Antonio Gramsci was one of the first to coin the term ‘cultural hegemony’. Hegemony means one social group having dominance over another, or several others. There are two ways in which hegemony is implemented and maintained: physically, via laws and the armed forces, keeping the general public in check; and mentally, via media, setting the agenda of political discourse and shaping people’s mindsets.
In Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Noam Chomsky describes how people are made to believe that they are making choices when they’re actually reproducing the things that they hear and read in the media. Using these theories, we can analyse modern society’s class structure and how it’s maintained. In capitalist societies, money talks. Media outlets need money to survive, and will thus sell advertising space to companies who want to advertise their products to the publication’s readership/target audience. This has an effect on the content of the publication: they publish content which promotes the ideas of the people who fund the publication. As most popular magazines and newspapers are owned by extremely wealthy businessmen, they are more likely to promote capitalist ideas.
Rupert Murdoch owns The Sun, which is the best-selling newspaper in the UK. He has acquired an empire of news organisations and therefore promotes right wing views, not only in terms of promoting fiscally conservative politics, but socially traditional and anti-immigration views. Murdoch ensures that The Sun take this stance on political issues because he knows that stirring up people’s concerns about immigration, making them feel as though they’re being invaded, sells papers. This is how his news organisation manufactures consent. They have a huge influence on people’s mindsets and with that power, Rupert Murdoch protects his own interests.
Regarding my magazine in the Pitch, Produce, Publish module, our magazine is not funded, but this lack of funding also has an effect on the political view we will convey. It is a football magazine, written from the perspective of match-going fans, for match-going fans to read. In our articles, we look to protect the interests of the working class football fan, as football is traditionally a working class sport. For example, we have written about the death of street football, the gentrification of football, ticket prices and how these topics are affecting the match day experience for working class fans. If we were a professional magazine with large funding, we may be pressured to change the tone of our perspective on these issues, in order to ensure that we keep the advertising money coming in.
It’s difficult for a magazine to be completely free of ideology. Everyone has a political ideology, which is a result of their education, their family’s values, their socio-economic status and the community in which they grew up. Politics is intertwined into everything. Fashion magazines can be more focussed on high end fashion, or high street fashion. This is of course linked to politics, just as music magazines can be targeted at different social groups. A magazine which focusses on Grime music will have different ideological values to one which focusses on classical music.