Structure and agency theoretical concept to analyze media

Structure and agency theoretical concept to analyze media and culture

Structure refers to the recurrent arrangements following a pattern that influence or limit choices as well as available opportunities. Agency is the individual’s capacity to independently act and make free choices. Thus, structure and agency is a socialization issue that determines whether people are free agents dictated by the social structure. Agents include people choosing certain media. People choice of media is purposeful and occurs at any time. It embeds in daily routines and has recursive quality. All people have adequate knowledge of media environment they operate in and give a rational account of actions they perform. Agents remain complicit towards unintentional consequences not known to them (Buckingham & Green, 2008).

Structure and agency in the media

Structure and agency responds to three areas of social relations and attempts to answer various questions such as

The relationship between institutions: How non-media social structures including the government and economy affect media industry and how the media industry influences non-media social structures?

Relationships within an institution: How the media structure industry affects media personnel and the indirect products in the media industry. How much do the media personnel influence media products (indirect media industry?

The relationship between an institution and the public: How does the mass media influence media message readers? How do they interpret and use media messages?

Media environment Structures

People make choices of certain media in environments with high technology and social structure. In most parts of the country, the government provides required infrastructures to enact their choice of media. The resources provided include media services, materials, and hardware that deliver them. The institutions providing media have personal motives for managing consumption in the ends. They cater to preferences of the audience and exploit worse consequences. The media structures appear as hard constraints to personal actions but become malleable over time (Webster, 2009).

Structure duality

The choice of media comes from the interaction between structures and agents. The iterative process reshapes and perpetuates structural environmental features. The media duality aggravates individual actions. Aggregation lens helps institutions understand and manage consumption. Agents depend on different forms of aggregation constituting to various structures that guide making choices in the non-linear environments (Webster, 2009).

The relationship between the media and other social institutions

Institutions without controlling media personnel set economic and legal limits where the media operates. The media has an agency that acts on its own and influence other institutions. Example, a totaling regime exerts extreme constraints on media and press in the society. The agency has little room for mainstream media, although on some occasions the underground media challenges the status quo. However, the media is free from many government constraints in a democratic society thus having significant agency. The media in democratic society exert constraining influence above other institutions (Croteau & Wiliam, 2013). Examination of ways in which social structures external to media affect the industry along with how media affects social structures is a good analysis. The thought of media freedom receives suffocation from fear of losing jobs, self-censorship, political influence, among others. Journalism is affected by the political dictation of strongmen, security threats, poor and limited markets.

The journalists receive low wages in companies they do not know the owners. There is no proper information on finance, and interests gained. The media faces the greatest threat of lacking full information to broadcast. The media members do not have the ability to seek and receive information on important issues from the public. The government fails to support the media. Instead, they filter, block, and close their websites with an aim of suppressing the media and internet freedom. As a result, most people do not enjoy their rights to access information. The media workers lack responsible owners who will fight against their hatred. They are instead government servants and lack journalist freedom. The journalist receives daily attacks such as hate speech from politicians. Other Democrats support independent journalists and independent media. The media cannot defend themselves against business elites and political attacks, because of bad laws and dependent judiciary (Croteau & Wiliam, 2013). There are existing economic problems and lack of enough knowledge for the young journalists. The poor societies do not have democracy leaving the media without defense to pressure. Self-censorship lives within journalists obstruct media freedom because the judiciary functions in an unfair manner. Many journalists take self-censorship as their excuse for inaction

The relationship within the media industry

The media serves politics and today’s businesses and fails to satisfy the needs of the public. There is a threat to public values, and media clienteles is now the norm. Various journalists suffer from endangering attempts while dozens are jailed. Example Turkey is dangerous for journalism. The freedom of expression is threatened since people do not freely accept to express themselves and give their opinions on various topics. They fear the public might misunderstand and condemn them publicly (Croteau &Wiliam, 2013).

Self-censorship affects authors with free minds. All journalists report according to desires of the public fearing offense. Bosnia and Herzegovina have limited freedom of expression, although less threat is experienced. A corrupt political system puts the media under multiple pressure because of insufficiently developed democracy. The media lacks professionalism and ethics because they face daily pressures from the government, powerful people, and politicians (Easton & Papacharissi, 2010). Lack of money and social pressure, and ethics is a great obstacle to freedom of the media. In sociology language, structural considerations affect individual agency of media personnel (Media center, 2016). The collective agency of those working in media has the potential of altering structures constraining individual media professionals.

The relationship between the media and the public

There is an established social relationship as media delivers messages to readers. The major interest is the interaction of readers with media products and technology. The media assumes a one-way relationship with listeners and viewers to determine their thoughts and behavior. Media users create own content, and, manipulate existing ones as they interact through many forms of media. It is possible for media consumers to interpret words from other people as they speak face-to-face because the speaker is present. The conversation constructs interactively. Facial expressions convey personal reactions. Viewers and listeners comment on various statements affecting the course of conversation. The interaction between the media and speakers promote mutual understanding of messages communicated. The mass media messages conveyed do not allow intimate interaction between sender and the receiver because it is a personal communication (Croteau & Wiliam, 2013). Comedians on stage are not required to explain certain jokes, the viewers have to get it or miss it.

It is impossible to ask for clarification from television presenters but relies on other sources of media to make sense of messages passed to us. The audiences have relevant resources available such as information and knowledge from personal experiences, formal education, and other products of media. The social structure shapes the people’s interpretive structure such as skills in viewing, reading, and listening as learned in class and other educational forums. People gather collective resources and experiences shaped by social factors. People receive great influence from one thousand hours spent on media. Readers are prone to media content and technology. The relationship between agency and structure illuminates levels of media influence without fixed meanings (Media center, 2016).

Linear system

Linear system characterizes electronic media from the time broadcasting began, television network followed and streaming of programs by broadcasters. A non-linear system creates discrete available contents to individuals as requested. Non-linear delivery systems include on-demand video, websites, DVRs, and internet downloads (Webster, 2009).

Structure considers programs options, viewer availability, and awareness of viewer.

Linear media

Linear media accounts for more than 70% Americans using cable, satellite television, broadcast, and satellite radio services. The channels act as the building blocks of the linear environment. The media environment offers diverse content that correlates with available channels. The structure of environment has a powerful effect on the choice of programs. Linear media faces constraints on the availability of channels because most households do not reach available ones. Although there are more than 300 available national networks, only a handful are available in the universe.

There is no relationship between houses receiving varied channels and intensity of using the channel (Webster, 2009). Example, channel HBO is available to one-third homes while those viewing it spend most of their time watching it as one of their major broadcasting networks.

Most people not subscribed to channel HBO show they lack interest because more than 50% watch its programming. Those watching cable channel are among the top 50 cable networks, excluding the broadcast networks, remain unavailable to third households owning a television. Changes in the availability of a certain channel over time have intense effects on news consumption. There is the polarization of news consumption due to the proliferation of cable channels, which comes as an alternative to viewers watching television broadcasts (Avens, Amanda, & Serra, 2009). Thus, the choice of media happens within what each person accesses at one time. Linear media has a nature of running many streams at a time forcing people to choose one channel. The idea of multi-tasking assumes that people have the ability to consume many items at a time, which is not true. VCRs appeared troublesome to the effect, DVRs, on the other hand, eases the process of shifting although they introduce other biases (Webster, 2009). Linear stream content privilege various programs over others. Most audiences remain tuned to one succeeding programs in great numbers. The flow of audience demonstrates duality visible through aggregation.

Television programmers constantly monitor the ratings of audiences marking that lead-in programs offer the opportunity to entice viewers. Most people express preferences within available structures, thus reproduce, and alter that system. The actions of agents direct and constrain the programmed structure thus altering its design. People have an uncoordinated activity, which leads to many consequences found in institutions and structure the environment.

The pattern of audience availability appears habitual because the use of media intertwines with daily rhythms. The result is a predictable consumption pattern (Webster, 2009). Many people get used to listening to the radio as they commute to their workplaces and watch televisions after returning home. Thus, the media industries know what groups of people avail themselves to listen and watch their broadcasts. The owners work their best to offer materials targeting the available population at certain times. Media industries consider drive time and prime time to finance their competitions when the prizes seem large. Other people may not be available when the particular song, news broadcast and various show avail themselves. The choice of people depends on the choice of medium reflecting daily routine structure (Media center, 2016). The people consider specific options of content as they exercise their preferences. In linear media environment, the factors fuse with random behavior with respect to psychological determinants including the availability of audience.

Non-linear media

The structures used in non-linear media give way to similar delivery are possible to retrieve content items from libraries according to people’s preferences. The architectural influence is not apparent to the users although institutional interest drives it. There is a wide range of media materials to choose from because new information is growing at a rate of 30% yearly. In 2002, more than 100 million hours produced new broadcast programming in the world. More than 70 million blogs and other types of media have digital created and hard drive storage (Ahearn, 2008). More forms of media accumulate in accessible forms using broadband distribution systems. Media supply is plenty without constraints of money and time. It costs money to subscribe to cable, satellite, internet service providers, and buy, and rent DVDs, video games and download music and movies.

The average Americans spend more than $800 each year on media, consumer electronics, and other expenditures. The expenses vary widely in the population because all people have twenty-four hours daily. The search process in non-near media is familiar because of available printed guides directing users how to find television programs over a long time (Webster, 2009). There is the emergence of digital cable and satellite systems that guide usage of electronic devices and allow users to scroll through many channel options.

There are search engines powerful enough to sort large content inventories. The engines report lists of responses using varying search algorithms. Google search engine sorts various websites and possesses requisite search terms using the number and according to the importance of inbound links. The users require navigating the list given to determine the importance of each item. There are recommendation systems that alert users to what they were not searching. They include promotions, advertisements, and outbound links on various websites. The social networking software allows people to indicate their preferences through bookmarking, rating, tagging media content (Media center, 2016). The powerful networking sites make use of collaborative filtering and other software that sort media databases and purchase of products. The users match their profiles with other consumers making similar purchases. site is best at matching people who made similar purchases of books. The technique tempts readers to buy extra books with new titles as they attract their attention.

The search and recommendation systems have similarities such as awareness of media content, which establishes boundaries of choices made. Most people do not choose what they do not know about. Various systems aggregate people’s preference demonstrated in their declarations. The various recommendation has social influence, whereby the media has the ability to manipulate these important dimensions through manufacturing sets of options guiding choices of media (Media center, 2016). The agents have free will in choosing what they desire and work out their preferences using systems that find content. Structure duality applies greatly because of reproduction of actions and reconstitution of structures shaping subsequent consumption.

In conclusion, the government can control the insufficient freedom of expression in the media, owners, and editors. The government has the power to finance the media and control direct and indirect pressures on it. It has power over the ruling party and the judiciary and can issue policies that will positively affect the media democracy.


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Avens, T., Amanda, D., Serra, T. (2009).Critical Media Industry Studies; A Research Approach. Communication, Culture &Critique, 1-20.

Buckingham, D., &Green, J. (2008). Gotta Catch Em All: Structure, Agency, And Pedagogy in Children’s Media Culture. Media Culture and Society, 1-21.

Croteau, D., &Wiliam.H. (2013). Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences 5th Edition. Sage Publications.

Easton, E., &Papacharissi, Z. (2010). In The Habitus of the New Structure, Agency, and the Social Media Habitus. Habitus, 1-25.

Media Center. (2016). Political Pressures, Economic Insecurity Biggest Threats to Media Freedom in Balkans. Mediacentar. Retrieved From Http://Www.Media.Ba/En/Magazin- Novinarstvo/Political-Pressures-Economic-Insecurity-Biggest-Threats-Media-Freedoms- BalkansWebster, J. (2009). The Role of Structure in Media Choice. Chapter 13, 1-13