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The Different Eras of

MASS COMMUNICATION
THEORIES
Communication
Theories
– explanations and predictions of
social phenomena that attempt to
relate mass communication to
various aspects of our personal and
cultural lives or social systems.
Communication
Theories

1.there is no one mass


communication theory.
2. these theories are often
borrowed from other fields of
science.
3. mass communication theories are
A SHORT HISTORY OF MASS
COMMUNICATION THEORY
-The Era of Mass Society
Theory
The idea that the media are
corrupting influences that
undermine the social order and that
‘average’ people are defenseless
against their influence.

ex: hypodermic needle theory/magic


bullet theory

1945-1975
A SHORT HISTORY OF MASS
COMMUNICATION THEORY
-The Era of the Scientific
Perspective
Limited effects
2 step flow theories

1938-1945
A SHORT HISTORY OF MASS
COMMUNICATION THEORY
The Era of Limited Effects
Theory
Attitude Change Theory
Dissonance theory – argues that
when confronted by new/conflicting info.,
people experience a kind of mental
discomfort.
selective exposure
selective retention
selective perception

1945-1975
A SHORT HISTORY OF MASS
COMMUNICATION THEORY
The Era of Limited Effects
Theory
Reinforcement theory – church,
family and school
The Uses & Gratifications
Approach – claimed that mdia do no do
things to people, rather people do thins
with media
Agenda Setting – argues that
media may not tell us what to think, but
1960
A SHORT HISTORY OF MASS
COMMUNICATION THEORY
The Era of Limited Effects
Theory
Dependency Theory
-the basis of media’s influence resides in the
relationship between the larger social system,
the media’s role in that system and audience
relationships to the media

-the degree of our dependence on media and


their content is the ‘key variable in
understanding when and why media messages
alter audience beliefs, feelings or behaviors.
1960
A SHORT HISTORY OF MASS
COMMUNICATION THEORY
The Era of Limited Effects
Theory
Dependency Theory
-in our modern industrial society we are
increasingly dependent on media to understand
the social world, to act meaningfully and
effectively in society and to find fantasy and
escape or diversion.

-our level of dependency is related to the


number and centrality of the specific
information-delivery served by a medium and
the degree of change and conflict present1960
in
A SHORT HISTORY OF MASS
COMMUNICATION THEORY
The Era of Limited Effects
Theory

Social Cognitive Theory


-people learn through observation (imitation
and identification)
A SHORT HISTORY OF MASS
COMMUNICATION THEORY
The Era of Cultural Theory
Symbolic Interactionism
-people give things meaning, and that
meaning controls their behavior.

1975-
A SHORT HISTORY OF MASS
COMMUNICATION THEORY
The Era of Cultural Theory
Social Construction of Reality
- argues that people who share a culture
also share ‘an ongoing correspondence’ of
meaning. Things generally mean the same to
me as they do to you.
A SHORT HISTORY OF MASS
COMMUNICATION THEORY
1. The Era of Cultural
Theory
Cultivation Analysis
- says that TV cultivates or
constructs a reality of the world that,
although possible inaccurate, becomes
accepted simply because we as a culture
believe it to be true.

TV is essentially and fundamentally


different from other mass media
TV is the ‘central cultural arm” of US
society. It is the culture’s primary story
A SHORT HISTORY OF MASS
COMMUNICATION THEORY
The Era of Cultural Theory
Cultivation Analysis

3. The realities cultivated by TV are not


necessarily specific attitudes and opinions
but rather more basic assumptions about
the ‘facts of life’.
A SHORT HISTORY OF MASS
COMMUNICATION THEORY
The Era of Cultural Theory
Cultivation Analysis

4. The major cultural function of television


is to stabilize social patterns.

5. The observable, measurable


contributions of television to the culture
are relatively small.