In this chapter, we will trace the emergence of theories directly addressing questions about the way media might produce profound changes in social life through their subtle influence on the myriad of social practices that form the foundation of everyday life. These new perspectives argued that media might have the power to intrude into and alter how we make sense of ourselves and our social world. Media could alter how we view ourselves, our relationship to others, even the image that we have of our body.

Culture The learned behavior of members of a given social group


Media have become a primary means by which most of us experience or learn about many aspects of the world around us. Even when we don’t learn about these things directly from media, we learn about them from other people who get their ideas of the world from media. Mass society theory greeted similar types of social change with alarm. It viewed mediated culture as inferior to elite culture.

Cultural studies Focus on use of media to create forms of culture that structure everyday life


The various cultural theories of media can be identified in several ways. We use a dichotomy widely employed by cultural theorists to differentiate their scholarship (Garnham, 1995): Microscopic interpretive theories focus on how individuals and social groups use media to create and foster forms of culture that structure everyday life. These theories are usually referred to as cultural studies theory. Macroscopic structural theories focus on how media institutions are structured within capitalist economies. These theories focus attention on the way social elites operate media to earn profits and exercise influence in society. They argue that elites sometimes use media to propagate hegemonic culture as a means of maintaining their dominant position in the social order.

Hegemonic culture Culture imposed from above or outside that serves the interests of those in dominant social positions

Political economy theories Focus on social elites’ use of economic power to exploit media institutions


Cultural studies theories are less concerned with the long-term consequences of media for the social order and more concerned with looking at how media affect our individual lives. These theories, as we’ve seen throughout this book, are micro-level, or microscopic, because they deemphasize larger issues about the social order in favor of questions involving the everyday life of average people. Political economy theories, by contrast, are macroscopic cultural theories. They are less concerned with developing detailed explanations of how individuals are influenced by media and more interested with how the social order as a whole is affected.

Microscopic cultural studies researchers prefer to interpret what is going on in the world immediately around them. Many of them find the social world an endlessly fascinating place. They are intrigued by the mundane, the seemingly trivial, the routine. They view our experience of everyday life and of reality itself as an artificial social construction that we somehow maintain with only occasional minor breakdowns. They want to know what happens when mass media are incorporated into the routines of daily life and play an essential role in shaping our experience of the social world.



Theories openly espousing certain values and using these values to evaluate and criticize the status quo, providing alternate ways of interpreting the social role of mass media.

Critical theory often analyzes specific social institutions, probing the extent to which valued objectives are sought and achieved. Mass media and the mass culture they promote have become a focus for critical theory. Critical researchers link mass media and mass culture to a variety of social problems.

Strengths Weaknesses
1. Is politically based, action-oriented

2. Uses theory and research to plan change in the real world

3. Asks big, important questions about media control and ownership

1. Is too political; call to action is too subjective

2. Typically lacks scientific verification; based on subjective observation

3. When subjected to scientific verification, often employs innovative but controversial research methods


Cultural studies and political economy theorists employ a broad range of research methods and theory-generation strategies, including some that are unsystematic and selective. As a result, critics believe that personal biases and interests inevitably motivate culture researchers and affect the outcome of their work. But, argue cultural theory’s defenders, this is acceptable as long as researchers openly acknowledge those biases or interests.

Qualitative methods Research methods that highlight essential differences (distinctive qualities) in phenomena


In Europe, the development of grand social theory remained a central concern in the social sciences and humanities after World War II. Mass society theory gave way to a succession of alternate schools of thought. Some were limited to specific nations or specific academic disciplines or even certain universities. Others achieved widespread interest and acceptance. Most were not theories of media—they were theories of society offering observations about media and their place in society or the lives of individuals. Some of the most widely accepted were based on the writings of Karl Marx. Marxist theory influenced even the theories created in reaction against it. Marx’s ideas formed a foundation or touchstone for much post–World War II European social theory.

Grand social theories Highly ambitious, macroscopic, speculative theories that attempt to understand and predict important trends in culture and society

Marxist theory Theory arguing that the hierarchical class system is at the root of all social problems and must be ended by a revolution of the proletariat

Base (or substructure) of society In Marxist theory, the means of production superstructure In Marxist theory, a society’s culture

Ideology In Marxist theory, ideas present in a culture that mislead average people and encourage them to act against their own interests

Cultural Studies Theory

Strengths Weaknesses
1. Provides focus on how individuals develop their understanding of the social world

2. Asks big, important questions about the role of media

3. Respects content consumption abilities of audience members

1. Has little explanatory power at the macroscopic level

2. Focuses too narrowly on individual compared with societal effects

3. Typically lacks scientific verification; is based on subjective observation

4. When subjected to scientific verification, often employs nontraditional (controversial) research methods

High culture Set of cultural artifacts including music, art, literature, and poetry that humanists judge to have the highest value

Culture industries Mass media that turn high culture and folk culture into commodities sold for profit


Political economy theorists study elite control of economic institutions, such as banks and stock markets, and then try to show how this control affects many other social institutions, including the mass media (Murdock, 1989a). In certain respects, political economists accept the classic Marxist assumption that the base dominates the superstructure. They investigate the means of production by looking at economic institutions, expecting to find that these institutions shape media to suit their interests and purposes. Political economists have examined how economic constraints limit or bias the forms of mass culture produced and distributed through the media. Political economists have examined how economic constraints limit or bias the forms of mass culture produced and distributed through the media.

During the past four decades, compared to cultural studies theorists, political economy theorists have worked in relative obscurity.


Transmissional perspective View of mass communication as merely the process of transmitting messages from a distance for the purpose of control

Ritual Perspective View of mass communication as the representation of shared belief where reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed

Multiple points of access Idea that some people make interpretations at one level of meaning, whereas others make their interpretations at others


McLuhan drew on critical cultural theories such as political economy theory to develop his perspective, his work was rejected by political economists because it failed to provide a basis on which to produce positive social change. McLuhan had no links to any political or social movements. He seemed ready to accept whatever changes were dictated by and inherent in communications technology. Because he argued that technology inevitably causes specific changes in how people think, in how society is structured, and in the forms of culture that are created, McLuhan was a technological determinist.


Innis was one of the first scholars to systematically speculate at length about the possible linkages between communication media and the various forms of social structure found at certain points in history. In Empire and Communication (1950) and The Bias of Communication (1951), he argued that the early empires of Egypt, Greece, and Rome were based on elite control of the written word. He contrasted these empires with earlier social orders dependent on the spoken word. Innis maintained that before elite discovery of the written word, dialogue was the dominant mode of public discourse and political authority was much more diffuse.

Bias of communication Innis’s idea that communication technology makes centralization of power inevitable


The medium is the message McLuhan’s idea that new forms of media transform our experience of ourselves and our society, and this influence is ultimately more important than the content of specific messages

Global village McLuhan’s conception of a new form of social organization emerging as instantaneous electronic media tie the entire world into one great social, political, and cultural system




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Functionalism Theoretical approach that conceives of social systems as living organisms whose various parts work, or function, together to maintain essential processes

Communication systems theory Theory that examines the mass communication process as composed of interrelated parts that work together to meet some goal

Social cognitive theory Theory of learning through interaction with the environment that involves reciprocal causation of behavior, personal factors, and environmental events


Merton (1967, p. 68) described middle-range theory as follows:

  1. Middle-range theories consist of limited sets of assumptions from which specific hypotheses are logically derived and confirmed by empirical investigation.
  2. These theories do not remain separate but are consolidated into wider networks of theory.
  3. These theories are sufficiently abstract to deal with differing spheres of social behavior and social structure, so that they transcend sheer description or empirical generalization.
  4. This type of theory cuts across the distinction between micro-sociological problems.
  5. The middle-range orientation involves the specification of ignorance. Rather than pretend to knowledge where it is in fact absent, this orientation expressly recognizes what must still be learned to lay the foundation for still more knowledge.

Manifest functions Intended and observed consequences of media use

Latent functions Unintended and less easily observed consequences of media use

Classic four functions of the media Surveillance, correlation, transmission of the social heritage, and entertainment

Mass entertainment theory Theory asserting that television and other mass media, because they relax or otherwise entertain average people, perform a vital social function


A system consists of a set of parts that are interlinked so that changes in one part induce changes in other parts. System parts can be directly linked through mechanical connections, or they can be indirectly linked by communication technology. Because all parts are linked, the entire system can change as a result of alterations in only one element. Systems can be goal-directed if they are designed to accomplish a long-term objective. Some systems are capable of monitoring the environment and altering their operations in response to environmental changes.


The rise of functionalism, middle-range, and systems theories in the 1950s and 1960s encouraged theorists to move beyond simplistic, fragmented, linear models of mass communication. At a time when limited-effects notions dominated, functionalism’s value-neutrality was attractive to researchers and theorists studying media’s influence, especially as functional analyses accepted the presence of latent as well as manifest functions. The strategy of developing middle-range theory offered hope of moving beyond the empirical generalizations produced by run-of-the-mill effects research. These generalizations could be “added up” to create broader theories of media. Ultimately, functionalism’s promise to more meaningfully alter the direction of mass communication theory was weakened by its inability to draw definitive conclusions about effects and by what many saw as its status quo orientation, as exemplified by research on the narcotizing dysfunction and mass entertainment theory.

Some mass communication researchers looked to a concept related to functionalism developed by communications engineers, systems, which evolved from cybernetics, the study of the regulation and control of complex machines. Systems consist of sets of parts interlinked so changes in one part induce changes in other parts. Systems theory allows the creation of models demonstrating the interdependence, selfregulation, and goal-orientation of systems. The application of systems theories to mass communication raised many important questions that forced reconsideration of the limited-effects perspective.

Reconsideration of limited-effects thinking about media also came from people interested in the influence of mediated violence on subsequent viewer aggression. Television and children were the focus of this inquiry.

Defense of the media (and the limited-effects perspective) came from proponents of catharsis, the idea that viewing violence substitutes for the actual demonstration of aggression by the viewer. But this theory was ultimately discredited as social cognitive theory became widely accepted.

Social cognitive theory proved to be a useful way of understanding how people learn behaviors from television. By differentiating between imitation and identification and identifying several different modeling processes, such as observational learning, inhibitory and disinhibitory effects, and vicarious reinforcement, it helped explain how individuals learn from the media. Even as these ideas have been applied to “new” media such as video games, they have left many questions unanswered, especially as these insights were extrapolated from micro-level analyses (where they were initially formulated) to more macro-level explanations of effects.

Research regarding aggressive cues and priming effects attempted to add some specificity to social cognitive theory, as did the developmental perspective. Another advance was the consideration of different contextual variables, aspects of the presentation of violence in the media content itself, in determining the amount of learning from viewing. Still another was a reconception of the young audience—the active theory of television viewing—that, although not dismissing media effects, did suggest that young viewers have more influence over their interaction with media than social cognitive theory seemed to imply.

The demonstration of significant media effects on individuals naturally led to the critical study of larger, macro-level effects, especially in the realm of mass communication and the socialization of children. Early notions of media as an early window on the world have recently been updated and expanded into important work on the redefinition, or even the loss, of childhood itself.

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Two wars—one imaginary, one real—helped move mass communication theory away from notions of powerful and subversive mass media to a more moderate and benign view.

The War of the Worlds researchers, led by Hadley Cantril, were part of a vanguard of social scientists who transformed our view of how media influence society. Within twenty years of Welles’s broadcast, the way many scholars looked at mass media had been radically altered. They no longer feared media as potential instruments of political oppression and manipulation, but instead portrayed mass communication as a relatively benign force with much potential for social good. Researchers gradually came to see media’s power over the public as limited—so limited that no government regulations were deemed necessary to prevent manipulation.

limited-effects perspective The guiding idea that media have minimal or limited effects


The people who developed limited-effects theory during the 1940s and 1950s were primarily methodologists—not theorists. Both Hovland and Lazarsfeld were convinced that we could best assess the influence of media by employing objective empirical methods to measure it. They argued that new research methods such as experiments and surveys made it possible to directly observe and draw objective conclusions about the effects of media. These conclusions would guide the construction of more useful theory that was grounded in systematic observation, not wild speculation.

As the new social scientists conducted their research, they found that media were not as powerful as mass society or propaganda theory had suggested. Media influence over public opinion or attitudes often proved hard to locate. Media influence was typically less important than that of factors such as social status or education. Those media effects that were found seemed to be isolated and were sometimes contradictory.

The factors that combined to make development of the perspective possible. We list these factors here, and we will refer to them in later sections.

1.The refinement and broad acceptance of empirical social research methods was an essential factor in the emergence of the limited-effects perspective. Throughout this period, empirical research methods were effectively promoted as an ideal means of measuring, describing, and ultimately explaining social phenomena. A generation of empirical social scientists working in several academic disciplines declared them to be the only “scientific” way of dealing with social phenomena. They dismissed other approaches as overly speculative, unsystematic, or too subjective . Because so few people at the time understood the limitations of empirical research methods, they often uncritically accepted the findings and conclusions derived from them. When these outcomes conflicted with past theories, the older theories were questioned and rejected, often on the basis of a handful of inconclusive findings.

  1. Empirical social researchers successfully branded people who advocated mass society and propaganda notions as “unscientific.” They accused mass society theory advocates of being fuzzy-minded humanists, doomsayers, political ideologues, or biased against media. Also, mass society and propaganda notions lost some of their broad appeal as the threat of propaganda seemed to fade in the late 1950s and 1960s. Within social science departments, study of propaganda was abandoned in favor of public opinion research.
  2. Social researchers exploited the commercial potential of the new research methods and gained the support of private industry. One of the first articles Lazarsfeld wrote after arriving in the United States was about the use of survey research methods as a tool for advertisers (Kornhauser and Lazarsfeld, 1935). Researchers promoted surveys and experiments as a means of probing media audiences and interpreting consumer attitudes and behaviors. Most of Hovland’s persuasion studies had more or less direct application to advertising and marketing. Lazarsfeld coined the term administrative research to refer to these applications. He persuasively argued for the use of empirical research to guide administrative decision making.
  3. The development of empirical social research was strongly backed by various private and government foundations, most notably the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Science Foundation. This support was crucial, particularly in the early stages, because large-scale empirical research required much more funding than previous forms of social research had required. Without support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Lazarsfeld might never have come to the United States or have been able to develop and demonstrate the validity of his approach. Without the government funding provided during the Cold War, large mass communication research centers might never have been established at major universities. The generation of empirical researchers trained in these centers might never have come to dominate the field during the 1970s and 1980s.
  4. As empirical research demonstrated its usefulness, media companies began to sponsor and eventually conduct their own empirical research on media. In time, both CBS and NBC formed their own social research departments and employed many outside researchers as consultants. Two of the most influential early media researchers were Frank Stanton and Joseph Klapper—the former collaborated with Lazarsfeld on numerous research projects in the 1940s, and the latter was Lazarsfeld’s student. Both Stanton and Klapper rose to become executives at CBS. As media corporations grew larger and earned sizable profits, they could afford to fund empirical research—especially when that research helped to justify the status quo and block moves to regulate their operations. Media funding and support were vital to the development of commercial audience ratings services such as Nielsen and Arbitron. These companies pioneered the use of survey research methods to measure the size of audiences and guide administrative decision making in areas such as advertising and marketing. Media support was also crucial to the growth of various national polling services, such as Gallup, Harris, and Roper. Media coverage of polls and ratings data helped establish their credibility in the face of widespread commonsense criticism. During the 1940s and 1950s, most people were skeptical about the usefulness of data gathered from small samples. They wondered, for example, how pollsters could survey just 300 or 1200 people and draw conclusions about an entire city or nation. To answer these questions, media reported that opinion polls and ratings were valid because they were based on “scientific” samples. Often, there was little explanation of what the term scientific meant in this context.
  5. Empirical social researchers successfully established their approach within the various social research disciplines—political science, history, social psychology, sociology, and economics. These disciplines, in turn, shaped the development of communication research. During the 1960s and 1970s, several communication areas—for example, advertising and journalism—rapidly.


Two-step flow theory The idea that messages pass from the media, through opinion leaders, to opinion followers

inductive An approach to theory construction that sees research beginning with empirical observation rather than speculation

middle-range theory A theory composed of empirical generalizations based on empirical fact

Strengths Weaknesses
1. Focuses attention on the environment in which effects can and can’t occur

2. Stresses importance of opinion leaders in formation of public opinion

3. Is based on inductive rather than deductive reasoning

4. Effectively challenges simplistic notions of direct effects

1. Is limited to its time (1940s) and media environment (no television)

2. Uses reported behavior (voting) as only test of media effects

3. Downplays reinforcement as an important media effect

4. Uses survey methods that underestimate media impact

5. Later research demonstrates a multistep flow of influence


Gatekeepers In two-step flow, people who screen media messages and pass on those messages and help others share their views

Opinion leaders In two-step flow, those who pass on information to opinion followers

opinion followers In two-step flow, those who receive information from opinion leaders


  1. Media rarely influence individuals directly.
  2. There is a two-step flow of media influence.
  3. By the time most people become adults, they have developed strongly held group commitments such as political party and religious affiliations. These affiliations provide an effective barrier against media influence. Media use tends to be consistent with these commitments.
  4. When media effects do occur, they are modest and isolated.

Indirect-effects theory When media do seem to have an effect, that effect is “filtered” through other parts of the society, for example, through friends or social groups

Limited-effects theory The theory that media have minimal or limited effects because those effects are mitigated by a variety of mediating or intervening variables


The war provided three important motivations for people interested in what would come to be known as attitude-change research.

  • First, the success of the Nazi propaganda efforts in Europe challenged the democratic and very American notion of the people’s wisdom. It seemed quite likely that powerful bad ideas could overwhelm inadequately defended good ideas. Strategies were needed to counter Nazi propaganda and defend American values.
  • A second war-provided research motivation was actually more imperative. Large numbers of men and women from all parts of the country and from all sorts of backgrounds had been rapidly recruited, trained, and tossed together in the armed forces.
  • The third motivation was simple convenience: Whereas the military saw soldiers in training, psychologists saw research subjects—well-tracked research subjects. The availability of many people about whom large amounts of background information had already been collected proved significant because it helped define the research direction of what we now call attitude-change theory.


The study of media effects was obviously a worthwhile focus for research, but should it have been the dominant focus? In their pursuit of insights into media effects processes, researchers were turning their attention away from larger questions about the role of media in society.

(1) The influence of mass media is rarely direct, because it is almost always mediated by individual differences;

(2) The influence of mass media is rarely direct, because it is almost always mediated by group membership or relationships.

Individual differences Individuals’ different psychological make-ups that cause media influence to vary from person to person

Social categories The idea that members of given groups or aggregates will respond to media stimuli in more or less uniform ways

Cognitive consistency The idea that people consciously and unconsciously work to preserve their existing views

Cognitive dissonance Information that is inconsistent with a person’s already-held attitudes creates psychological discomfort, or dissonance

Selective processes Exposure (attention), retention, and perception; psychological processes designed to reduce dissonance

Attitude-Change Theory

Strengths Weaknesses
1. Pays deep attention to process in which messages can and can’t have effects

2. Provides insight into influence of individual differences and group affiliations in shaping media influence

3. Attention to selective processes helps clarify how individuals process information

1. Experimental manipulation of variables overestimates their power and underestimates media’s

2. Focuses on information in media messages, not on more contemporary symbolic media

3. Uses attitude change as only measure of effects, ignoring reinforcement and more subtle forms of media influence

Information-flow theory Theory of how information moves from media to audiences to have specific intended effects (now known as information or innovation diffusion theory)

Source-dominated theory Theory that examines the communication process from the point of view of some elite message source

Phenomenistic theory Theory that media are rarely the sole cause of effects and are relatively powerless when compared with other social factors

Reinforcement theory More common name for phenomenistic theory, stressing the theory’s view that media’s most common effect is reinforcement

Elite pluralism Theory viewing society as composed of interlocking pluralistic groups led by opinion leaders who rely on media for information about politics and the social world

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Communication & International Communication

Communication & International Communication

1. What is Communication? • The word communication has originated from a Latin word “Communes” which means something common. • Communication is a process of exchanging information, ideas, thoughts, feeling and emotions through speech signals, writing or behavior. • In communication process, a sender encodes a message and then using a medium and send it to appropriate feedback using a medium

3. Importance of Communication • Express thoughts, ideas and feelings • Creating awareness • To fulfill a goal • Highlight issues • Progress, development • Educating the masses etc.

4. Process of Communication

5. Types of Communication • People communicate with each other in a number of ways that depend upon the message and its context in which it is being sent. • Types of communication based on the communication channels used are – • Verbal Communication • Nonverbal Communication

6. Nonverbal Communication • Nonverbal communication involves those nonverbal stimuli in a communication setting that are generated by both the source [speaker] and his or her use of the environment and that have potential message value for the source or receiver [listener] (Samovar et al). • Basically it is sending and receiving messages in a variety of ways without the use of verbal codes (words). • It is both intentional and unintentional. • Most speakers / listeners are not conscious of this.

7. Verbal Communication • Verbal communication is refers to the form of communication in which message is transmitted verbally, communication is done by word, mouth and a piece of writing. Objective of every communication is to have people understood what we are trying to convey. • Verbal Communication • Oral Communication • Written Communication

8. Oral Communication • In oral communication, spoken words are used. • It includes face-to-face conversations, speech, telephonic conversation, video, radio, television, voice over internet. In oral communication, communication is influence by pitch, volume, speed and clarity of speaking.

9. Written Communication • In written communication, written signs or symbols are used to communicate. • A written message may be printed or hand written. In written communication message can be transmitted via email, letter, report, memo etc. • Message, in written communication, is influenced by the vocabulary & grammar used, writing style, precision and clarity of the language used.

10. Levels of Communication • Scholars categorize different levels and types of communication. These distinctions are somewhat artificial, since types of communication more realistically fit on a continuum rather than in separate categories. Nevertheless, to understand the various types of communication, it is helpful to consider various factors. The distinguishing characteristics include the following: • Number of communicators (one through many). • Physical proximity of the communicators in relation to each other (close or distant). • Immediacy of the exchange, whether it is taking place either live or in apparently real time or on a delayed basis. • Number of sensory channels (including visual, auditory, tactile and so on). • The context of the communication (whether face-to-face or mediated). • Levels of communication can be categorized in four: • Intrapersonal Communication • Interpersonal Communication • Group Communication • Mass Communication • International Communication

11. Intrapersonal communication • Intrapersonal communication is a process in which people communicate with themselves either consciously or unconsciously • Intrapersonal Communication is communication that occurs in your own mind. It is the basis of your feelings, biases, prejudices, and beliefs. • Examples are when you make any kind of decision – what to eat or wear. When you think about something – what you want to do on the weekend or when you think about another person.

12. Interpersonal Communication • Communication between two people called interpersonal communication. • Interpersonal communication is the communication between two people but can involve more in informal conversations. • Examples are when you are talking to your friends. A teacher and student discussing an assignment. A patient and a doctor discussing a treatment. A manager and a potential employee during an interview.

13. Group Communication • Small Group communication is communication within formal or informal groups or teams. It is group interaction that results in decision making, problem solving and discussion within an organization. • Examples would be a group planning a surprise birthday party for someone. A team working together on a project.

14. Mass Communication • Communication through electronic gadgets (mass media) like books, journals, TV, newspapers etc. • Mass communication is the electronic or print transmission of messages to the general public. Outlets called mass media include things like radio, television, film, and printed materials designed to reach large audiences. • A television commercial. A magazine article. Hearing a song on the radio. Books, newspapers, billboards. The key is that you are reaching a large amount of people without it being face to face. Feedback is generally delayed with mass communication.

15. International Communication • The phenomenon of global communication as we know it today is essentially the result of technological advancements. It probably started with the development of advanced transport technology such as the steam engine and the internal combustion engine. • Currently it is primarily driven by the worldwide proliferation of advanced information and communication technologies (ICTs)

16. Classic Understanding • Involves or is carried across or takes place between two or more nation-states • Interactions between and among nation-states • International relations • Traditionally been associated with inter-state and inter- governmental interactions • Diplomacy and government propaganda in which powerful states dictate the communication agenda

17. Expansion of the Scope of IC • Communication across national borders has expanded to a large diversity of business-to-business and people-to-people interactions at a global level. • Not only the representatives of nation-states, but also a variety of non-state actors such as international non- governmental bodies, social movements as well as ordinary individuals are increasingly shaping the nature of transnational communication. • Communication between nation-states, institutions, groups and individuals across national, geographical and cultural borders

18. Definition of IC • Thussu defines international communication simply as communication that occurs across international borders. • Words, acts or attitudes can be depicted as international communication whenever they impinge – intentionally or unintentionally – upon the minds of private individuals, officials or groups from other countries (Massachusett’s Institute’s Center for International Studies). • International communication is an extremely broad field involving social conditions, attitudes and institutions that have an effect on the production and/or reception of various forms of communication among people. • It recognises not only the media and technologies through which impulses pass, but also the attitudes and social circumstances of the sources, the predisposition of receivers as well as the effects and impact of the contents.

19. Communication Technologies • Global connectedness was enhanced by the development of ICTs such as the telegraph and telephone; the laying of submarine cables between Europe and the USA; the expansion of railroads and the development of modern navigation with the help of newly developed radio technology. • This period also saw the growth of the major international news agencies in Europe and the United States • The period was furthermore characterised by the hegemony of the great European powers that used the developing communication technologies, media and international news agencies not only to enhance their powers globally and to acquire colonies and manage empires, but also to foster Westernisation and Europeanisation around the world.

20. Importance of Public Opinion • The great world powers also started to realise the impact of and importance of public opinion and the value of propaganda especially in wartimes as well as the potential of the developing media such as the radio in this regard. The spread of contending ideologies such as liberalism, communism, fascism and a number of Islamic movements furthermore led to the increasing usage of the fast developing media, the press and communication technologies to organize the transnational activities of revolutionary movements. • However, it was in the period after World War II that the growth of global communication really accelerated (Mowlana 1996). This acceleration was firstly driven by the continued development and expansion of media such as television and, most importantly, the rapid development, improvement and widespread proliferation of ICTs such as satellites and computers.

21. Democracy and Media • The rise of democracy and the attainment of independence by many former colonies of the great European powers also led to an increase in the number of nation-states who participated in the political, cultural and socio-economic aspects of international communication (Mowlana 1996). During this period the USA emerged as the dominant political power and increasingly employed the media as well as ICTs not only for the purposes of economic and military domination, but also economically and culturally.

22. International Communication • The acceleration of international conferences; the international expansion of educational institutions, congresses and seminars; the exchange of students between countries; the popularization of international travel; and the expansion of international sport furthermore increased contact and communication between the peoples of the world. • In this competitive world with its revolving economic and communication giants, the globe has been transformed into a global electronic village and information has emerged as a primary commodity and resource. • The conclusion can be drawn that global communication is in a continuous state of ferment and evolution .

23. Effects of Global Communication • The borders of nation-states have become porous as the globalisation of technology has made it virtually impossible for governments to regulate and control the transborder flow of information and communication. • Global media systems have furthermore introduced propaganda and public diplomacy as important factors in international relations. • Global communication is radically redefining the nature of both hard and soft power in international relations.

24. McLuhan’s(1964) notionof theglobalvillage • Socially, integrated global communication networks has to a certain extent resulted in the realisation of McLuhan’s (1964) notion of the global village with the emergence of, among others, global interconnectedness, global consciousness and global co-operation between NGOs in widely different areas such as human rights, women’s rights and environmental protection. Social relations are no longer restricted to a particular space or locality, but are dispersed globally and spatially as ICTs create and maintain social relations irrespective of time and space.

25. Global Digital Telecommunication • However, one of the most important consequences is probably the blurring of the boundaries between technological, economic, political, social and cultural domains . • Both traditional media (eg print, photography, film, radio, television and videos) as well as the fast developing new information and communication technologies (ICTs) (eg telephone and telegraphy, satellites and computers) that have initially developed fairly independently, are merging into a global digital telecommunications network.

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Radio and international communication & The battle of the airwaves

As with other new technologies, Western countries were the first to grasp the strategic implications of radio communication after the first radio transmissions of the human voice in 1902. Unlike cable, radio equipment was comparatively cheap and could be sold on a mass scale. There was also a growing awareness among American businesses that radio, if properly developed and controlled, might be used to undercut the huge advantages of British-dominated international cable links (Luther, 1988). They realized that, while undersea cables and their landing terminals could be vulnerable, and their location required bilateral negotiations between nations, radio waves could travel anywhere, unrestrained by politics or geography.

At the 1906 international radiotelegraph conference in Berlin, 28 states debated radio equipment standards and procedures to minimize interference. The great naval powers, who were also the major users of radio (Britain, Germany, France, the USA and Russia), had imposed a regime of radio frequency allocation, allowing priority to the country that first notified the International Radiotelegraph Union of its intention to use a specific radio frequency (Mattelart, 1994).

As worldwide radio broadcasting grew, stations that transmitted across national borders had, in accordance with an agreement signed in London in 1912, to register their use of a particular wavelength with the international secretariat of the International Radiotelegraph Union. But there was no mechanism for either assigning or withholding slots; it was a system of first come, first served. Thus the companies or states with the necessary capital and technology prevailed in taking control of the limited spectrum space, to the disadvantage of smaller and less developed countries (Hamelink, 1994).

Two distinct types of national radio broadcasting emerged: in the USA, the Radio Act of 1927 enshrined its established status as a commercial enterprise, funded by advertising, while the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), founded in 1927, as a non-profit, public broadcasting monopoly, provided a model for several other European and Commonwealth countries (McChesney, 1993).

As the strongest voice in the World Radio Conference in Washington in 1927, private companies helped to write an agreement that allowed them to continue developing their use of the spectrum, without regard to possible signal interference for other countries. By being embodied in an international treaty, these provisions took on the character of ‘international law’, including the principle of allocating specific wavelengths for particular purposes (Luther, 1988). A major consequence of this conference was to reinforce US and European domination of the international radio spectrum. However, it was the Soviet Union which became the first nation to exploit this new medium for international broadcasting.

The battle of the airwaves

The strategic significance of international communication grew with the expansion of the new medium. Ever since the advent of radio, its use for propaganda was an integral part of its development, with its power to influence values, beliefs and attitudes (Taylor, 1995). During the First World War, the power of radio was quickly recognized as vital both to the management of public opinion at home and propaganda abroad, directed at allies and enemies alike. As noted by a distinguished scholar of propaganda: ‘During the war period it came to be recognised that the mobilisation of men and means was not sufficient; there must be mobilisation of opinion. Power over opinion, as over life and property, passed into official hands’.

The Russian communists were one of the earliest political groups to realize the ideological and strategic importance of broadcasting, and the first public broadcast to be recorded in the history of wireless propaganda was by the Council of the People’s Commissar’s of Lenin’s historic message on 30 October 1917: ‘The All-Russian Congress of Soviets has formed a new Soviet Government. The Government of Kerensky has been overthrown and arrested. Kerensky himself has fled. All official institutions are in the hands of the Soviet Government’ (quoted in Hale, 1975: 16).

The Soviet Union was one of the first countries to take advantage of a medium which could reach across continents and national boundaries to an international audience. The world’s first short-wave radio broadcasts were sent out from Moscow in 1925. Within five years, the All-Union Radio was regularly broadcasting communist propaganda in German, French, Dutch and English.

By the time the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, radio broadcasting had become an extension of international diplomacy. The head of Hitler’s Propaganda Ministry, Josef Goebbels, believed in the power of radio broadcasting as a tool of propaganda. ‘Real broadcasting is true propaganda. Propaganda means fighting on all battlefields of the spirit, generating, multiplying, destroying, exterminating, building and undoing. Our propaganda is determined by what we call German race, blood and nation’ (quoted in Hale, 1975: 2).

In 1935, Nazi Germany turned its attention to disseminating worldwide the racist and anti-Semitic ideology of the Third Reich. The Nazi Reichsender broadcasts were targeted at Germans living abroad, as far afield as South America and Australia. These short-wave transmissions were rebroadcast by Argentina, home to many Germans. Later the Nazis expanded their international broadcasting to include several languages, including Afrikaans, Arabic and Hindustani and, by 1945, German radio was broadcasting in more than 50 languages.

In Fascist Italy, under Benito Mussolini, a Ministry of Print and Propaganda was created to promote Fascist ideals and win public opinion for colonial campaigns such as the invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 1935, and support for Francisco Franco’s Fascists during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Mussolini also distributed radio sets to Arabs, tuned to one station alone – Radio Bari in southern Italy. This propaganda prompted the British Foreign Office to create a monitoring unit of the BBC to listen in to international broadcasts and later to start an Arabic language service to the region.

The Second World War saw an explosion in international broadcasting as a propaganda tool on both sides. Japanese wartime propaganda included short-wave transmissions from Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK) the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, to South-east and East Asia and also to the West coast of the United States, which had a large Japanese-American population. In addition, NHK also transmitted high-quality propaganda programmes such as Zero Hour aimed at US troops in the Pacific islands (Wood, 1992).

Although the BBC, apart from the Empire Service (the precursor of the BBC World Service), was not directly controlled by the British Government, its claim to independence during the war, was ‘little more than a self-adulatory part of the British myth’ (Curran and Seaton, 1996: 147). John Reith, its first Director General and the spirit behind the BBC, was for a time the Minister of Information in 1940 and resented being referred to as ‘Dr Goebbels’ opposite number’ (Hickman, 1995: 29).

The Empire Service had been established in 1932 with the aim of connecting the scattered parts of the British Empire. Funded by the Foreign Office, it tended to reflect the government’s public diplomacy. At the beginning of the Second World War, the BBC was broadcasting in seven foreign languages apart from English – Afrikaans, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish (Walker, 1992: 36). By the end of the war it was broadcasting in 39 languages.

The French General De Gaulle used the BBC’s French service, during the war years, to send messages to the resistance movement in occupied France and for a time between October 1942 and May 1943, the BBC broadcast a weekly 15-minute newsletter to Russia with the co-operation of the Russian news agency TASS (Telegrafnoe agentstvo Sovetskogo Soiuza). It also broadcast The Shadow of the Swastika, the first of a series of dramas about the Nazi Party. The BBC helped the US Army to create the American Forces Network, which broadcast recordings of American shows for US forces in Britain, Middle East and Africa. More importantly, given Britain’s proximity to the war theatre, the BBC played a key role in the propaganda offensive and often it was more effective than American propaganda which, as British media historian Asa Briggs comments was ‘both distant and yet too brash, too unsophisticated and yet too contrived to challenge the propaganda forces already at-work on the continent’ (1970:412).

Until the Second World War radio in the USA was known more for its commercial potential as a vehicle for advertisements rather than a govern ment propaganda tool, but after 1942, the year the Voice of America (VOA) was founded, the US Government made effective use of radio to promote its political interests – a process which reached its high point during the decades of Cold War.

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The Study of Political Communication ( review )

Chapter #3 :  The Study of Political Communication (Review)

The study of political communication is popularly believed to have begun with television, it actually dates back nearly a century. It was Walter Lippmann, the American journalist writing in the 1920s, who eloquently and influentially described the ability of the media to mold the images people carried in their heads about a distant world that was “out of reach, out of sight [and] out of mind.”


Back to Lippmann in the 1920s. After the war, Lippmann became disillusioned by the ways that Creel had used the powers of persuasion and coercion to influence the mass public. He rejected classic liberal democracy concepts, such as the power of rational thought or the ability of the press to relay accurate information. Instead, he concluded that people were prone to psychologically distort information and engage in stereotyping. “We do not first see, and then define, we define first and then see,” he said. But there was more. Unlike earlier eras, where individuals lived in small towns and had direct experience with issues of their communities, in the modern world, people were compelled to make decisions about complex problems that they could not directly experience. Living in a world that was “out of reach, out of sight, out of mind,” Lippmann (1922) poetically penned, people had to rely on governments and the press for accurate information (p. 18). But—and here was the modern wrinkle—governments could effectively manipulate symbols to manufacture consent. The press did not convey deeper truths, Lippmann concluded. Instead, it simply transmitted events, even forcing attention on selected issues.

ABCs of Propaganda

In the 1930s, a group formed an Institute of Propaganda that assembled a list of the “ABC’s of propaganda” that included testimonial, the ability of a communication to call on the views of a credible spokesperson; bandwagon, the persuasive influence exerted by the perception that large numbers of people supported a cause; and transfer, the powerful impact that a message could exert if it was associated with a popular image or symbol.

The term propaganda, with its sweeping, heavy, and negative connotations, gave way to less pejorative terms like persuasion and information control. But the questions the Institute raised would continue to occupy students of political persuasion.


Certain individuals served as opinion leaders for others, influencing followers’ political views. Ideas seemed to flow from radio and newspapers to these influential leaders; the opinion leaders then scooped them up, distilled them and conveyed them to the less involved, less active members of the electorate. The researchers dubbed this the two-step flow. Thus, media did not impact on the mass audience directly, as the propaganda theorists feared. Instead, their influence was itself mediated—watered down, perhaps, but certainly tempered—by these influential leaders.

The model looked like this: Media —-à Opinion Leaders —-à Voting Public

Joseph Klapper Makes His Statement

Katz and Lazarsfeld, Klapper (1960) concluded that media influences on society were small to modest. People had acquired strong preexisting attitudes before they came to media. They were members of reference groups, like the family, religious organizations, and labor unions. These groups generally exerted a stronger impact on attitudes than did mass media. The media were not the sole or primary agent that influenced political attitudes and behavior. Instead, Klapper emphasized, media worked together with social environmental factors, contributing to or reinforcing the effects these other agents exerted. This became known as the limited effects model.


Social science is employed to develop a body of knowledge of the role that political communication plays in society (Holbert & Bucy, 2011). To be sure, the social scientific approach is not the only way to approach the study of politics and media.

Social science cannot answer “should” questions. It cannot tell us whether limits should be placed on campaign spending or, alternatively, if a hands-off approach is better for democracy.

Political communication is a diverse discipline, enriched by different approaches. A social scientific perspective emphasizes that questions are explored systematically through the articulation of theories, posing of hypotheses, and hypothesis-testing.


The cornerstone of hypothesis-testing is research methodology. We test hypotheses through a variety of empirical methods. Content analyses, experiments, and surveys are major strategies scholars use to test predictions and advance knowledge of political communication. Each has strengths and shortcomings.



In political communication research methods. Content analyses, surveys, and experiments are conducted with more precision and real-world flair. A host of other techniques, including focus groups, deliberative discussion analysis, and psychophysiological measures, have been developed and refined, generating new insights on political communication.


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Theory & Different Basic Mass Communication Theories

Mass Communication Theory Foundations, Ferment, and Future

Review of Chaper 1:


When an organization (Source) employs  a technology as a medium to communicate with a large audience, mass communication is said to have occurred.


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 rather than an observable action)? What is three pounds of tendency to hold conservative political views or sixteen point seven millimeters of patriotism?

Human behavior is exceedingly complex. Human behavior does not easily lend itself to causal description. It is easy to identify a single factor that causes water to boil. But it has proved impossible to isolate single factors that serve as the exclusive cause of important actions of human behavior. Human behavior may simply be too complex to allow scientists to ever fully untangle the different factors that combine to cause observable actions.

Humans have goals and are self-reflexive. We do not always behave in response to something that has happened; very often we act in response to something we hope or expect will happen. Moreover, we constantly revise our goals and make highly subjective determinations about their potential for success or failure.

We want to know how things work, what makes things happen. As much as we might like to be thrilled by horror movies or science fiction films in which physical laws are continually violated, we trust the operation of these laws in our daily lives. But we often resent causal statements when they are applied to ourselves.


Theory Any organized set of concepts, explanations, and principles of some aspect of human experience.


This theory is based on empirical observation guided by the scientific method, but it recognizes that humans and human behavior are not as constant as elements of the physical world. The goals of postpositivist theory are explanation, prediction, and control (and in this you can see the connection between this kind of social science and the physical sciences).


hermeneutic theory is the study of understanding, especially through the systematic interpretation of actions or texts. Hermeneutics originally began as the study or interpretation of the Bible and other sacred works. As it evolved over the last two centuries, it maintained its commitment to the examination of “objectifications of the mind”


Critical theory is openly political (therefore its axiology is aggressively value-laden). It assumes that by reorganizing society, we can give priority to the most important human values. Critical theorists study inequality and oppression. Their theories do more than observe, describe, or interpret; they criticize. Critical theories view “media as sites of (and weapons in) struggles over social, economic, symbolic, and political power (as well as struggles over control of, and access to, the media themselves)”. Critical theory’s epistemology argues that knowledge is advanced only when it serves to free people and communities from the influence of those more powerful than themselves. Its ontology, however, is a bit more complex.


Theory explaining how a media system should operate in order to conform to or realize a set of ideal social values.


“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”. 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.

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