Four Eras Of Mass Media Theory (Review)

Mass Communication Theory Foundations, Ferment, and Future Review of Chaper 2: FOUR ERAS OF MEDIA THEORY We have identified four distinct eras in the development of mass communication theories, beginning with the origin of media theory in the nineteenth century and ending with the emergence of an array of contemporary perspectives. THE ERA OF MASS SOCIETY AND MASS CULTURE The era of mass society theory is characterized by overinflated fears of media’s influence on “average” people and overly optimistic views of their ability to bring about social good. Powerful social and cultural elites, who saw the traditional social order that was serving them so well undermined by popular media content, were the primary advocates of the former view. Urban elites—the new capitalists whose power was increasingly based on industrialization and urbanization—viewed technology, including the mass media, as facilitating control over the physical environment, expanding human productivity, and generating new forms […]

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Theory & Different Basic Mass Communication Theories

Mass Communication Theory Foundations, Ferment, and Future Review of Chaper 1: DEFINING AND REDEFINING MASS COMMUNICATION When an organization (Source) employs  a technology as a medium to communicate with a large audience, mass communication is said to have occurred. SCIENCE AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR Implementation of the scientific method is difficult for those studying the social world for four reasons: Most of the significant and interesting forms of human behavior are quite difficult to measure. How do we measure something like civic duty? Should we count the incidence of voting? Maybe a person’s decision not to vote is her personal expression of that duty. Try something a little easier, like measuring aggression in a television violence study. Can aggression be measured by counting how many times a child hits a rubber doll? Is gossiping about a neighbor an aggressive act? How do we measure an attitude (a predisposition to do something […]

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EMERGENCE OF MEANING-MAKING PERSPECTIVES ON MEDIA

EMERGENCE OF MEANING-MAKING PERSPECTIVES ON MEDIA Limited-effects notions have undergone important transformations, partially because of pressures from cultural studies, but also because of the emergence of new communication technologies that have forced a rethinking of traditional assumptions about how people use (and are used by) media. We are in the early stages, then, of what may well become the fourth era of mass communication theory. These new perspectives are transforming how we think about media effects. For example, framing theory and the media literacy movement offer compelling and cogent arguments concerning the way mass communication influences individuals and plays an important role in the social world. We are again living in an era when we are challenged by the rise of powerful new media that clearly are altering how most of us live our lives and relate to others. And we have developed new research strategies and methods that provide […]

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COMPETING CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES CHALLENGE LIMITED-EFFECTS THEORY

FERMENT IN THE FIELD: COMPETING CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES CHALLENGE LIMITED-EFFECTS THEORY Despite these pockets of domestic resistance, most mass communication researchers in the United States still found limited-effects notions and the empirical research findings on which they were based persuasive. But challenge also came from researchers in other parts of the world who were less convinced, as you’ll see in Chapter 9. Mass society notions continued to flourish in Europe, where both leftwing and right-wing concerns about the power of media were deeply rooted in World War II experiences with propaganda. Europeans were also skeptical about the power of postpositivist, quantitative social research methods to verify and develop social theory (they saw this approach to research as reductionist—reducing complex communication processes and social phenomena to little more than narrow propositions generated from small-scale investigations). This reductionism was widely viewed as a distinctly American fetish. Some European academics were resentful of the […]

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THE EMERGENCE OF THE LIMITED-EFFECTS PERSPECTIVE

A SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE ON MASS COMMUNICATION LEADS TO THE EMERGENCE OF THE LIMITED-EFFECTS PERSPECTIVE Mass society notions were especially dominant among social theorists beginning in the mid-1800s and lasting until the 1950s. Since then these ideas have enjoyed intermittent popularity whenever new technology has posed a threat to the status quo. In 2005, for example, conservative religious leaders attacked cable television’s cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants for promoting “the homosexual agenda” (Olbermann, 2005), and in 2007 film critic Michael Medved accused Happy Feet, the digital animation film about penguins, of containing “a bizarre anti-religious bias,” an “endorsement of gay identity,” and a “propagandist theme” of condemnation of the human race, support for environmentalism, and exaltation of the United Nations (quoted in Hightower, 2007, p. 3). During the 1930s, world events seemed to continually confirm the truth of mass society ideas. In Europe, reactionary and revolutionary political movements used media in their struggles […]

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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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