Mass media – definition and research perspectives
- Traditional definition: means by which few sources communicate meanings
unindirectionally to an anonymous, unconnected audience.
- Revised definition: means of unidirectional and bidirectional communication
among large numbers of people.
- Elements of mass media communication: production (ownership and
regulation), content, effects.
- Main research perspectives:
1. Technological deterministic: analyzes the impact of different media
technologies on social life;
2. Neo-Marxist (critical): analyzes production (Young: political economy),
content (Young: cultural studies) and effects of mass media from the point of
view of class relations;
3. Reception: audiences interpret and use the content according to their previous
Cultural studies perspective
- Gained popularity with the “cultural turn” of the 1980s – a phenomenological,
micro-focused, non-structural approach.
- Today, “cultural studies” approach includes neo-Marxist (e.g. Hall), feminist,
symbolic interactionist, and post-modernist (deconstructivist) research
- Henry Jenkins. 1992. Textual Poaches: Television Fans and Participatory Culture
- Jean Beaudrillard. 1992. La guerre du Golfe n’a pas eu lieu
- Paul Virilio. 1991. L’écran du désert
- Technology has its own logic of development and an inevitable influence on
media and society. This influence cannot be stopped or modified by social
- Critique: choice and success of technologies are influenced by
1. Social structure (e.g. monopolization; privatization of Internet access;
commercialization of art; state policies); and
1 Marshall McLuhan “The medium is the message.”
- A Canadian example of technological determinism.
- Dominant media in a society influence habits of thought (conceptions of time
and space) in the audience
- Print: linear mode of thinking, detachment, discipline and effort to receive
information, objectivity, a need for exposition, logic and sequence.
- Visual media: imagery, narrative, simultaneity (non-linear mode of thinking),
detachment, immediate gratification, quick emotional response.
- Mass media are a means by which dominant classes make profit and
consolidate political power.
- Hermann and Chomsky: the mass media rein