Potential Social Significance of the Media
1) Power (Hitler’s propaganda)
2) Social integration (Disintegration)
a. How the influence of media came to be interpreted was often a matter of
an observer’s personal attitudes to modern society and the degree of
optimism or pessimism in their social outlook.
3) Public Enlightenment (Positive usage of mass communication)
What were two of the indication s that the media had significant power in society?
First World War – National War aims of contending states.
Nazi Germany Propaganda on behalf of ruling party elites.
There is no less reliance on mass media in the sphere of advertising, public relations and
Moral Panic: There are successive instances of alarm relating to the media, whenever an
insoluble or inexplicable social problem arises. The most constant element has been a
negative perception of the media- especially the inclination to link media portrayals of
crime, sex, and violence with the seeming increase in social and moral disorder.
Large number of readers, viewers/ Widely dispersed / Non-interactive and anonymous
relations to each other / Heterogeneous composition / Not organized or self-acting / an
object of management or manipulation by the media.
Group: All members know each other, are aware of their common membership, share the
same values, have a certain structure of relationship which is stable over time, and
interact to achieve some purpose.
The Crowd: is larger but still restricted within observable boundaries in particular space.
It is, however temporary and rarely reforms with the same composition.
The Public: Relatively large, widely dispersed and enduring. It tends to form around an
issue or cause in public life, and its primary purpose is to advance an interest or opinion
and to achieve political change.
Non Traditional form and content / Intended for mass consumption / Mass produced and
formulaic / Pejorative image / Commercial / Homogenized
What is the underlying view and characteristics of society in the “dominant
ALiberal-Pluralist ideal of society.
The media have certain functions in society
Media effects on audiences are direct and linear.
Group relations and individual differences modify effects of media
Quantitative research and variable analysis
Media viewed either as a potential social problem or a means of persuasion Behaviorist and quantitative methods have primacy.
Briefly describe the three theoretical elements in the dominant paradigm:
Functionalism: Essential tasks performed for its maintenance. Communication
works towards the integration, continuity and order of society, although mass
communication also has potentially dysfunctional consequences. (eg. Surveys)
Information theory: concerned with the technical efficiency of communication
channels for carrying information. This process begins with a source that selects a
message, which is then transmitted, in the form of a signal, over a communication
channel, to a receiver, who transforms the signal back into a message for a destination.
Stimulus- response theory: Acombination of advances in mental measurement
and in statistical analysis appeared to offer new and powerful tools for achieving
generalized and reliable knowledge of previously hidden processes and states. (Affect of
media on how people are influenced psychologically)
What were the main aims of research in the dominant paradigm?
Improvement of the effectiveness of communication for legitimate ends or the assessment
of whether mass media are a cause of social problems.
What is the alternative, critical paradigm? How does this compare with the
dominant paradigm of communication research?
Critical view of society and rejection of value neutrality
Rejection of the transmission model of communication
Non- Deterministic view of media technology and messages
Adoption of an interpretative and constructionist perspective
Preference for cultural or political economic theories
Wide concern with inequality and sources of opposition in society.
One Critical (Motivated by strong value judgments of the media), the other
‘interpretative’or ‘qualitative’(More concerned with understanding).
Critical Paradigm: Inspired by Marxism and the Frankfurt School. The process of
communication being manipulative and oppressive.
Critical of the commercialization of mass media. Rejection on value neutrality.
1. What are the four sub categories of mass media?
Motion Picture and Sound Recording
2. In what way did print media change society? How did broadcasting influence
media consumption? Knowledge could be recorded for future generations in libraries or religious texts, and
social power increasingly hinged upon literacy and ownership of printed material.
It allowed for an unprecedented circulation of knowledge to far-flung citites across
Convergence: The tendency of formerly diverse media to share a common,
Mobility: Instead of going to media, media can come to or go with us virtually
Fragmentation: Decreasing production costs have greatly altered the economics of
the media industry, reducing the necessity for standardization. Resulting in an
increase in media channels and a fragmentation of output that caters to the increasing
diversity of the consuming public.
Globalization: Set of social, political, and economics processes in which the physical
boundaries and structural policies that previously reinforced the autonomy of the
nation state are collapsing in favor of instantaneous and flexible worldwide social
Simulation: The generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.
Socialization: Describes the process by which persons- both individually and
collectively, learn, adopt and internalize the prevailing cultural beliefs, values and
norms of a society. Because all social instititions are mediators, they all contribute to
-Mass Media filter virtually every aspect of our world, shaping both what we learn
and how we learn. (Since we experience things through symbols. Information are
translated from direct sensory experience into a set of symbols. )
4. Give three reasons why media content matters? Why is media form also
-Media establish which social issues are considered important and which are
-Content lacking a diversity of views and opinions significantly limits the scope of
public debate and deliberation on matters of social importance.
-Media content is communicated using symbols and all symbols are selective, media
content is necessarily biased. The Language and images used to inform, educate, and
entertain you also convey selective attitudes and beliefs.
5. Define the four characteristics of critical studies. Attitude: Skeptical – there is more at stake in mass media than initially meets the eye.
(eg. News broadcasting/ factors of one hour time block of news, decision of which news
is important/ understanding the pressures and practices that constrain it.)
Approach: Humanistic: Emphasizes self-reflection, critical citizenship and democratic
principles, it involves “thinking about freedom and responsibility and the contribution
that intellectual pursuit can make to the welfare of society.”
Assessment: Political: Practical and political implications of those findings, and thus
entail judgment. Determining whose interests are served by the media, and how those
interests contribute to domination, exploitation, and/ or asymmetrical relations of
Action: SocialActivism: Operate on the premise that scholarship should be action
oriented, that scholars have a social responsibility not only to identify injustice, but
also to confront and challenge it. They believe that it is incumbent upon citizens and
not just the government to hold big media accountable.
Pluralism is often used to Existence of inequalities The most dominant political
justify existing media No center of thought and policy in
policy arrangements. dominant influence in contemporary society.
political order power is Commits to democracy of