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Study Notes

Attitudes to New Media

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 25 Aug 2018

Curran and Seaton (2003) have written about the role of the media in society over a number of years, and in 2003 updated their research to consider the role of the new media.

Curran and Seaton identified big differences in the attitudes of individuals to new media, and categorised these as two groups:


Neophiliacs are people who are positive about the benefits of the media.

Neophiliacs believe that new forms of media (e.g. social media) have led to an increased amount of choice for consumers and has also led to the revitalisation of democracy and democratic engagement. How has it done this? By giving audiences control over the media they consume (through interactivity and choice) and increasing engagement in other aspects of society too. The Arab Spring, for example, was partly sparked by interactions through the new media, such as Facebook or mobile phone messaging platforms.

Cultural pessimists

Cultural pessimists are people who are critical about the new media.

For instance, cultural pessimists argue that the development of the internet has led to us living in an increased state of surveillance. Companies like Facebook and Google use individual’s data to help target advertising.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal (2018) adds significantly to this sort of analysis. There are also concerns about such media exposing people to crime, in terms of identity theft, for instance. Cultural pessimists would argue that the new media has all the disadvantages of the old (controlled by big corporations, can have negative influences on audiences, etc.) but brings a great many new extra disadvantages along with it, not least the prevalence of inaccurate information. Some point to Wikipedia as an example of something that appears formal and authoritative but can actually be amended by anybody.

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