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Sociology (SOCI) 378

Media Construction of Social Movements and Issues (Revision 1)

SOCI 378 course cover

Revision 1 closed, replaced by current version.

Delivery Mode:Individualized study with a video component. Online-enhanced.


Area of Study:Social Science

Prerequisite:Professor approval required. It is strongly recommended that students have a previous course in sociological theory.

Precluded Course:SOCI 378 is a cross-listed course—available in two disciplines—with CMNS 385. SOCI 378 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit in CMNS 385.

Centre:Centre for Global and Social Analysis

SOCI 378 is not available for challenge.

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SOCI 378 students investigate the role of media in the shaping and/or making of social issues. The course examines a range of theories about media effects, and how media constructions, ideological positions, and media struggles inform the public’s conception of a particular social issue. In part, the course deals with the ways in which organizations, institutions, and interest groups attempt to gain access to the media and how these attempts shape the entire debate.


Upon completion of SOCI 378 students should be able to achieve the following course learning objectives:

Discuss the significance of mass media in contemporary democratic society.

Identify the key role that media play in shaping and organizing public discourse.

Apply a critical sociological imagination to assessing the role of mass media in our society.

Discuss the role of propaganda in a democratic society.

Explain what is meant by "media power" and the relationship of this term to issues of ownership and control.

Explain why the media cover social movements the way they do, and why social movements attempt to use the media.


Part I: Introduction to the Study of Activism, Media Power, and Communication in a Democratic Society

Unit 1: What is the Critical Analysis of Mass Media?

Unit 2: The Critical Sociological Imagination and Social Analysis

Unit 3: Social Movements and Democracy

Unit 4: Social Movements and Democratic Communication

Unit 5: Issues of Ownership and Control

Unit 6: Propaganda and Consent

Part II: Theories of Mass Media

Unit 7: Effects Research I: Administrative Theories of Media in Society

Unit 8: Effects Research II: Functionalist Theory

Unit 9: The Emergence of a Critical Alternative: European Theory

Unit 10: A Critique of Media Technology: Grant, Innis, McLuhan, Menzies, and the Canadian Tradition

Unit 11: Class Analysis I: Cultural Studies and Discourse Analysis

Unit 12: Class Analysis II: Political Economy of Mass Communication

Unit 13: Gender: Feminist Approaches to Mass Media

Part III: Mass Media Construction of Social Issues

Unit 14: The Environmental Movement: Competing Media Strategies

Unit 15: Mass Media and the Labour Movement: A Hegemonic Discourse?

Unit 16: Media and Racial/Ethnic Equity Movements

Unit 17: Mass Media and the Struggle for Sexual Equality

Unit 18: Media and Gay/Lesbian Equity Movements

Unit 19: Mass Media, War, and the Peace Movement


To receive credit for SOCI 378, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least "D" (50 percent), a grade of at least 60 percent on the final assignment, and 60 percent on the mid-term, take-home exam. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assignment 1 Mid-term Exam Assignment 2 Assignment 3 Total
20% 30% 25% 25% 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Grenier, Marc. 1992. Critical Studies in Canadian Mass Media. Toronto: Butterworths.

Hackett, Robert. 1991. News and Dissent: The Press and the Politics of Peace in Canada. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing.

Other Material

Other course materials include a study guide, a student manual, and a collection of readings.

Special Course Feature

Students registered in this course may take part in computer conferencing.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, April 21, 2005.

Last updated by SAS  06/02/2015 08:32:08