The cultural effects model is a Marxist model audience effects, usually associated with neo-marxism and the Glasgow University Media Group.
The media and the dominant ideology
According to the cultural effects model, the media contains ideological messages that reflect the values of media owners and professionals who expect audiences to agree with their preferred readings of events.
Points of view which are oppositional media owners and middle class journalists’ world views are generally kept out of the mainstream media through processes such as agenda setting and gatekeeping.
Ideological control through gradual exposure
Audiences are continually exposed to the dominant ideology and this has a gradual ‘drip-drip’ effect and over time audiences come to share the views of the rich and powerful. They also come to criticise those who have been demonised by the ideological framing of the elite: such as immigrants and those on benefits.
The cultural effects model recognises that audiences are active and that they interpret media content in diverse ways, but they do argue that interpretations are narrow due to long term ideological framing of media content.
Criticisms of the cultural effects model
Methodologically it is difficult to test any theory on long term media effects. It is almost impossible to isolate the independent effect that long term exposure to media content has over several years.
It seems increasingly unlikely that homogenous content has homogenous effects in the postmodern age of new media.