COMN 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Chilling Effect, Post-Structuralism, Narrowcasting

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Communication
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Social theory: a way of representing an event. A set of tenets and ideas that provides a
systematic explanation social relationships.
Purpose: to provide explanations for how and why things are the way they are. To guide action
(social, policy, Improve quality of life).
Marx: The purpose of theory not simply to explain the world but to change it.
Problem: Social world too complex for the complete explanation hence, social scientists break it
chunks. Several steps:
1) Define field study (ex. sociology, psychology, communication).
Each approaches the world in different ways; makes a value judgement about what aspects of
the social world to study.
2) Define approach to that field
Liberal? Institutional? critical? technological determinist?
Keep in mind there are many different ways to looks at the world…
What is communication? What is “mass communication”
“Communication” is from the Latin communist,” meaning “to make common”. Hence,
“communication” is a form of action the action of making something common to one or more
people…
“Mass” means “large group”
Hence, the term “mass communication” simply means “making something common among a
large group”.
Mass communication plays a role in many different dimensions of our lives.
Individual role/dimension (involved in the creation of individual identity).
Mass communication is a central feature of social life and has influence in almost every
dimension of our lives. A key element of our whole way of life…
What is a communication “medium” ?
It’s a vehicle through which the exchange of information takes place…
Many different kinds of communication “mediums” such as: Radio TV, newspapers, Internet.
But also: Stained glass, architecture, language, etc.
Innis and McLuhan see three broad types of media:
Oral
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Communication
Literate
Electronic
Claim: Using different forms of communication encourages people to think and act in different
ways…
Oral Society — has a “time blast” (society is close knit b/c knowledge is invested in individual).
-Provides for a stable, adaptable culture with ideas and knowledge generated for use in
specific place (eg. medicinal plants, building materials.)
Literate Society “space bias” meaning that the medium tends to blind people together in
space (books, transportable, spread knowledge and technique).
-by building on ideas tends to encourage common ways of doing things across space (linear
and sequential forms of thinking)
Electronic Society (radio, television, telephone, computers, satellites) connects and interacts
in multiple points across great distance. Tends to break down social barriers and traditional
roles, creates new relationships across space.
Sept. 22nd.
Notes (tutorial) : Space bias is Literate, it’s about expanding the culture. Time Bias is Oral
cultures, it would be to preserve the culture. Time, Moral, Space, Literate.
Public Sphere, it’s a concept. An idea that in a democratic society we may hypothetically debate
and discuss about society.
2 models of communication.
Lecture 1
What is Social Theory?
-a way of representing the world, a “model” of the world (or elements of it)
-a set of tenets and ideas that provides a systematic explanation social relationships
Purpose
-to provide explanations for how and why things are the way they are.
- to guide action (eg. social policy, improve quality of life)
Marx: The purpose of theory not simply to explain the world but to change it.
Problem: social world too complex for complete explanation Hence, social scientists break it chunks.
Several steps:
i) Define field of study (eg. sociology, psychology, communication)
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Communication
Each approaches the world in different ways; makes a value judgment about what aspects of the social
world to study.
ii) Define Approach to that Field
liberal? institutional? critical? technological determinist?
Keep in mind there are many different ways to look at the world…
What is communication? What is “mass communication?”
“communication” is from the Latin “communist,” meaning “to make common”
Hence, “communication” is a form of action the action of making something common to one or more
people…
“Mass” means “large group”
Hence, the term “mass communication” simply means “making something common among a large group”
Hence “communication” is a “social action” involving 2 or more people in a process of “encoding” and
“decoding” or “creating” and “interpreting” messages.
Mass communication plays a role in many different dimensions of our lives… (pps 34-40 of G, S, L)
1) social role/dimension (a kind of “social glue” e.g. music, newspaper, TV shows)
2)political role/dimension (how we are, or how we ought to be, governed.)
3)economic role/dimension (re: business and investment)
4)educational role/dimension (as individual/citizens, promotes general and specific understanding)
5)cultural role/dimension (means of understanding the values and ideas that underpin our “way of life” as
well as other groups of people)
6)individual role/dimension (involved in the creation of individual identity)
Mass communication is a central feature of social life and has influence in almost every dimension of our
lives. A key element of our whole way of life…
Harold Innis and Marshal McLuhan (Toronto School; pps 40-52) argue “form” or medium” of
communication can determine how society is organized and how people think about the world.
First: Q. What is a communication “medium”?”
A. Any vehicle through which the exchange of information takes place….
Many different kinds of communication “mediums” such as:
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