Considering the degree of awareness that has developed amongst people across the world in the last few years, it has become natural for the people of today to attempt to find out cause and effect patterns in the societal structures within which they live. In this regard, people have begun to become increasingly concerned about the relationships that exist between their personal lives and the implications that social problems have upon them. This paper shall attempt to highlight the numerous differences that one may find between the two perspectives of the media and that of a sociologist and shall attempt to elaborate upon the numerous causes that lead to the development of this discrepancy between the perspectives developed by both on the same social problems.
Because of the reasons mentioned above, the media has begun to take an active interest and has begun to carry out a highly active participation in “social constructionism” (Stam, 2001) through talk shows and focus group based shows that bring social problems to the forefronts of discussions and allow people to gain an insight into the numerous intricacies of social problems that plague the modern day society. However, as the media has attempted to do so, there have been numerous occasions where a perspective presented by the media on a social problem is the complete opposite of the perspective that a sociologist would develop to the same problem.
Sociologists tend to take a view of social problems in a perspective that one would very rarely encounter in the media. This is partially because of the reason that the perspective that the media chooses to adopt regarding a particular situation is more than often influenced by internal and external factors that pertain to the media and it is for the same reason that it is not uncommon that different media sources develop starkly different perspectives regarding the same situation and present it to the public.
Another reason because of which one can expect to find a difference between the perspective that the media develops on a social problem and the perspective that a sociologist develops on a social problem is that the media is more than often faced with situations where they have to consider commercial aspects and similar aspects such as viewer ratings. In times such as these, commercial media sources choose to develop perspectives on social problems that they know will eventually encourage their audience to come back to them for additional information regarding the same issues. In instances such as these, the perspectives that are highlighted by the media may not always be the clearest and most sincere picture since they are usually designed to give the audience the view of a social issue that they want to see rather than giving them a view that would make them uncomfortable.
There are four perspectives that sociologists generally utilize one of four fundamental perspectives in their assessment of social problems. These are the functionalist perspective, the conflict perspective, the feminist perspective, and the interactionist perspective. When the media sheds light on a social problem, it begins to use these four perspectives in a contorted mixture that is designed to keep the audience entertained so that the audience does not lose the attention that they have developed in that particular source of media. This practice on the part of the media is generally known as infotainment and is commonly adhered to by the modern day media (Anderson, 2004).
It is essential to highlight at this point that another fundamental cause of the difference between the perspectives that are held by the media and by sociologists towards the same social problems are more than often because of the fact that the media chooses to develop a perspective towards social problems that is based on the objective reality of the social problem in most cases. The fact of the matter is that out of the desire to succeed commercially, the media tends to opt for the promotion of any one of the objective reality or the subjective reality that draws in the largest audience. In this regard, the media ignores the sensitive balance between the two forms of reality that every social problem possesses (Berger & Luckmann, 1967). The sociologist on the other hand, chooses to asses each problem in the perspective that best suits the problem and ensures that the social problem is neither exaggerated out of proportion nor denied the importance that it deserves.
From the above discussion, we can concur that the differences between the perspectives that are held by sociologists and the media towards social problems that are prevalent in society are because of the fact that both choose to adopt a different approach to the subject social problems altogether. Their primary outlook towards the reason because of which they should delve into social problems and gain an understanding of them differs remarkably and it is for the same reason that both eventually develop differing perspectives regarding the same.
Anderson, B. (2004). News flash: journalism, infotainment, and the bottom-line business of broadcast news. John Wiley and Sons.
Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1967). The social construction of reality: a treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Doubleday.
Stam, H. J. (2001). Introduction: Social Constructionism and Its Critics. Theory & Psychology , 11 (3), 291-296.