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The 'nutshells' provide concentrated summaries. Use the arrows or swipe across to explore topics in more detail, including key perspectives and sociologists.

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Topic 1 - Ownership & Control of the Media

In a nutshell

The ownership of the mass media is concentrated in the hands of a few large companies, that have the ability to control what people have access to. It has been argued that the media have an ideological role to spread the dominant hegemonic ideology of the ruling class, which encourages individuals to accept the inequality of society, according to Marxists. However, pluralists argue media content is not driven by a dominant ideology, but instead is driven by consumer interest.


In a nutshell

Globalisation has led to the increasing interconnectedness of societies across the globe, who now have access to the same media products. This has created a global village, in which time and space barriers have collapsed in human communication, making it instantaneous. Globalisation is largely linked to the increase of popular culture, which is referred to as passive and unchallenging entertainment, designed for the masses. However, it has been argued that globalisation has led to the imperialisation of Western culture on non-Western cultures.


In a nutshell

News is manufactured based on news values, which are a specific set of criteria which makes a story ‘newsworthy’ enough to be published. In most cases, these news values reflect the desire to make profit by encouraging ratings, hits and circulation of stories. In addition to this, the selection and presentation of news is based on agenda-setting and norm-setting, both which reflect the interests of the media conglomerates.


In a nutshell

In media content, young people, women, homosexuals, black people and disabled people are generally represented in a negative way. Young people and black people are seen as deviants that disrupt societal order, while women are portrayed merely as sexual objects, which refers to the idea of the male gaze outlined by Mulvey. Homosexuals, especially gay men, are underrepresented in the media because media owners do not want to risk ‘offending’ their audience or advertisers.  Disabled people are typically shown as an outsider group that has little relevance in society. In comparison, white, upper-class and heterosexual men are over-represented in the media, this is mainly because they reflect the owners of the large media corporations.

topic 5 - the rELATIOnship of the media, content, presentation and audiences

In a nutshell

Some sociologists suggest that consumers are passive when using and interpreting the media. For instance, the hypodermic syringe model suggests the media have the ability to inject media texts into the veins of audiences. However, some sociologists believe consumers are passive when using and interpreting the media because they have freedom and choice in what they want to consume, and can reject messages they do not agree with. Neo-Marxists reflect upon the encoding and decoding of media texts, and suggest that the dominant hegemonic viewpoint is accepted by most audiences. The relationship with the media also explores the uses and gratifications model, which implies people use the media for a variety of interests and needs.

topic 6 - the New Media

In a nutshell

The new media refers to digital, screen-based technology used for the consumption and distribution of the new digitised media content. These include tablets, smartphones, digital TV, electronic E-books etc. Cultural optimists/neophiliacs take an optimistic view on the new media, suggesting it has had positive impacts on society such as increased social life, greater democracy and so on. However, cultural pessimists oppose this view in suggesting the new media has had negative effects on society in the way it has undermined human relationships and connections, as well as increased surveillance and control of the consumer.

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