Media, Society, Culture and You
Posted: January 31, 2019 | Updated: January 14, 2022
Author: Mark Poepsel, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
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.
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Media, Society, Culture and You by Mark Poepsel, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
4.6 / 5
Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary
This is the strength of this book. It is up to date in terms of 2017/18. And the glossary is easy to use and in some instances refers back to the chapter/s that the term was used in the book. What I most enjoyed was the readable tone of this book. This book could be adopted in high school or post-secondary learning environments. The glossary is also clear to read and does not include subject matter expert jargon, which is often an issue with some books.
The book is a good primer to the subject matter. It offers clear and concise explanations and meaningful and timely examples. For instance, the media theories addressed in Chapter 3 can be obtusely explained, but not in this book. I could see how a social scientist instructor could grab this information for use and attribution.
Another strength of the book is its comprehensiveness. I do not normally note that a book is brilliant or a chapter in a book is brilliant, but I did with this book for Chapter 4 Film and Bricolage. I had nothing but positive comments to this section and nothing to add. Chapter 4 sold me on adopting the book for my TS 200 course. I will adopt this book when I teach the course next year. I also appreciated that the book referred to key moments such as a bystander filming police brutality. The usual suspects are not only employed in this book but different types of sources.
Likewise, the wide array of examples plays to the diversity within mass media consumption and creative prouser/ducer by everyone. The author understands and credits that regular folk also made media and share on social media platforms. That is, the author left no stone unturned with the content. I would advise that some updating to refer to Cambridge Analytica and numerous other issues that have come up related to the book’s content. But, an instructor can certainly add to it during the course of a class.
Comprehensiveness Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased
The included content ticks most boxes. My one concern and this is something that I always am looking for is the use of a wide array of references. In the first three to four chapters only men are cited and this is worth noting for another version. It’s great to include the photo of bell hooks and her quote, but why not include Laura Mulvey and her reference to the Male Gaze, Lisa Nakamura’s work about race and mass media, and many other women scholars. I did not see any errors—just the omissions. There was no bias in terms of what was presented.
Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement
The content is accurate and well-researched in terms of what is included. This is a fantastic primer in media studies. There are a few areas that need updating such as social movements. The section is thin and not wholly accurate for anyone has expertise in this area. It is a start. Likewise, the section on Globalization is also thin and it would be great to include a reference to Bollywood, as it is huge in comparison to Hollywood and offers an international example. And, the protectionist policies in other countries would be useful to reference.
Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used
The book's tone is probably the strongest part of this book. This book could be adopted in secondary or post-secondary learning environments. And, I think that a graduate student wanting a refresher or primer would find this book helpful. In some instances, I would suggest other terms and here I am thinking of the author's use of dreck. One media consumer's drek (trash) is another's gold. Do we need to use dreck?
Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework
The text is consistent. If a word is highlighted or in quotes, it is used throughout. The tone is consistent throughout the book and the glossary. The set up of each chapter with the brief summary and the "flow" of terms and examples makes the book easily read. Likewise, the paragraphs are brief and easy to read. The repeated use of a wide array of sources also makes the book easy to read. The sub-headings are clear and make sense in terms of the descriptors and making each sub-section easily understandable.
My one issue with the framework is that the mass media is often explained as a system itself and the author does not approach it this way and I'm curious about this. I cannot decide if it is an omission or if it is thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of media studies.
Consistency Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
The book is consistent in terms of how it is set up. The subheadings make sense and the materials are easily digestible thanks to the compact paragraphs and the use of the examples that vary from books, links to clips and other resources. I really enjoyed the links to the Popular Music by Year and the reference to how you can find how materials are disaggregated by gender, too. The author has also referenced Star Wars and South Park and this is a good use of popular culture to explain some of the points and not merely references to popular culture.
The snapshot feel to the book is wise for teaching undergraduates, as I could see how the sections could be taught online or in a lecture environment. The modularity of the book would work well in an online learning environment in an open environment or a learning management system. I can also see how the modularity will work well with slide deck use for teaching and learning.
Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion
The set up of the content is laid out in an artful manner. I most appreciate that the author included Digital Gaming. The Digital Gaming as Digital Culture section had me beaming as this is often not included in a Media Studies book, but included in Digital Humanities or an offshoot of a Computer Science course. The use of Legacy Media throughout is not only respectful, but to start with the printing press, penny press, and the change in the newspaper industry presents a thorough narrative of the richness of media studies clearly.
The book ends with a review of advertising, public relations, and propaganda. I am not sure most authors would include the part about propaganda, but advertising is rife with propaganda and most try to relate propaganda to political discourse. Media Studies in the 21st Century needs to include a discussion of brands, influencers, and brand ambassadors. Many of our students find YouTube and other social media influencers pervasive and explaining this phenomena in the last chapter is a strong part of the formatting of the book's content.
Organization Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader
The book is free of errors, links that do not work or distract. This is key with an open book--the examples work and are not dated.
Interface Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text contains no grammatical errors
I appreciate that the tone of the book is for the lay audience or more accessible as this will increase its use and adoption. The grammar, spelling, and punctuation of the book is on point. I did not see any errors.
Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds
The book is respectful and the tone makes the book accessible to secondary and post-secondary readers. A graduate student needing to brush up in the area would also find the book helpful. I noted that book could include more references to women scholars and examples of more diverse groups in terms of the photos and other examples. But, I'd like to see some more international examples or photos of non-white folks.
Cultural Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?
Yes, and I will adopt this book in one of my courses. This book was a real pleasure to read and review. I see the ways that I can use the book and adopt for my Technology and Society course. I also will suggest this book to some colleagues at my home institution, as well as other institutions.
The table of contents in a book is important. It truly is the menu for the reader and when I was reviewing possible books for my use, the table of contents stood out. I cannot wait to use the book with my TS students.