COMS305-20S2 (C) Semester Two 2020

Media and Social Change

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 13 July 2020
End Date: Sunday, 8 November 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 24 July 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 25 September 2020


This course analyses the role of the media in social change and question whether media can, in fact, produce consensus within society, and if those changes are controllable by the artist/writer/producer, the audience, or the state. It does this by exploring theoretical underpinnings of societal shifts through the framework of the media as an important institution in society and in the construction of social reality. The course will invite students to further understand the role of the media in power relations by analysing such notions and processes as ideology, hegemony, representations, and media ethics.

Mass media have been dismissed, applauded and blamed as major vehicles for social control and/or social change. This paper will examine these positions and question if media can, in fact, produce consensus within society, and if those changes are controllable by the artist/writer/producer, the audience or the state. This course examines how media and media-related practices have reflected and reshaped today’s society, and how the changing social conditions are reshaping our understandings of media in the twenty-first century. This course will explore relationships between the various components of the media process and discuss specific case examples from a variety of international contexts in which mass media appear to have played an important role in shaping ideology and opinion. Alternatively, this course will examine historical cases where media exposure may have had contradictory and unexpected results. This course will explore both classical themes in the studies of media and society (e.g. ideology, hegemony, media industry, representation, race, and gender and sex) and new frontiers in media studies and social changes (e.g. big data, social media, algorithm, augmented reality mobile gaming, and digital surveillance and privacy).

Learning Outcomes

  • By the end of the course, students should be able to:
  •       Understand the relationships among relevant actors including state powers, corporate interests, NGOs, social movements, artists and independent media producers
  •       Debate issues over “cultural imperialism”
  •       Have a conceptual understanding of the economics of the media industry
  •       Consider the ideological, ethical and political implications of media production and analysis
  •       Critically examine the relationship between social inequality and media representation
  •       connect theoretical knowledge with established and emerging media practices in everyday life
  •       apply critical thinking to explore and explain the underlying social changes behind the media landscape
  •       present analyses of media texts and media practices
  •       write clear and persuasive analytical media critiques


Any 30 points at 200 level from COMS, or
any 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA.

Timetable 2020

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 11:00 - 13:00 Meremere 526 13 Jul - 23 Aug
7 Sep - 18 Oct
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 11:00 - 13:00 A9 Lecture Theatre 13 Jul - 23 Aug
7 Sep - 18 Oct

Course Coordinator

Erin Harrington


You will receive enrolment details to in class. All essays must be submitted on Turnitin.

Textbooks / Resources

No textbook is required for this course. Weekly readings will be circulated through Learn. However, the following reference books are highly recommended:  

Alison Alexander & Jarice Hanson. Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Mass Media and Society, 12th edition. McGraw-Hill, 2013.

David Croteau & William Hoynes. Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences, 5th edition. Sage Publications, 2014.

Gail Dines & Jean Humez. Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Critical Reader, 4th edition. Sage Publications, 2014.

John V. Pavlik & Shawn Mclntosh. Converging Media: A New Introduction to Mass Communication, 4th edition. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Pradip Ninan Thomas & Elske van de Fliert. Interrogating the Theory and Practice of Communication for Social Change: The Basis for a Renewal. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,553.00

International fee $6,750.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences.

All COMS305 Occurrences

  • COMS305-20S2 (C) Semester Two 2020