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Media texts and society’s values

Media texts and society’s values

In VCE Media, the study of ‘Media texts and society’s values’ draws our attention to the relationship between media texts, values and society. You will have studied a particular discourse or social issue and how values towards this discourse are reflected in a range of media texts. Many schools choose to study film or television programs, including sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver, The Brady Bunch and The Flintstones. Many teachers also look at a range of small texts, such as print or television advertisements. Revising for ‘Media texts and society’s values’ not only involves understanding the complex relationship between values and media texts but also having a detailed understanding of the representations in the texts that you’ve studied.

Before starting your revision, make sure you print out a copy of the VCE Media Study Design. Use the key knowledge, key skills and outcome as the foundation for your revision. Remember, you can only be examined on what is in the Study Design.

Key knowledge

• the nature and form of an idea, a value, an attitude or a discourse evident in selected media texts.
• the construction of representations in media texts and how these reflect values in society
• values held in society as represented and distributed through media texts
• the relationship between dominant, oppositional and emerging values represented in media texts
• the relationship between discourses or social issues and media texts
• appropriate media language and terminology.

Key skills

• describe a social issue or discourse that is constructed, represented and distributed through media texts
• identify, compare and contrast representations in media texts
• analyse the relationships between dominant, oppositional and emerging values in society and media texts
• discuss and analyse the relationship between a discourse or issue, society’s values and media texts
• apply and use appropriate media language and terminology.


• Define important terminology. Preparing for this section of the exam requires an understanding of terms such as discourse, dominant, oppositional and emerging values. If there are any terms you don’t understand, clarify these by consulting your teacher or your textbook.

• Prepare revision notes. Your revision notes should include the outcome from the VCE Media Study Design, notes on the texts you’ve studied and information on the society that these texts were created in.

• Identify the social issue or discourse that you’ve studied. In class, you will have studied a discourse or social issue. Make sure you have a clear understanding of this and how it is represented across the texts that you’ve studied.

• Identify the values in your text. Society’s values are complex. They cannot be reduced to single words. If you want to successfully identify a social value, you will need to explain it more carefully in a way that clearly identifies values, attitudes and beliefs held during the production period. A good idea is to use the word ‘that’. For example: ‘A value reflected in the 1986 episode of Family Ties titled ‘Engine Trouble’, is the value that men and women should be equal.’ Make sure you can write about a range of values including dominant, oppositional and emerging.

• Study representations.  When examining the social values in a text, values are rarely stated explicitly. Rather, it is up to you to look closely at representations within the text and think about the way these have been shaped by the values, views and attitudes of the period in which it was produced. All media texts are constructed. It is because these representations are constructed that they often, very unintentionally, reflect the the social values of the period of production. When you’re describing the representations in your text, don’t make broad generalisations about the characters or storyline, show an understanding that these representations have been constructed. If one of your texts is a film or television program, for example, you might make reference to how camera techniques, acting, mise-en-scene, editing, lighting or sound has been used to construct a particular character and how, in turn, this reflects values of the period in which it was produced. Be prepared to compare representations within and between texts.

• Know the production context. Understand the society in which your media texts were produced. Be prepared to write confidently about what was happening in society and how this influenced the construction of the texts that you studied. Statistics, encyclopaedic entries, reference to historical events and other evidence is a great way to show that you understand the period in which your text was produced and how that might have influenced its construction.

• Answer questions. Practice answering questions on ‘Media texts and society’s’ values. With other areas of study, such as Narrative, there are countless past exams that can help you prepare for this section. Because ‘Media texts and society’s values’ is relatively new, you will need to look at the SAC your teacher gave you in class and try writing your own questions based on the study design.


• Highlight key terms. When you start answering questions, underline key phrases to ensure you understand what the question is asking you. When you read back over your response, it’s also useful to underline words and phrases related to these keywords in your own writing to ensure that you have answered the question appropriately.

• Use topic sentences. Answer questions in your opening sentence, then go on to give further detail.

• State social values clearly. Remember that values cannot be reduced to single words like ‘drugs’ or ‘family’.

• When asked to describe representations in texts, make specific reference to how representations have been constructed. Don’t make generalisations about the storyline or characters.

• Write authoritatively about the society in which your texts were produced and how this shaped the construction of representations.