The main Function(s) of contemporary media: A Functionalist approach

So last week I took a look at the common definitions of  Mass media and referred to the seven paradigms of media analysis. The paradigm I focused on was the second listed and focused on a more devious side of Mass media. The subconscious influencing and implanting of certain ideologies. Today this blog article will be considering the functions of media, more specifically McQuail’s typology of Function under the Functionalist approach.

What exactly is Functionalism?

As (UKEssays, 2015) states: Functionalism refers to a system, naturally a belief in function over form and with regard to media operates as a whole system in society to create an equilibrium in social systems. Media as a powerful socialisation instrument should contribute towards integration, harmony and cohesion through information, entertainment and education.

As referred to earlier, this blog will discuss the functions of media. When I was asked what they were in class I immediately without thought stated to inform and entertain. A correct answer if I was studying a Degree in a field of education and not contemporary media. The fact is these two functions are correct but must be considered as the main functions of media and not the only two, for there are several. These functions were introduced to me as McQuails typology of functions.

McQuails typology of media functions consists of no less than five functions of media. The first is to inform. As stated in (UKEssays, 2015) media provides information about social and political events and conditions of the globe. Thus, spreading innovations and progress in technology as to keep the world up to par. If this was disrupted some countries will be stranded in a state that is outdated and even disastrous. An example is North Korea as stated in (Worden, 2008).

The second Function of media is correlation. defines correlation as a mutual relation of two or more things. Thus, with regard to media its function is to explain, interpret and comment on the meaning of events and provide support for established authority and norms also stated in (UKEssays, 2015). Thus correlating the way information is given with an ideology. It determines the way we see society by the way the information is given.

Third is the function of Continuity. With this said the function expresses the dominant culture and developments there in and maintains a commonality in the values of contemporary society. An example is the kids programs that teach good morals (UKEssays, 2015). Yet this can go both ways. A reference to contemporary artists who teenagers look up to, that send out the wrong message. Maybe not intentionally but yet it is clearly suggested. E.g Charli XCX, Break the Rules.

The next function is quite evident in every media broadcast we as society see. To Entertain! Since we are all aware of it, there is no need to delve in deeper into this specific function. Every broadcast or production must be Entertaining in some way to us for if it wasn’t we would not view it with such eagerness.

The last function that I will briefly discuss before I sum up this blog article is that of Mobilisation. This helps to provide an objective outlook on social, political or economic states. This goes hand in hand with continuity.

With all of the above mentioned and briefly discussed it is evident that through the functionalist approach the media has five pertinent roles in contemporary society. These roles are defined by Dennis Mcquail in his theory: Typology of function. These roles contribute to the forming of ideologies within our society. Therefore, when asked what is the functions of media in contemporary society consider this…even though one won’t consider being influenced by a television program or a broadcast on the news you still feel obligated to accept it as the truth. Thus, not only did the broadcast entertain and inform you but mobilised and gave correlation to what was shown or represented with an ideology that was meant to be implemented into one’s subconscious mind.

Reference List

UK Essays. November 2013. The Role And Functions Of Media Media Essay. [online]. Available from: [Accessed 13 August 2017].

Worden, R. L. 2008. Library Of Congress. Federal Research Division.  North Korea: a country study. Washington, DC: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress Available: [13 August 2017]

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