FOUR ERAS OF MASS COMMUNICATION THEORY

Technophiles have been hailing convergence, the erasure of distinctions among media, ever since the introduction of the personal computer in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates heralded its full arrival in 2004 at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Convergence, he told his listeners, doesn’t happen until you have everything in a digital form that the consumer can easily use on all the different devices. So, if we look at the three types of media of greatest importance—we look at photos, we look at music and we look at video—the move toward giving people digital flexibility on them is pretty incredible on every one of them. It’s been discussed for a long, long time. And now, it’s really happening. (quoted in Cooper, 2004, p. 1) In fact, it’s happening today in ways that Gates might not have anticipated those many long years ago (in Internet time). We […]

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Thinking About Theory

WHAT’S YOUR QUESTION? WHAT’S YOUR APPROACH? Social networking site Facebook hit the Internet in 2003. Five years later it had 100 million users; by mid-2010 it had half-a-billion members networking in 40 languages (Kang, 2010). Half the teenagers using Facebook check in at least once a day, but the greatest growth in members has been among adults aged 35 to 54. These grown-ups spend nearly four hours a day on Facebook, more than any other age group (Orenstein, 2009). What questions do these few facts raise for you? One obvious question is, “Who are these social networkers?” Does the growth in the number of “older” social networkers surprise you? Why or why not? What about the amount of time they spend networking? What about networkers’ gender? Does that play a factor? Where do they access these sites? Why would middle-aged people be such heavy users of a new technology almost […]

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MASS COMMUNICATION THEORY-W. James Potter

“The scholarship about the mass media has grown so large and become so fragmented,” argues W. James Potter, “that it is very difficult for scholars to understand, much less appreciate, the incredible array of great ideas and findings that have been produced” (2009, p. xiv). You’ll see these “great ideas and findings” throughout this text and discover how in their harmony and dissonance they have shaped the discipline’s thinking. For now, though, let’s take this example, the impact of video violence, and see how different social scientists might approach it.Do you believe that watching televised or videogame violence can cause kids to act more aggressively? Surely this must be an easier thing to demonstrate than the existence of an ever-expanding universe. This link has been theorized ever since the first silent-movie hero slugged the first silent-movie villain. What is the most useful way to study the complex relationship between this specific […]

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FLEXIBLE SOCIAL SCIENCE

Now that you’ve been introduced to the four broad categories of social scientific theory, you might have guessed another reason that those who study the social world often don’t get the respect accorded their physical science colleagues. Sociologist Kenneth Bailey wrote, “To this day you will find within social science both those who think of themselves as scientists in the strictest sense of the word and those with a more subjective approach to the study of society, who see themselves more as humanists than as scientists” (1982, p. 5). In other words, and as you’ve just seen, not all who call themselves social scientists adhere to the same standards for conducting research or accepting evidence. But complicating matters even more is the fact that social science researchers and theorists often blend (or mix and match) categories as they do their work (Benoit and Holbert, 2008). To some observers, especially committed postpositivists, this seems unsystematic. It also generates disagreement among social scientists, not […]

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EVALUATING THEORY

EVALUATING THEORY French philosopher André Gide wrote, “No theory is good unless it permits, not rest, but the greatest work. No theory is good except on condition that one uses it to go on beyond” (quoted in Andrews, Biggs, and Seidel, 1996, p. 66). In other words, good theory pushes, advances, improves the social world. There are some specific ways, however, to judge the value of the many theories we will study in this book. When evaluating postpositivist theory, we need to ask these questions: 1. How well does it explain the event, behavior, or relationship of interest? 2. How well does it predict future events, behaviors, or relationships? 3. How testable is it? In other words, is it specific enough in its assertions that it can be systematically supported or rejected based on empirical observation? 4. How parsimonious is it? In other words, is it the simplest explanation possible […]

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DEFINING THEORY – Post Positivism-hermeneutic-critical-normative

Defining Mass Communication Theory

Scientists, physical or social (however narrowly or broadly defined), deal in theory.“Theories are stories about how and why events occur…. Scientific theories begin with the assumption that the universe, including the social universe created by acting human beings, reveals certain basic and fundamental properties and processes that explain the ebb and flow of events in specific processes” (Turner, 1998, p. 1). Theory has numerous other definitions. John Bowers and John Courtright offered a traditional scientific definition: “Theories … are sets of statements asserting relationships among classes of variables” (1984, p. 13). So did Charles Berger: “A theory consists of a set of interrelated propositions that stipulate relationships among theoretical constructs and an account of the mechanism or mechanisms that explain the relationships stipulated in the propositions” (2005, p. 417). Kenneth Bailey’s conception of theory accepts a wider array of ways to understand the social world: “Explanations and predictions of social […]

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Mass Communication Theories-II (5636) Exam Paper 2012

Mass Communication Theories-II (5636)

ALLAMAIQBAL OPEN UNIVERSITY Level: PGD/M.Sc Mass Communication                                        Semester: Spring, 2012 Paper: Mass Communication Theories-II (5636)                          Maximum Marks: 100 Time Allowed: 03 hours                                      _                        Pass Marks: 40 Note: ATTEMPT ANY FIVE QUESTIONS. ALL CARRY EQUAL MARKS. Q. No                                                                Questions 1                                      What role groups can play in shaping people’s political attitudes? 2                                      What does the agenda-setting theory assume? What does the Chappel Hill study concluded about the                  agenda-setting theory? 3       What do you know about the Knowledge Gap Hypothesis? Do you see any effects of the new technology on the Knowledge Gap Hypothesis? 4       Explain the theory of spiral of silence. 5       What are the main assumptions of the uses and gratifications theory? 6       What are those conditions which scholars consider as the basic requirements for media effectiveness? 7       Write short notes on the following: i.                             Media determinism ii.                          Functions of mass communication  

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