CMNS 130 Midterm Notes
Mass Media General Concepts:
Concept of mass: unorganized/ isolated/irrational/
Large number of viewers/ widely dispersed/
Non- interactive and anonymous relation to each other
An Object of management or manipulation by the media.
Mass Communication Process:
Mass Society + Mass Media = Mass Communication
Large content distribution and reception
One direction flow (Asymmertical relationship between sender and audience)
Economically :Market relationship with audience (Standardization and commodification
Mass Media as Institution:
Production and distribution of information and culture
Media acquires functions and responsibilities in the “public sphere” that are overseen by
Aspecific period of history : Modernity (1789-1970s)
Aperiod characterized by colonialism, revolution, industrialization, Urbanization.
“The masses” is used positively and negatively. They are blamed for fascism and
With Communication studies, there is always a POWER relation+ distribution
(Who has power/who is being influenced?)
“Communication is the mechanism by which power is exerted” (Schacter, 1951)
Moral Panic: Irrational Panic of introduction of a new technology.
Public Sphere: German philosopher Jurgen Habermas claims that the 18 and 19h th
centuries saw the creation of a “public sphere”. It is “domain in our social life where such
a thing as a public opinion can be formed.” The public sphere develops in places like
theaters, art, coffee house, novels, and literary criticism. Habermas says it is “an arena
independent of government, enjoying autonomy from partisan economic forces, which is
both accessible to entry and open to inspection” The stronger the public sphere, the more
democratic/ the more independent government.”
Regulatory Regime: Policy is “a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by
government, party, business, or individual” or “political actions designed to promote
more general ways of organizing public life “ (Des Freeman)
Media Policies: The legal and regulatory framework that govern communication. CRTC
(Canadian Radio Television Telecommunication Commission) and FCC (Federal
Communication Commission) Vaudeville:
Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment popular in the United States
and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Types of acts included popular
and classical musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, female and
male impersonators, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-cat plays or scenes from
plays, athletes, lecturing celebrities, ministries, and movies. Vaudeville theatre was pre-
Mainstream/ Dominant Models of Mass Communication Research.
Paradigm:Away analyzing media/ Perspective
Dominant Paradigm- How Media should control/ manipulate people.
Set of assumptions that dominate mass communication.
Hyperdermic Needle (1930) Two –Step Flow (1950s) Use and Gratification(1960s)
1. Hypo-dermic Needle Model.
Harold D. Lasswell is the most important figure associated with this tradition.
Mass Media “injects” its message into the audience, any messages is believable by the
mass it is precise, basic and direct but underestimated audiences’thinking ability.
Sender Receiver. (eg. Television, radio, newspaper. Traditional media)
2. Functionalist Model. (The theory of limited effects)
The two step flow model communication takes notice of the role of opinion leader who
receive, interpret, and redistribute the original message to large number of people. (eg.
Twitter and followers)
Associated with functionalist sociology where comparison is made between equilibrium
in societies and homestasis in organisms. They developed a model which replaced the
hypodermic needle model by the 1950s;.
1)Not every audience is prepared to receive the message
2)The public gets the mass information indirectly, therefore, no immediate response.
3) Depends on the opinion leader/ different media and content/ audiences would have
SenderOpinion leader Receiver.
3.Use and gratification theory.
Power shifts to the audience. Diversity and audience and commodities.
Individual responses to mass media are different.
Media focuses on how the audiences select information/gives us opinion, and then, sell
stuff to the masses.
Critical Perspectives: Concerned that democracy/ freedom movements were not being realized
Concerned with unequal relations of power, especially economic power
Example: Frankfurt School (Max Hokheimer, TheodorAdorno, Walter Benjamin, Herbert
Marcuse) Criticizing and analysis capitalism’s culture and media.
Concerns about who holds the power in media?
---Current Media system represent interests of those in power
---The policy process excludes some groups
---The market is an unfair way of organizing media
---Solution is non-market, non-state information and media
---Believes in power of social movements to achieve this
Key Concepts in Critical Perspective
Society is divided or stratified- the illusion of consensus is maintained in the
midest of inherent and structural conflict of interest
Power is concentrated, unevenly distributed with certain elites or structures of
Media are both constituting and the result of these differential power relations.
o Media has a role in shaping the whole ideological environment—in
legitimizing the social order
In conclusion, media only represnts the interests of the rich and powerful.
Liberal – Deomocratic Pluralist Perspectives:
The more the media, the better it represents the mass’voice.
Goal: Mutually dependant surivial / co- exist
Based on the recognition of group diversity and the attempt to maximize the productivity
of group bargaining to achieve social cohesion.
Media is the result of negotiation between many different groups in society.
Government should make the rules about media, but it needs to list