Chapter 18: (pgs. 455-475)
The Mass Media
1) The Significance of the Mass Media (pgs 455 – 460)
Illusion Becomes Reality
Example: American Psycho (2000)
o How people become victims of the mass media and consumerism; the main character
says he is “used to imagining everything happening the way it occurs in movies.”
o His murder victims are mere props in a movie in which he is the star. He feels no
empathy towards them than an actor does to objects on stage. The mass media have
completely emptied him he can’t even remember their names, but is so infused with
consumer values that he can completely remember their appearance (brand names and
The average Canadian spends more than 3 hours a day watching TV, over 2.5 hours
listening to the radio, and just under an hour reading magazines, newspapers, and books.
o Include the amount of time spend going to the movies, using the Internet, listening to
CDs, and playing video games = 40% of our time revolves around mass media.
We get ideas of how to dress, style our hair, and music to listen from mass media. Hopes,
aspirations, and dreams also come from mass media.
Marshall McLuhan (1960s): Coined term ‘global village’ said that the media are extensions
of the human body and mind.
What Are the Mass Media?
Mass media: Print, radio, television, and other communication technologies. The word
mass implies that the media reach many people. The word media signifies that
communication does not take place directly through face-to-face interaction.
Majority of audience cannot exert much influence on the mass media; can only either tune
in or tune out.
o Tuning out excludes you from “new” styles, news, gossip, and entertainment.
o We’re not passive consumers of media we filter, interpret and resist what we see and
hear if it contradicts our experiences and beliefs.
The Rise of the Mass Media
Most mass media are recent inventions, such as the print media.
19 Century - 1955: Print media
o Long-distance communication such as horses, railroad, or ship was costly and
sometimes had deadly impacts for not receiving messages on time.
Example: Battle of New Orleans
1844: Samuel Morse sent first telegraphic signal. Long-distance communication no longer
required physical transport.
1920s: First commercial television broadcasts
1991: Internet and World Wide Web Chapter 18: (pgs. 455-475)
The Mass Media
Causes of Media Growth
Three main factors, one religious, one political, and one economic:
1. The Protestant Reformation: Started by Martin Luther’s protest on certain
practices in the church and said that people should gain a more personal
relationship with the bible. He developed a new form of Christianity, Protestantism.
To spread this information of Protestantism, the Bible was the first mass media
product in the West and by far the best-selling book.
Lead to some of the most significant inventions such as Johannes
Gutenberg’s inventions of the printing press. It enabled the widespread
diffusion and exchange of ideas. Also contributed to the rise of modern
2. Democratic Movements: Citizens of countries demanded representation in
government, while also wanting to become literate and gain access to previously
restricted centres of learning. The democratic government encourage popular
literacy and the growth of a free press.
Television and other mass media mould our entire outlook on politics, mostly
evident in the 1960 US presidential election the first televised presidential
debate. Radio does not see what television can broadcast produce “image
Claimed that television and other mass media over-simplify politics.
3. Capitalist Industrialization: Modern industries needed a literate and numerate
workforce, while also needing rapid means of communication to do business
The mass media shape perceptions of reality.
Print media dominated until the mid-twentieth century. Since then, electronic media have
The Protestant Reformation and the growth of democracy and capitalism were the major factors
underlying the growth of the mass media. Chapter 18: (pgs. 455-475)
The Mass Media
2) Theories of Media Effects (pgs 461 – 470)
Face-to-face interaction became less viable as a means of communication.
o As a result, the need increases for new means of coordinating the operation of the
various parts of society.
The nationwide distribution of newspapers, magazines, movies, television, and Internet
cements the large, socially diverse and geographically far-flung population of Canada.
o The nation is an imagined community, and the mass media make it possible for us to
According to the functionalist theory, there are four functions mass media donates:
1. The mass media coordinates the operation of industrial and post-industrial
2. The mass media are important agents of socialization.
o Example: Instead of families teaching their children norms, values, and
culture, the mass media has stepped in. They reinforce shared ideals of
democracy, competition, justice, and so forth.
3. The mass media provides social control by ensuring conformity.
o Example: Lots of shows revolve around crime, some of which demonstrate
rewards for heroes and punishments for the villains.
4. The mass media provides entertainment.
o Mass media gives up pleasure, relaxation, and momentary escape from
reality, by relieving stress without threatened the social order.
Focuses on the social inequality fostered by the mass media; some people benefit more
from the mass media than others do.
The mass media favour the interests of dominant classes and political groups, and there are
two ways in which they do disproportionately.
1. They broadcast beliefs, values, and ideas that create widespread acceptance of the
basic structure of society, including its injustice and inequalities.
2. Ownership of mass media is highly concentrated in the hands of a small number of
people and it’s highly profitable for them.
The degree of media concentration has changed: Currently about 90% of mass media
in Canada are privately owned fewer and fewer people control Canada’s mass
media with every passing decade.