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COMM 3372 (2)
Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Notes

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Department
Communication
Course
COMM 3372
Professor
Bruce Morrison
Semester
Spring

Description
Mass Communication Theory  Chapter 1 Notes Understanding and Evaluating Mass Communication Theory • Grand theory – designed to explain entire media systems and their role in society • does not only apply to media • other theories are narrowly focused and provide insight into specific areas  mass communication- when a source, typically an organization employs a technology as a medium to communicate with a large audience. • Ex NYT uses printing presses and newspapers to reach readers. o NYT – organization o Printing press- technology o Newspaper- medium o Readers- large audience • The environment of mass comm is changing o Mediated communication- comm between few or many people with technology as the medium o Interpersonal communication- comm between two or more people usually face-to- face o Message content is controlled by the organization but the audience is active in interpreting the message individually. • Science and human behavior o Social scientists are the naysayers of the world  Leave us suspicious • Apply logic and observation (science)  Tv corrupts morals  Parents rely on tv to babysit kids  Tv campaigns leave us cynical o Physical scientists are dreamers, fixers  The future • Brought us TV, cells, photos, etc. o Causality- when a given factor influences another even by an intervening variable o Causal relationship- when alterations of a particular variable under specific conditions always produces the same result. o Scientific method- search for truth through accurate observation and interpretation of fact  Hypothesis- testable prediction of some event.  Empirical- capable of being verified or disproved by observation  Karl Popper • The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1939) o Foundation of scientific method Mass Communication Theory   Defs. On page 8&9 Scientific method in the social world is complicated because there are difficulties with applying it to the social world. • No two individuals see news stories the same because each individual is affected by each experience. o Difficult to keep consistency in testing o Can change behavior/response • Most significant and interesting forms of human behavior are difficult to measure o Impossible to isolate single factors that are the exclusive cause to human behavior  Many factors influence and affect individuals differently • Humans have goals and are self-reflexive o Revise/make new goals o Reflect on decisions/actions The simple notion of causality is sometimes troubling when it is applied to our self • We are curious by nature • Trust physical laws • Resent causal statements when we apply them to ourselves • Third-person effect- media affects others but not me o Others are not as smart as I am Defining theory • Theory- any organized set of concepts, explanations and principles of some aspect of human experience o Stories about how and why events occur  As defined by Stephen Littlejohn and Karen Foss o An idea that explains an event or behavior  As defined by Griffin o Describes, rationale, causality • 4 major categories of Comm theory 1. Postpositivism • Theory based on empirical observation guided by scientific method 2. Cultural theory 3. Critical theory 4. Normative theory • All differ in their: o ontology- The nature of reality; what is knowable o epistemology- how knowledge is created and expanded o axiology- the proper role of human values in research and theory building Postpositivism • knowledge gained through observable, measurable phenomena • recognizes humans and their behavior are not as constant as the physical world • Goals: Mass Communication Theory  o Explanation, prediction, control • Ontology: o Accepts the world exists apart form our perceptions of it o Human behavior is systematically predictable • Epistemology (gold tab page 14) o Knowledge is advanced through systematic, logical search for regularities ad causal relationships. o Advances come when there is  Intersubjective agreement – when members of a research community arrive at similar conclusions about a social phenomenon. • Axiology o Orange tab page 14 Cultural theory - • Seeking to understand contemporary culture by analyzing the structure and content of their communication • Origin in hermeneutic theory o The study of understanding especially by interpreting action and text  Social and textual o Social hermeneutics  Seeks to understand how those in an observed social situation interpret their own place in the situation • Cultural theory also referred to as interpretive theory – seeks to interpret the meaning of o Text- any product of social interaction that serves as a source of understanding or meaning  Books, magazines, movies, tweets • Ontology (green tab page 15) o No truly measurable social reality o We create an image based on biases and prejudices as well as experiences • Epistemology o Knowledge is local o Subjective between the observer and the community • Axiology o Embraces the influence of researchers and theorists Critical theory – (nonrepresentational) • Seeks transformation of a dominant social order in order to achieve desired values • Openly political • Reorganize society to give priority to the most important human values • Study oppression and inequality (criticize) • Epistemology o Knowledge is only advanced when used to free those who are under the influence of those more powerful Mass Communication Theory   Emancipatory knowledge • What is real, what is knowabl
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