Thursday, December 28, 2017

Summary: Living with Television: The Violence Profile / Gerbner and Gross

Gerbner, G. and Gross, L. (1976) “Living with Television: The Violence Profile”. Journal of Communication 26(2): 172-199.

The environment that sustains the most distinctive aspects of human existence is the environment of symbols. We learn, share, and act upon meanings, derived from that environment.  TV is most likely to remain the chief source of repetitive and ritualized symbol systems, which will lead to a common consciousness and heterogeneous mass publics in history.
TV was found to have established order and serves primarily to extend and maintain rather to alter, threaten, or weaken conventional conceptions, beliefs, and behaviors. TV is a medium of socialization of most people into standardized roles and behaviors.
The social, political, and economic, integration of modern industrial society has created a system in which few communities can maintain an independent integrity. TV is the common ground among different groups that make up a large national community. No national achievement, celebration, or mourning seems real until it is confirmed and shared on television.
Never before have so many classes and groups shared so much of the same culture and the same perspective while having little to do with their creation.  Representation in the world of television gives and an idea, a cause, a group it’s self of public identity, importance, and relevance.
Television, the flagship of industrial mass culture, now rivals ancient religions as a purveyor of organic patterns of symbols- news and other entertainment – that animate national and even global communities sense of reality and value.
The authors do not believe that TV violence is to be found in the stimulation of occasional individual aggression. The consequences of living in a symbolic world ruled largely by violence might be much more far reaching.
TV violence is a dramatic demonstration of power, which communicates much about social norms and relationships, about goals and means, winners and losers and about the risks of life and the price for transgressions of society’s values. 
There may be a connection because the expectation of violence or passivity in the face of injustice may be consequences of even greater concern.
Real life is hidden from our eyes, motives are obscure, outcomes ambiguous, personalities complex, people unpredictable. The truth is never pure and simple. On TV this is different it offers us clarity, and resolution.
TV provides the broadest common back ground of assumptions not only about what things are but also how they work, should work and why?
We assume that TV’s standardizing and legitimizing influence comes from its ability to stream line, amplify, ritualize, and spread into isolated or protected subcultures of the mass produced information and entertainment.
All the media research that has been done on the correlation between TV and Violence has missed the point because they look at a particular  program or isolated scenes and cases. What they missed is that TV drama consists of a complex and integrated system of characters, events, actions, and relationships who affects cannot be measured with regard to any single element to program seen in isolation.  
Their analysis looks at the contribution of TV drama to the viewer conceptions in conjunction with such other sources of knowledge as education and news. And how these sources of facts, images, beliefs, and values play into assumptions of reality.
Representation in the fictional world signifies social significance, absence means symbolic annihilation.
TV can present promises of the way that society, people and issues can be.  Which puts the symbolic world in a place where it has meaning of it own.
Violence plays a key role in the world of Television because it is the simplest and cheapest way to show the rules of the game of power. In the symbolic world, physical motion makes dramatically visible that which in the real world is usually hidden.
Violence on TV does not stem from close personal relationships like it does in the real world.
The structural characteristics of television drama are not easily controlled. The reflect basic cultural assumptions that make a show entertaining by fitting into dominate notions about social relations and thus demonstrating conventional notions of morality and power.
Result: a heightened sense of risk and insecurity, is more likely to increase dependence on a established authority, and to legitimize it use of force, than it is to threaten the social order.
Television maybe does not cultivate fear and aggression but it does cultivate a sense of mistrust and danger. Violence on TV appears to cultivate assumptions that fit into socially functional myths.

Does TV incite or pacify? The environment that sustains the most distinctive aspects of human existence is the environment of symbols. We share, learn and act upon meanings from that environment. TV is and will remain the biggest source of symbols and symbolic systems that makes up common consciousness of mass publics.
The reach, scope, ritualization, organic connectedness, and non selective use of mainstream TV makes it different from other media of mass communications. 

Gerber + gross
-       does TV incite or pacify?
-       Tv as main source of ritualized and repetition of symbol system cultivating common consensus most heterogeneous society in history
→ investigation of violence in network TV drama, 60s + 70s
Assumption → tv as central cultural aim of American society
                   → agency of established order – maintain rather than alter
                   → spread and stabilize social structure
                   → medium of most people socialization into standardised roles (?)
  • ‘living’ in the world of tv cultivates conception of its own conventionalized reality.
-       time of program more important than individual tastes
-       “system” of message
-       Fear as historical instrument of social control
-       Expectation of violence and passivity in face of injustice (diff than enforcement of social norms)
-       Reality looks of tv hides its selective nature –trojan horse of facts of life
  1. tv vs reality
  2. tv answer vs real
Violence - 6/10 characters involved in violence!
-       social reality cultivated morein heavy viewers
-       especially in areas of little personal expirience
→→ heightened sense of risk and insecurity → leads to dependence upon established authority and legitimizes its use of force.

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