It has become a commonplace to assert “the media” as pervasive and powerful in changing our society. But what are the media and how do they work? Who owns and controls them? How do media as social institutions maintain, legitimize, and reinforce social relations, structures, and inequality in our society? How do audiences consume, appropriate, and resist dominant media representations? How do digital technologies constitute and transform media culture? This course will introduce you to major theoretical approaches in media and communication studies as well as some of the most important social issues in relation to mass media and emerging digital technologies. In so doing, we will develop critical resources to better understand the complex relationship between media production, representations, and consumption.

The course is organized around three overarching questions: First, in what ways does the work of communication professionals influence individuals in society, as citizens and as consumers? Second, how are meanings created in mediated communication processes and what are the roles of citizens and consumers in this process? Third, how do media and communication relate to critical issues in the digital era? Why might the media be deemed to contribute to certain problems? Many of the theories covered in this course have wide-ranging implications for our understanding of media and communication.