters that I could assign to students as reading during a term.
The flow is good and the organization is fine, if what seems like opposite day to me, roughly in reverse order of how the various mass media appeared - but roughly in order of relevance to students' current lives, so that could work well to interest them (or, of course, a prof could assign chapters in a different order, as one often does).
The PDFs work just fine; I didn't test out the EPUB.
Excellent, as one would hope in a communications textbook.
The text and images need some serious overhaul in this arena to make both outwardly and clearly relevant to various groups of people. How is Twitter specifically different for Black Women than it is for white dudes (it's different, and, for instance, Feminista Jones' Reclaiming Our Space has a fair amount of research on that topic)? How about some links to sources that discuss more information about Birth of a Nation? What about picturing Asian Americans and Latinx people within the text - and as dominant consumers of movies who are underserved by Hollywood? The text and images have a lot of reality to face.
This introduction to media studies textbook is somewhat narrowly focused, and while at times that narrowness helps it achieve its aims, it also sometimes suppresses information that might be useful for students to have to make informed decisions.... read more
This introduction to media studies textbook is somewhat narrowly focused, and while at times that narrowness helps it achieve its aims, it also sometimes suppresses information that might be useful for students to have to make informed decisions. This is perhaps ironic, since the author argues that readers should question the text's own biases in order to practice true critical media literacy, one of the text's central aims. This ever-present self-awareness and/or self-reflexivity training are welcome guests who are not normally invited to this kind of party. While there is an attempt to mention and briefly define key the usual media studies suspects (e.g. gate-keeping, agenda-setting), the text is more of a history of media told in reverse chronological order, always linked to the present through a retelling of each of media's evolution) and infused with a few select theories that are more recent (e.g. bricolage). This is not an impotent formalism or sterile list dates, but a living document in the prime of its life, constantly pointing to what surrounds us and explaining how and when those things got into our line of sight. It's almost as if the text itself is changing as we read it, which is critical to ensuring that an academic discipline that always has one foot in the future is appropriately represented.
The content is accurate and seemingly error-free, but this reviewer found the textbook to be biased. This bias is embodied in the fact that a tiny handful of media theorists are mentioned (e.g. Mark Deuze, whose work is referenced to such a degree that the chapter "Digital Culture and Social Media" is practically solely a paraphrase of his ideas. This while Marshall McLuhan isn't mentioned once, despite the vulnerability of the text to accusations of having a technological determinism bent (so maybe therefore proving that it doesn't, as this reviewer mentions above).
This book is practically brand new (completed in 2017, but not widely distributed until 2018), the relevance of the technologies, media and cultural artifacts are up-to-date, barring an occasional lapse (e.g. the use of "Gangnam Style" for an analogy in Chapter 2, even though the author directly acknowledges that readers are likely tired of hearing about the song and video). What makes this text particularly relevant is its emphasis on teaching media history through the lens of digital technologies without ignoring those technologies remediated predecessors. This reviewer believes that students would find this easy to relate to their own lives and engagement with media. (This reviewer found it easy to do so because of that reason, but this reviewer is also twice the age of his students.) Newspapers: important in media studies? Yes, but not discussed in detail until Chapter 9, and then only in conjunction with their online cousins. Radio? Yes, but in relation to the "superbug" audio medium of podcasting. Brilliant move if one wants a 19-year-old to keep (or even start) reading).
The prose in this text is easy to follow and engaging (again, it's self-awareness is pleasant, and the use of phrases like "dozenth time" in Chapter 3 help kept this reviewer from checking Instagram one-third of the way through what could have been a snore of a read). More complex terms, such as "remediation," are defined clearly, with plentiful examples, and there is a substantive glossary at the end of the text.
The text sticks to its future-centric, main, hand-picked ideas and its formula of "Yes, there's this old media thing we need to talk about, but---hey look over there at how exciting it is now!" One major problem with this is that its betrothal to some of these concepts seems inappropriately reductivist. One of the most telling examples of this is the text's compression of the cultural significance of the history and industry of film into an example of bricolage. Perhaps this reviewer is just sore about that chapter because he studies film, but it happens in other sections as well (this reviewer has no personal stake in the study of gaming, but its distillation in Chapter 8 into an illustration of how society tells stories to itself seems unfair and even incomplete). If this reviewer has learned anything from his 19-year-old students in recent years, it's that many of their lives are ruled by gaming, and that medium is astonishingly multifaceted).
One could skip over chapters and leave out major media as this reviewer has had to do with some much longer textbooks, but this text is written along the lines of the "very short introduction" series (that's a good thing, although there isn't much in the way of references to external sources or links to outside material). It's short, to-the-point and surprisingly comprehensive in its brevity. Leaving out any part of this story as its been told here would be akin to not reading all but one of the Harry Potter novels. Again, the emphasis on the current shifting digital mediascape unifies this text in a positive way, and it should present no difficulties in being used in an 11-week community college course or a semester (perhaps then with many extra readings/viewings).
This review has already detailed the structure of the text, but perhaps it might be a good time to reiterate that that structure makes this an eminently readable book. This reviewer learned a few new things and is of the opinion that students would as well, even if their individual lives are already sunk deep into the sea of music piracy.
The text is strikingly non-multimedia given its love of the same, and some of the photographs seem casually thrown in to break up the text (which they do in a nicely laid out way). See Chapter 9 and newspapers and digital news for a good example of this reliance on stock images. Also, why are there no hyperlinks? Much of this material could have been supplemented by other media besides print text and photography. (Note: this reviewer read the digital PDF version of the text.)
No major (or even minor) issues were apparent. The author, Mark Poepsel, is the kind of writer whose prose would serve not only as informative to students, but also as a strong model of how to write well in order to keep an audience engaged. It's informal in its phrasings at times, but that only adds to its attractiveness.
Again, none noticed. Group culture is discussed in such a way that recognizes difference and multiple identities. While there seems to have been an effort to specifically mention different historically marginalized groups such as Chinese-Americans, there are times when opportunities (a section on how there is no single America) were lost to delve deeper into those different Americas. The text's focus on media in the context of globalization force it to recognize a variety of ethnicities, races, and backgrounds.
Despite some of the minor criticisms lodged above, this reviewer will likely be adopting this text as the new required text for his intro to media studies course. It's not perfect, but it does much in a small space. Students might even read the entire thing.
The book touches on many important topics with regard to media, communication, culture, and social institutions. In the first three chapters the author introduces the main concepts about these topics. Then each of the following chapters goes... read more
The book touches on many important topics with regard to media, communication, culture, and social institutions. In the first three chapters the author introduces the main concepts about these topics. Then each of the following chapters goes through one particular type of mass media including film, TV, radio etc. The one major issue, however, is that the book is organized around the concept of mass media and mass communication. These concepts were developed in a specific historical context and have serious limits when used to understand the contemporary social and media environment. Although the author spends some space introducing digital media and digital culture in chapter 2, the discussions about how new media technology has related to new social developments such as individualization and globalization as well as how it has affected the mass media and communication can be more elaborate and in-depth.
On the one hand, concepts and topics in the book are often introduced on the most general level, which is understandable for the book is geared toward the lower level undergraduate students. On the other hand the book sometimes relies on only one or two theorists or academic sources to introduce a whole complex field of study. For instance, Deuze on digital culture in chapter two. Consequently, the content may be accurate in the sense that the author more or less summarizes the source truthfully but it may not present all the perspectives in a balanced or nuanced manner.
The organization of the topics is fairly mainstream. Like most introductory level textbooks on mass media and communication, the chapters are divided according to each major type of mass media. Within each chapter, the author does touch on some, not all, important and current issues that reflect the changing media and social environment. I guess it would not be too difficult to keep track on the ongoing development of these issues and update the content accordingly. But the current structure may not be the most adaptive to capture the more radical future developments when the boundaries of the mass media become less and less clear.
The text is indeed written in lucid and accessible prose. The technical concepts are explained with very accessible language. However, that also means sometimes the concepts are presented in a simplistic manner that does not reflect their complexity. More relevant examples of these concepts may be a good way to go.
Yes, the book is consistent in terms of the terminology and framework. The first three chapters present the main concepts and the following chapters examine the different mass media in terms of their history and current development.
The book does well in this regard. The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course. It is also easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
The topics in the text are presented in a logical and clear fashion. One suggestion is that instead of anchoring on important yet often abstract concepts, the book may be oriented more around important questions about how the newest developments of the various mass media affect the political, economic and cultural realms of our society.
I read the pdf version of the book. The one concern of mine is that the figures in the book can be more relevant, interesting, informative and aesthetically appealing...
The author seems to be an English native speaker. So I didn't see any grammatical mistakes. The language is very accessible.
The book touches on the concept of culture in a very general way. It doesn't seem to discuss many issues with regards to race, gender and ethnicity. It is certainly not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. But it also fails to discuss some important issues along those lines.
This textbook covers a lot of ground, though some of the chapters are extremely short: the chapter on gaming, for example, is only 5 pages. The first two chapters are the most complete. It's almost as if the author ran out of steam as the project... read more
This textbook covers a lot of ground, though some of the chapters are extremely short: the chapter on gaming, for example, is only 5 pages. The first two chapters are the most complete. It's almost as if the author ran out of steam as the project went on, since the chapters get shorter and shorter. The chapter on Digital Cultures is the most complete. The chapter on Media Literacy is okay, though the topic is conflated with media research as well, which I would separate. In contrast to another reviewer, I think a chapter on print is still important, as print media are undergoing a lot of transformation to stay relevant in the digital age. There's no index, though the glossary is decently written. If the glossary had page or chapter numbers next to each term, that might help.
The content is accurate, and I had no issues with any of the material. I just wish there was MORE of the material. One way to boost the accuracy would be to include a References/Further Reading section, ideally at the end of each chapter or the textbook as a whole.
For now, the examples used in the text are up-to-date. My biggest concern about open-source textbooks is how well they will be maintained in the future. Many Media Studies textbooks will include graphs and statistics about current media usage rates, revenue charts for Hollywood and television, statistics on the number of people using emerging technologies (like listening to podcasts), etc. This book doesn't have any of that, which helps it stay evergreen longer. However, it also makes the book less useful, as there's not a lot of substantive data about how media affects society.
Very easy to read, the language is relatable. Some of the paragraphs are quite long, which makes reading difficult when the book is formatted into a single column. Shorter paragraphs, or wider margins, would help the reading.
The language and quality of the material is consistent, and the text has a unified voice. Sometimes the pictures aren't always relevant (one chapter has a picture of an unappealing stew) and some chapters do better with the pictures than others. The biggest inconsistency, as noted earlier, is the chapter lengths.
Overall the author did a good job on breaking the text down into manageable parts.
The first couple chapters are okay, but the ordering of the other chapters doesn't make much sense. I would put the chapters in order of when different media were invented: print, radio, photography, film, television, gaming, and internet. I would also separate the chapters on advertising and public relations, and flesh out the chapter on journalism. The book ends without much of a conclusion, so a chapter on the Future of Media or something like that would help bring the topic to a close. Of course, as this is an open-source textbook, a professor could easily rearrange the chapters to suit the needs of the course.
I read the PDF version of the textbook: no issues here.
Well-written and edited from a grammatical perspective.
The book does well in this area.
My overriding thought, as I reviewed this textbook, was: would I use this for my own introduction to mass communication course? In it's current form, I'd say no. There's not enough substance here to carry a course for the entire semester. I think the author has a great foundation, and I hope this text is expanded in the future. A text like this is definitely needed, as even used textbooks on this topic can run $60-75. If the text is expanded, re-organized, and includes more relevant pictures, I would strongly consider using it in the future.
The glossary is good and the book covers a wide array of topics. That said, some major areas of media are given very short chapters - in particular film, television, and gaming. Trimming back on the history of these media is a good idea, but there... read more
The glossary is good and the book covers a wide array of topics. That said, some major areas of media are given very short chapters - in particular film, television, and gaming. Trimming back on the history of these media is a good idea, but there is not much on where these types of media are heading in future. The author also omitted a chapter on print media, which I view as a very good choice. Having taught a class in this topic just last semester, having a full chapter of a textbook focused on printed books (and thus, history) did slow down our progress through the course. The author of this work did a good job of working that history into the introductory chapters of the book. The work also include discussion of communication theory - something which many other texts at this level omit but brings a lot to media study. It also could have been beneficial to have a chapter on ethics as well.
Overall this work seems very accurate and unbiased. Though on page 59 there was a typo saying that Alex Winter played Ted in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. That part was actually played by Keanu Reeves (Alex Winter played Bill S. Preston, Esq.).
It is clear this was written in 2018. Mentioning recent current events AS current events like the #Metoo movement adds relevance, but as to how that will be seen in 10 years time remains to be seen. A better approach might be to note these events, but not mention them as recent.
Clear and informal writing help to make this book very accessible to students. Further, the author does a good job of explaining some complex communication theories in easy to understand language.
The terms and idea found throughout the book are consistent. The ideas found in chapters 1 and 3 also appear throughout, and are helpful in building a framework for understanding media.
The author did a great job of breaking down information into manageable sections. This makes for material that is much simpler to teach and easy for students to understand. There were a few examples where the text was somewhat self referential - such as in talking about Bricologe.
I have to say this is perhaps one of the weaker points. Chapter 1 opens well, but then Chapter 2 is on digital and social media and then AFTER that Chapter 3 goes into communication theory. I am not sure why social media is considered somehow separated from the other media covered in the book (film, gaming, ect). Moreover, having theory precede social media would allow the reader to begin to apply the theories described to social media. A good solution to this would be either integrating theory into the introduction, or having it as chapter 2. Another smaller issue is related to including news media nearer the end of the book. I would argue that this would fit better nearer the chapter on digital and social media in that the book starts with non-fiction media (social media and theory) and then moves to entertainment/fiction (film, TV, and music), then back to non-fiction again.
No noted issues related to this.
Writing overall was clear and easy to understand. Didn't catch mistakes in this area.
The text does well on this front.
This looks to be a good starting point for a media studies class. The only reason I would hesitate to use it is because it is a starting point rather than fully comprehensive. There are many ideas and approaches omitted presumably to keep the text succinct. That is not bad in itself, because if it was a freshman level course that would be good. For a 200, 300, or 400 level however this would perhaps would better as a supplemental reading.
Table of Contents
1. Media, Society, Culture and You
2. Digital Culture and Social Media
3. Media Literacy and Media Studies Research
4. Film and Bricolage
5. Television through Time
6. Music Recording, "Sharing" and the Information Economy
7. Radio Broadcasting, Podcasting and "Superbug Media"
8. Digital Gaming
9. Newspapers and Digital News
10. Advertising, Public Relations and Propaganda
About the Book
Media, Society, Culture, and You is an approachable introductory Mass Communication text that covers major mass communication terms and concepts including "digital culture." It discusses various media platforms and how they are evolving as Information and Communication Technologies change.
This book has been peer-reviewed by 6 subject experts and is now available for adoption or adaptation. If you plan to adopt or adapt this open textbook, please let us know by filling out our adoption form.
You can view the book's Review Statement for more information about reviewers and the review process. An Accessibility Assessment for this is book has also been prepared to see how this book meets accessibility standards.
About the Contributors
Mark Poepsel, Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Ph.D. Univerisity of Missouri-Columbia; M.A. University of Arizona.