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Media Concentration

One of the most pervasive social institutions in our society, the mass media encompass information outlets ranging from printed leaflets to online virtual worlds. Perhaps more than any other institution, they exemplify our post- modern society. In today’s postmodern world, one of the more noticeable changes is the trend toward control of the media by fewer and fewer corporations. Functionalists see media concentration or the consolidation of any business as a step toward greater economic efficiency. In their view, consolidation reduces the cost of operations, freeing capital for the development of new creative outlets. Furthermore, they believe that global trade in the media facilitates the free exchange of intellectual property, which is often hampered by arbitrary local restrictions. Conflict theorists believe that media concentration stifles opportunities for minority ownership. Manuel Castells has observed, communicative power can shape human behavior. As such, it lies at the heart of the social structure. Interactionists see a change in the way people get their news, although not in their interest in it. Because savvy media users can seek out the media they consume, interactionists suggest that warnings about media concentration may be overdone. The Internet is the one significant exception to the trend toward media concentration, allowing millions of people to produce their own media content.