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COMM 3372 (2)
Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Notes

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COMM 3372
Bruce Morrison

Mass Communication Theory  Chapter 2 Notes • Propaganda- no-holds-barred use of communication to propagate specific belief and understandings o Developed after WWI o Threatened to undermine the US political system and democratic government everywhere • White propaganda- intentional suppression of potentially harmful information and ideas combined with deliberate promotion of positive information or ideas to distract attention away from problematic events o Use propaganda to fight “bad” propaganda o Promote what the elite saw as good o Use some techniques today in advertising, political communication and public relations o Must be coming from an outside source MASS SOCIETY CRITICS AND THE DEBATE OVER MEDIA • Conservative critics interpreted the rise of media industries as threatening every other social institution o people were not as accustomed to dealing with communication changes • Mass society theory is actually many different theories which share similar assumptions o Thinking about theory page 34 – pink tab ASSUMPTIONS OF MASS SOCIETYTHEORY • Elites saw mass media as everything wrong with society • ASSUMPTION 1 o Media subvert essential norms and values and threaten the social order o Elite control is necessary  This argument won during the 1920s in Europe • Hitler—Germany • ASSUMPTION 2 o Direct-effects assumption  Media can act independently of all other things that influence people in their daily lives • ASSUMPTION 3 o Once media transform people’s thinking, all sorts of bad long-term consequences result  Ruin individual lives and create societal problems on a vast scale • ASSUMPTION 4 o Average people are vulnerable to media because they are cut off and isolated from traditional social institutions that previously protected them from manipulation  Idealized the past  Hold romantic vision • Compelling arguments Mass Communication Theory  o When put in big cities from rural communities, media can suddenly replace communication that replaces messages from social institutions • ASSUMPTION 5 o Social chaos created by media will be resolved by the establishment of a totalitarian social order  Developed during the 1930s  Peak of popularity in the US in the 1950s • ASSUMPTION 6 o Mass media inevitably debase higher forms of culture, bringing around a general decline in civilization  Enlightenment th • 18 century European social philosophical movement stressing rational thought and progress through science  following this time elites saw themselves as responsible for nurturing a higher sense of culture  became very racialized and sexist • white male, western anglo-saxon, protestant EARLY EXAMPLES OF MASS SOCIETY THEORY • purple tab page 39 • Ferdinand Tönnies o German scientologist o One of the originators of mass society notions o 1887 book- Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft  dichotomy  gemeinschaft- in Tönnies’s conception, traditional folk cultures • dense network of personal relationships • face-to-face contact • norms largely unwritten • mutual interdependence • Most people want order and meaning provided by folk communities  gesellschaft- in Tönnies’s conception, modern industrial society • weak social institutions based on rational choices rather than tradition • social relationships, more impersonal • less morally obligated to one another • media criticized as breaking down folk communities and encouraging the development of amoral, weak social institutions MECHANICALAND ORGANIC SOLIDARITY (PURPLE 40) • DIVISION OF LABOR IN SOCIETY o Émile Durkhein Mass Communication Theory   French sociologist  Same dichotomy as Tönnies but fundamentally different interpretation of modern social order o Folk Communities as machines  People as cogs  Machines ordered and durable o Mechanical solidarity- folk cultures bound by consensus and traditional social roles o Modern social orders as animals  As animals grow they undergo profound changes in physical form  Made of many different parts with different purposes o Organic solidarity- modern social orders bound by culturally negotiated social
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