To understand the relationship between media and power there are many questions that should be asked and answered[1]. The correlation between media and power is extremely complex and immensely vast, that people have written thousands of books and articles trying to understand and explain it. Instead of making general claims about how media works to obscure and maintain power relations, this essay will look at how mass media is being used today to control and influence the public while obscure the fact that they’re doing so, thus maintaining their dominance, in context of the Arab Springs that have been going on for the past few years[2][3].

Unlike in the United States, were private international conglomerates own the majority of mass media, mass media in the Arab World is owned and controlled by national-state governments[4][5][6]. So if the citizens want to know what is going on in their country, they could read about it in the government owned newspaper or watch it on the government owned television channels. And for a long time these governments were able to preserve their power by using mass media to create this illusion that everything is normal. People living inside these countries didn’t know what was going on outside this bubble and the people outside didn’t know what was going on inside.

However in the age Internet and social media, the public had something that they didn’t have before, which is their own uncensored form of media. This was the hole in the bubble. This allowed them to communicate freely and gave them bigger access to the outside world; however this also allowed the outside world into the bubble and into the lives of the public. And with the help of social media they were able to fight back governments and inform the western of world of the issues they’re facing.

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The United States was cautious and contradictory in their approach to the Arab Spring. They acted as if they’ve come to ‘save the day’, but only to better their hegemonic interest. The Western media talked about the human rights that were being violated, while the US government had to decide between keeping their relationship with Saudi Arabia or get involved and take over the oil rich countries. So even though the US government doesn’t own the Western media, it still has some influence on what and what not to broadcast, and use it to send messages to the world and control the public and create this image.

And if we move away from politics and look at the culture and how it is changing due to media. The public in the Arab are able to access to Western media. And we can see how their views towards certain topics have gradually changed, and evolving towards a similar culture to western world. One example is the increase in tolerance of homosexuality in the Arab world, which is likely due to increase of Western media dominance in these countries. Moreover, looking at the bigger picture, we see that by attempting to control the media, these conglomerates are also affecting the economy of these countries, with their main aims are increasing profits and growing bigger. The emerging global media system also has significant cultural and political implications, specifically with regard to political democracy, imperialism, and the nature of socialist resistance in the coming years.

The problems of having powerful conglomerates and/or governments dominate the journalism and media in a society, which is the oxygen necessary for self-government to be viable, will be controlled by those who benefit by existing inequality and the preservation of the status quo. Thus the public just broke out of the bubble only to realize that they are in a bigger bubble. Which just makes you question everything you believed. However it can be argued that global conglomerates can at times have a progressive impact on culture, especially when they enter nations that had been tightly controlled by corrupt crony media systems (as in much of Latin America) or nations that had significant state censorship over media.

Whether it is apparent as censorship by governments or more obscure as television shows by global conglomerates, media is used to obscure and maintain power structures. This doesn’t mean that all media has hidden agenda, but that mass media can and is being used for political and economic agenda whether you realize it or not. Furthermore it is difficult to objectively analyze how media works, when we play part of it. Thus we might only see the affects of media on us, after a long period of time.

References:

[1] Questions include but not limited to: What is media? Who control the media? Who has the power? What do we see as power? Who decides what is power? What kind of power is the most important/powerful?

[2] Definition of media and how this essay will only look at mass media

[3] Arab Spring: is the term used to describe the revolutionary demonstrations, protests, and civil wars that ignited in the Arab world which began on December 2010 and still go on till this day.

[4] Media ownership in the US: http://monthlyreview.org/2001/03/01/global-media-neoliberalism-and-imperialism

[5] Media ownership in the Arab World: http://www.kas.de/wf/en/33.31742/

[6] Media ownership in the Arab World: http://www.arabadvisors.com/Pressers/presser-110111.htm

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