In Marxist media analysis, media institutions are regarded as being 'locked into the power structure, and consequently as acting largely in tandem with the dominant institutions in society. The media thus reproduced the viewpoints of dominant institutions not as one among a number of alternative perspectives, but as the central and "obvious" or "natural" perspective' (Curran et al. 1982: 21).
According to adherents of Marxist political economy, in the mass media there is a tendency to avoid the unpopular and unconventional and to draw on 'values and assumptions which are most valuable and most widely legitimated' (Murdock & Golding 1977: 37, cited in Curran et al. 1982: 26).
As Curran et al. note, most researchers in the Marxist tradition in Britain (such as Stuart Hall) have approached the issue of media portrayals of violence in terms of whether such portrayals have served 'to legitimize the forces of law and order, build consent for the extension of coercive state regulation and de-legitimate outsiders and dissidents'. 'They have thus examined the impact of the mass media in situations where mediated communications are powerfully supported by other institutions such as the police, judiciary and schools... The power of the media is thus portrayed as that of renewing, amplifying and extending the existing predispositions that constitute the dominant culture, not in creating them' (Curran et al. 1982: 14; see also ibid.: 27).
Similarly, 'some Marxist commentators have contended that media portrayals of elections constitute dramatized rituals that legitimate the power structure in liberal democracies; voting is seen as an ideological practice that helps to sustain the myth of representative democracy, political equality and collective self-determination. The impact of election coverage is thus conceived in terms of reinforcing political values that are widely shared in Western democracies and are actively endorsed by the education system, the principal political organizations and the apparatus of the state' (Curran et al. 1982: 15).