The Mass Media

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9 Feb 2011
Sociology November 3
, 2010.
Mass Media
Reading: NS ch. 5, SiQ ch. 10 @ p. 96, ch. 11 @ p. 106
The mass media refer to print, radio, television, and other communication technologies.
Mass implies that the media reach many people. “Media” signifies that communication
does not take place directly through face-to-face interaction. Instead, technology
intervenes or mediates in transmitting messages from senders to receivers. Fur thermore,
communication via the mass media is usually one way, or at least one-sided. There are
few senders (or producers) and many receivers (or audience members).
Why the Mass Media Grew
The Protestant Refor mation promoted literacy
-Bible first mass media product in the West
Democratic movements promoted mass involvement
-Citizens should be allowed to cote (representative government)
-People wanted to become literate
-Governments also encouraged literacy & education because lead to more
responsible voting
Capitalist industrialization promoted the search for profit
-Possible to earn a lot of money by being producer of mass media
Theories of Media Effects
Functionalist (coordination, socialization, social control, entertainment)
-As societies grow, they become more and more complex, more institutions
-Mass media has important effect in coordinating various parts of society
-Families are less impor tant now than they sued to be in transfer ring norms, ideas,
and beliefs
-Exercise social control over the population; mass media reinforces what kind of
people deserve rewards/punishment; mass media reinforces order, e.g. Jer r y
Springer serves as an agen4hhhhht to social control by reinforcing that inf idelity is
a hor rible thing, very conservative ideas
-Conf lict theorists believe functionalists exaggerate the degree to which the mass
media serves the interest of everyone
Conf lict (legitimation of injustice and inequality, source of profit)
-Mass media broadcasts beliefs, ideas
-Mass media ownership is highly concentrated amongst small number of people
and it is very highly oprofitabl e for them
-90% mass media is in private hand—fewer and fewer people control the media
Symbolic interactionist (audience interpretation)
Feminist (under- and misrepresentation of women and other minorities)
Horizontal organization – small organization tries to control as many areas a possible in
their field
Vertical integration – media f irms seek to control production in many fields
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