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Lecture 1

CS203 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Hypodermic Needle Model, Electric Light, Technological Determinism

Communication Studies
Course Code
Greigory De Peuter

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Conceptualizing Communication
What is communication studies?
1. The eld of Communication Studies
What study is key in global change today
“there is no more clarity about communications as a professional eld than as
a research eld…” (Calhoun, 2011, 14940
ICA: International Communication Association
Relatively young discipline
Diversity topics, diversity of research
“We might embrace our Mercurian identity… --Mercury being the roman god
of trade, travel, and rogues and of course communication. Mercurians… are
minorities who inhabit the in between spaces and specialize in productive
and dangerous trades. There are certain advantages to being a minor player.
You can learn many tongues from all over…”(John Durham)
Real world problems do not come sorted like discipline
When faced with task of communicating in the disciple of communication we
shouldn’t be satised
We have to take on the challenge of asking our self-what’s di6erent with all
these subelds
Paul Lazarsfeld (1941) “Remarks on Administrative and critical
communication research” studies in philosophy and social science 9(1)
Administrative Research
A good deal of present day communication research is administrative: polling
and market surveys, audience ratings, copy testing, focus groups,
demographics analysis, motivational research...”(babe,2000,15)
Critical Research
Critical research tackles the big issues
Wider social context
Doesn’t take status quo seriously
Looks how media and communicative practices, looks to reinforces and
perpetuate the existing status quo
How did communication structure work with other social, economic and
cultural structures to order society?
Putting ones values front and center is what it’s all ab
The interplay of communication and power
Power is not equally distributed in society
Understand how dominant systems empower work
Or how they may be transformed to greater equality democracy, freedom
Political economy

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Media systems and communication policies reinforce or challenge existing
class structures 9status quo)
Media ownership – who owns the media?
Look at labour practices
Cultural Studies
Research in a cultural studies interest various ways how audience engage
with media
Construction of media
Draws attention to social dynamics beyond class ex. Age, race, gender
2. Meaning of Communication
The transmission view of communication is “dened by terms such as
“Imparting”, “sending”, “Transmitting” or “giving information to others”
(Carey, 2009, p.12)
“The movement of foods and people and the movement of information were
seen as essentially identical processes and both we described…as
communication.” (Carey, 2009, 12)
Over distance for the purpose of control”
Shannon & Weaver model Encode – channel – noise – channel – decode
oCriticisms of the model
oFails to provide “consideration of the larger social context of
o“The source is seen as the active decision maker…; the destination is
the passive target”
Decoding positions
oStuart Hall, “Encoding/Decoding”
oFounding gure of the eld of “Cultural Studies”
Hypodermic needle model
oA mechanistic and unsophisticated model of the media-audience
relationship, which sees the media as “injecting” values, ideas and
information directly into each individual in a passive and atomized
audience, thereby producing a direct and unmediated e6ect”
(O’Sullivan et al. 1994, p.137)
“there is no necessary correspondence between encoding and decoding, the
former can attempt to “pre-fer” but cannot prescribe or guarantee the latter
(Hall, 1993, p.100)
Give the person who decodes the message more agents
“Meaning-making is not central (in the transmission model of
communication) is… assumed that meaning is contained in the message
rather than its interpretation, but there is no single, xed meaning in any
message. We bring varying attitudes, expectation and understanding to
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