IntroductionThe Birmingham school of thought came about in the 1960smajorly in response to the social movements that sprung up at the time. Theprimary focus of the school of thought was on the issues of gender, ethnicity,political ideology, race and how these were represented in the media and aswell in cultural texts (Juacalla, 2014).
The school of thought is credited withpioneering in the study of the impact of radio, television, movies andnewspapers on the audience. The focus of the study was also on the diverse waysin which individuals interpreted the media messages and the different reactionsthat were aroused in the audience. The school of thought has been noted to haveseveral limitations nonetheless and these are discussed in the paper. Focus on PoliticsA key criticism thathas been leveled on the Birmingham school of thought is the fact that it hasbeen viewed as being very political and also focused on issues of resistancemovements, oppositional reactions among the working classes and even among theyouth (Juacalla, 2014). The school of thought is seen as being focused onissues of social change among the various subcultures within the society suchas among the youth and the working class as well.
The study was focused on howsome sections of the society would resist the dominant cultural forms in termsof dress or otherwise and instead attempt to come up with their own uniqueidentities. This, according to the theory then sees several subcultures createdwithin the society that have identities that do not conform to the mainstreamstandards. The theory is therefore highly focused on distinctions between whatis considered the dominant point of view and the oppositional reactions thatmay arise. Populist in natureThe Birmingham school of thought has been focused largely onthe media culture products and the mainstream or what is popular within thesociety. This is a significant limitation of the study given that it hasignored the several developments that have occurred leading up to thecontemporary media culture as it is today. In this way, the theory has ignoredwhat is of most value to people, otherwise referred to as high culture in favorof what is popular regardless of whether the same is of value within theculture or not.
More important, it disconnects cultural studies from attemptsto develop oppositional forms of culture of the sort associated with the moderntheories such as those focused on expressionism for instance. Emphasis on the AudienceA significant shortcoming of this theory is that it is highlyconcentrated on the audience in terms of their reception of messages and othersubsequent reactions. This has led to the theory being criticized as creating asort of fetishismof the audience in which the audience is left to determine the meanings ofvarious cultural texts they receive.
This in effect means the audiences are notallowed to think outside of what they receive from the media and solely focuson the same, denying them an opportunity to critique media messages (Juacalla,2014).