The Social Dilemma is a popular Netflix documentary. It has been well received. It gained 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and the critic’s consensus is “Clear-eyed and comprehensive, The Social Dilemma presents a sobering analysis of our data-mined present.” However, you have just completed a module on social media in a course on media and communication, and one of the questions that I returned to time and again is what does this cultural text (in this instance, it is The Social Dilemma) enable us to see and what does it hide from view? Specifically, we explored how hegemony pulls people into a constantly shifting hierarchical system of representation.
Write a 7 to 10-page paper (double-spaced) in which you state how far you agree with the statement that “The Social Dilemma feels like a counter-hegemonic challenge to Big Tech, and in some ways it is, but ultimately it remains a wedded to dominant hegemonies.”
Use the following structure. Make sure that each of your headings is in bold
Identify the film and capture your reader’s interest, and clearly state your evaluation of the film and the thesis of your paper.
Media and Communication Theory
In this section map out the relevant media and communication theories and how they are relevant to the prompt in front of you. Specifically, zero in on hegemony, ideology, and discourse. Explain what is theorized by proponents of these theories. Then suggest how an understanding of the theories is relevant to understanding the prompt in front of you. What would proponents of these theories be interested in finding out?
In this section, position The Social Dilemma in the current debates about social media. Your textbook puts it like this:
The purpose of [the literature review] of a journal article is not just to summarize the debate, but to organize it and frame it. A good literature review will set out competing perspectives or clearly articulate shortcomings and limitations in the current scholarly debate. The purpose is to demonstrate how the author’s question and claim will respond to significant debates in the literature
Construct a literature review section in which you state the arguments of each of the relevant writers/producers we have encountered this quarter. Evaluate their arguments and explain how their perspectives help in thinking through the prompt.
The list below comprises the texts that we are treating as ‘the literature.’ However, feel free to make reference to literature that you have cleaned in other contexts if it is relevant.
- Class lectures
- Carah, N., & Louw, P. Eric. (2015). Media & Society: Production, content & participation. Los Angeles: Sage.
- Vaidhyanathan, S. (2018). Antisocial Media: How Facebook disconnects us and undermines democracy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Wachter-Boettcher, S. (2017). Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, biased algorithms, and other threats of toxic tech (First ed.). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.
- Hall, S., Jhally, Sut, & Media Education Foundation. (2007). Representation & the media. Northampton, Mass.]: Media Education Foundation.
Description: The Social Dilemma
In this section describe the plot structure of The Social Dilemma. Consider that documentary filmmakers make a number of decisions about how they will structure their films. What decisions did the filmmakers make in this instance? After reading this section of your paper, your reader (who is not me) should have a clear map of the story of The Social Dilemma. They should be able to picture it in their mind. Your reader should also get a clear sense of how the different cinematic elements (characterization, music, lighting, editing, etc.) work together to support the argument of the film and make the film entertaining.
Compare and contrast how information was presented in The Social Dilemma with how information was presented in The Digital Disconnect and The Wondery Podcasts: Instagram vs Tik Tok. What is likely to be the impact of differing styles of presentation on the persuasiveness of these texts?
This is the most important part of your paper. In this section respond to/answer the prompt. Be sure to make direct reference to examples that you have found in The Social Dilemma. Note that the prompt asks you to make an argument based on the degree to which you agree with the statement. Thus, you can totally agree with it, agree or disagree in part, or totally disagree with it. In this section you are making an argument for your position viz the prompt:
- is The Social Dilemma primarily counter-hegemonic? How? In what ways? Where do you see evidence of this? What is the overall effect if this counter-hegemony in relation to power in society?
- Or are there counter-hegemonic elements? How? In what ways? Where do you see evidence of this? What is the overall effect if the counter-hegemonic elements in relation to power in society?
- Or is The Social Dilemma primarily hegemonic? How? In what ways? Where do you see evidence of this? What is the overall effect if this hegemony in relation to power in society?
When referencing examples be sure to be specific. Your paper must be evidence-based. So reference examples by clearly describing the points at which the examples occur in the ‘story’ and/or using the counter at the bottom of the screen. Again, your reader should be able to picture what you are writing about in their mind’s eye. Make sure you explain how these examples support your argument.
Evaluation and Conclusion
In this section, present your evaluation of the film. Did you like/dislike the film? Give reasons for your response. Also in this section briefly summarize your argument explaining how you proved your point. Explain why such findings are important either to the scholarly community and/or to the larger society.
- Tip #1: You must make direct reference to relevant readings, films, and theories from the work you have been doing in the course
- Tip #2: Do not assume that my inclusion of the film in your course means either that I endorse it nor that I reject it. I am primarily interested in your ability to use your critical thinking skills to make a reasoned argument about the film. I have cut and pasted the IAS Learning Objective on critical and creative thinking at the bottom of the page.