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Using Theory in A Level Media Studies

abateman | Tuesday January 05, 2016

Categories: A Level, AQA A Level, AQA A2, Edexcel A Level, Edexcel A2, OCR A Level, OCR A2, Eduqas (WJEC) A Level, WJEC A2, WJEC A2 Media Studies, Key Concepts, Genre, Ideology, Media Language, Representation & Stereotyping, Theory, Application of Theory, Feminist Theory, Gender Theory, Postcolonial Theory, Poststructuralist Theory, Race Theory, Representation Theory, Structuralist Theory

There is a need in Media Studies, like all social sciences and critical subjects, to engage with theory and students should be encouraged to do so in their work. Using a theory is an effective way of a student demonstrating their understanding of the topic under discussion, adding weight to their arguments and undeniably lending gravitas to their answer. A key requirement in a successful Media Studies response is also to provide evidence of the validity of the arguments being made and this too is something that a theory can supply if used appropriately. Examination mark schemes across all the awarding bodies reward judicious use of theory in work but using theory is all too often seen by many students as the way to answer a question or the tool required to approach an analysis and in these subjects this is seldom, if ever, fully the case. In fact, learning a theory and simply adding it to a response will only ever demonstrate knowledge and, assuming the theory is relevant in the first place, some marks will be gained. Demonstrating understanding is what is key to access the higher grade boundaries and this only comes by using the relevant theory to illustrate the point being made.

In addition to using specific theories, there is also often the need to apply a theoretical perspective or tradition such as Marxism, Structuralism, Postmodernism or Feminism to an answer. This is especially the case at A Level and although there is a link between using a theory in a response and approaching an answer from a theoretical perspective it is not quite the same thing. Using a theoretical perspective means approaching the work with a collection of ideas (which is what an ideology is) firmly in mind. These ideologies may offer plenty of theories but students make their points from the position of those who hold those perspectives. Naturally, many of these theoretical perspectives often conflict with each other and consensus is usually the...

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