Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The thesis addresses the problem of the relation between the ownership and control of mass media and the process of ideological reproduction with specific reference to the Canadian case. The instrumentalist response, which suggests that the dominant class controls the major ideological institutions and sets the parameters within which ideological discussion is confined, is contrasted with the structuralist response, which sees ideological reproduction as a process related to the social relations of production that characterize the media discourse in a social order where a particular class is hegemonic. The concrete case of Canadian mass media is examined, and it is suggested that neither position is fully adequate to account for the operation of the process here. Porter's (1965) and Clement's (1975) studies of the ownership structure are revised for 1978, and it is found that mass media ownership and control has become increasingly more highly concentrated within a few dominant complexes that are increasingly interrelated through reciprocal shareholdings, interlocking directorships, and joint publishing and broadcasting undertakings. Similar linkages between the dominant media capitalists are documented, which suggests that the dominant media capitalists can be considered homogeneous, and which in turn carries implications for the ideological diversity of media products. Their precise role in the process of media production/ideological reproduction is considered through the analysis of responses to a questionnaire forwarded to publishers, managing editors, broadcasting station managers, and news directors associated with the media outlets controlled by the dominant complexes. The results indicate that those who hold important editorial positions within the major publishing and broadcasting outlets are substantially indistinguishable from the dominant media capitalists in terms of particular ascriptive characteristics (age, sex, region of birth, ethnic origin, class origin, etc.) and that therefore these individuals can be considered class agents for the dominant media capitalists.Finally, the role of the Canadian state within the broadcasting sector is considered through a discussion of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (C.B.C.) and through the analysis of the activities of the Canadian Radio-television Telecornn1unications Commission (C.R.T.C.). It is argued that both state agencies act t9 favour the position of the private mass media and hence the position of the dominant media capitalists.It is concluded that ownership and control of the major mass media outlets in Canada is exercised by a few dominant media capitalists who are homogeneous, who recruit appropriate class representatives to the critical media positions in order to insure their own class interests, who otherwise act as latent overseers or "night watchmen" vis-a-vis their private media operations, and whose position is secured and perpetuated through the activities of the state. The significance of this structure of dominance for the process of ideological reproduction is said to ultimately require a test of the structuralist position, that is, the analysis of the social relations of mass media production in order to understand how the interests of the dominant class are preserved, and the circumstances under which their interests may be threatened. Consequently, it should be possible to integrate the two approaches in such a way as to render fully comprehensible the reproduction of the dominant ideology through the mass media.
Clarke, Debra, "The Significance of Mass Media Ownership for the Process of Ideological Reproduction: The Canadian Case" (1978). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7117.
McMaster University Library