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TV and Sociological Perspectives, Essay Example

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Words: 329

Essay

The role of television can be analyzed from three sociological perspectives to determine how the device impacts society. These perspectives include conflict theory, symbolic interactionism, and functionalism.

Conflict theory argues that society is “composed of groups that engage in fierce competition for scarce resources” (Henslin 15). The best representations of this theory at work on television are game shows in which individuals are pitted against each other in order to win a prize. For instance, on the television show Survivor, sixteen to twenty strangers must fight to be the last man, or woman, standing in order to claim a grand prize of $1 million.

Symbolic interactionism contends that people will evaluate their “own conduct by comparing themselves with others” (Henslin 12; McClelland). This perspective can be seen in both reality and programmed television. For instance, reality programming like Jersey Shore may make people feel superior to the people that the show depicts because of how people on Jersey Shore are depicted; for instance the case of Jersey Shore is loud, obnoxious, and crass and not a realistic portrayal of people that live on Jersey Shore. Furthermore, because of the how the cast carries themselves, the viewer may find amusement in what they do, but would probably never emulate them.

Functionalism studies society as a whole unit that is made up of many parts that work together (Henslin 13). For instance, reality television allows viewers to see what is trending, as well as exposes them to products and product placement. Television gives advertisers a medium to expose consumers to brands and services.

These three perspectives demonstrate the functions that television has and how television can be used to provide insight into individuals and society. Moreover, television helps to measure a society at a specific time or era as programming reflects current values and belief systems.

Works Cited

Henslin, James M. Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Fifth Ed. New York: AB Longman, 2004. Print.

McClelland, Kent. “Symbolic Interactionism.” 21 February 2000. Web. Accessed 6 April 2012.

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