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Communications and Media.

Academic level: Undergraduate Style: MLA Language: English (U.S.) The topics that you can pursue for your paper are outlined following. Select one and write your term paper about this topic. The topics give you a framework for starting your research. So examine them and create an outline of how you might map out the details for your thesis statement, opinions or arguments, and supporting details and conclusion. 1.The Clever Hans story tells us, among other things, that a good deal of interpersonal communication takes place below the threshold of conscious awareness. Write an essay that explores the nature of this form of subtle communication, paying particular attention to the manner in which information is shared between people across all of our senses. A very good (and interesting) starting point is Diane Ackermans book, A Natural History of the Senses. You will also find important research material in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior and in Erving Goffmans famous book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, as well as in works by the anthropologist Edward T. Hall. 2.Communication technologies are everywhere. From cellphones to computers to flat-screen televisions, we are surrounded by an enormous range of media devices, each vying for our attention and making demands upon our time. This has led some commentators to suggest that the social world is changing in important ways, and not for the better. For example, British writer Paul Connerton has said that ?informational overload is one of the best devices for forgetting, the function of the news media being not to produce, nor even to consume, but rather to discard, to consign recent historical experience to oblivion as rapidly as possible¬Ě (How Modernity Forgets, p. 84). Write an essay that explores the proposition that modern forms of communication are having a negative influence on contemporary society. Do you agree with Connerton that too much information produces forgetfulness? Do you think that people are becoming less attentive because of the sheer numbers of new communication devices on the market? What are some of the opposing arguments to this position? 3.At the start of the twentieth century many people were worried that movies were going to make young people into criminals, and various commissions were established to investigate the link between films and juvenile delinquency. In more modern times similar concerns have been raised. Elvis Presleys hips were not shown when he first appeared on network television in the United States out of fear that his dancing was too provocative. Many pop singers have had their lyrics censored because of worries that their language was too explicit. Rap music is just one of the many forms of the popular arts to have been regarded as a danger to young ears and minds. It is interesting to note that Plato expressed a similar worry in the fifth century BCE about the power of public speakers to influence the young and na??ve. And the novelist Anthony Trollope wrote back in the Victorian era that certain novels should be kept out of the hands of young women to protect them from inappropriate ideas. In other words, there seems to be a tendency to blame the latest form of communication technology for its corrupting influence. Why do you think this is the case? Can you think of a contemporary example where a modern form of communication (radio, television, the Internet, email) is being blamed for a particular social problem? Explore this subject in depth, paying particular attention to the social history of such tendencies in your essay. 4.In many works on popular culture a distinction is made between what is called high and low culture. High culture is used to refer to certain kinds of communication: opera, symphonic music, novels, abstract art. High culture is associated with members of the high or elite classes. Low culture has historically been seen as the culture and the art of the common people, the working classes. Hence their tastes, it is said, are more general than those of the elite classes. Working class people prefer television to film, or comic books to novels. But there is a good deal wrong with this model. For one thing, it suggests that some kinds of pleasures?some forms of art and cultural activities?are better than others, and that these particular pastimes are thus superior on moral grounds. In other words, there would seem to be a good deal of politics involved in the way that Western societies have traditionally evaluated the artistic tastes and cultural preferences of its citizens. A good essay would explore these distinctions in detail by focusing on the history of how the division between high and low culture arose in the first place. 5.Robert Cialdinis work on compliance professionals suggests an interesting way of approaching the nature of social influence. How are we influenced, and what sorts of mechanisms are employed in shaping our behaviour? Do you think Cialdini has left out an important way people might be influenced? Or do you think that modern communication technologies make possible certain modes of influence of which Cialdini is unaware? 6.Green marketing is a new addition to the marketers arsenal, but some writers have raised questions about the overall authenticity of certain claims for environmental concern as these are made by product manufacturers. What do you think? Do you think it is appropriate to be skeptical about claims for environmental safety? Are manufacturers more interested in profit than the planet?

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