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University of Leicester - Faculty of Mass Communication New Media and Society - Distance Learning 1st Assignment

Option
1
How has communication research related to communication policy historically? What is the basis and relevance of distinctions between policy research and policy-oriented research made in Unit 2 of Module 1 by James Halloran? Word count: 2463

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where I argue about the necessity of a relation between communication research and communication policy. “policy research” aims to the improvement of the media policy from the perspective of the media interests. which “questions” and “challenges” these policies (Halloran 2005. Finally. in order to provide unbiased recommendations for the media policy. I come to the conclusion that communication research should be ideally independent from the interests of the media industry and should –ideally. In this sense. The main points of these views are summarized in the subsequent part of the paper. . It presents shortly most dominant communication research tendencies and their main characteristics. The theoretical background of the research traditions presented in this paper will be only briefly mentioned. Gitlin 1978). in opposition to “policy-oriented research”.be concerned with the role of the media in the society. The definitions of “policy research” and “policy-oriented research” relay on the distinction made by James Halloran (Halloran 2005) and refer to the motivations and aimnjhmmopyt8 ‘’s of the research. Halloran and T.2 Introduction This paper attempts to examine the relation of communication research to communication policy from the early 20th century and upwards. Gitlin (Halloran 2005. based on the critical views expressed by J. and continues with their classification into the categories of policy research and policyoriented research. Gitlin 1978).

However. The early media research took place within this social-economic framework. This conference resulted in the establishment of a committee for the organization of the future communication research and in the establishment of the first centre of media research in the University of Leicester. (Downing 1995). 2005). (Halloran 2005). when the Home Secretary in 1961 called a conference on the impact of television in juvenile delinquency. The social context of that time was influenced of the rapid industrialization. This awareness prompted researchers to address the impact of media in the social processes and inspired several social theories under which the research took place (Hardt 1992). the research tradition of which had its outcome more the 20 years before the European (Halloran 1963 cited in Halloran. In America the media research began in the early 20th century. Because the media were concentrated in few and powerful corporations. The orientation of the American media research differed from the ideals and views of European. which were mainly interested in gaining and keeping their audience.3 Origins
of
communication
research The origins of communication research in Europe were set in the early '60s in Great Britain. the American support was necessary. given the lack of comparable research experience in the Europe (Halloran 2005). the research focused on issues and questions that interested the media industry. under the influence of the sociological . Soon the committee realized that it lacked satisfactory resources and infrastructure to handle such research projects and turned to America. the urbanization and the awareness of the great social changes taking place.

The research was mainly initiated and supported by the media industry and served its particular interests. 458 ff) the tradition of Media Effects experienced 4 phases: 1. stemming from the field of psychology (Boyd-Barrett 1995. During this period the media are regarded is be all-powerful and to have a strong influence on the audience. pluralism and functionalism and the theory of behaviourism. The approach of Media Effects enhanced with new findings in behavioural psychology and sociology and turned its attention to the audience. who are mainly passive and vulnerable to the images and impressions it is exposed to. (Mc Quail 2005.4 theories of mass culture. (2005. ranging from the early 20th century until 1930. Newbold 2005). Newbold 2005). (Boyd-Barrett 2001) Media
Effects According to McQail. its ability to choose and its power of influencing the media through its wishes and expectations from them. 1930 to 1960. The phase of the powerfulness of the media. It focused on the media and their direct influence on the audience. 2. ranging from ca. The media influence was taken for granted and was regarded as isolated from other processes that could affect the audiences’ attitudes and behaviour. In this theoretical context the theory of Uses and Gratifications was born. hence the name of the research tradition describing it. The phase of no or minimum effects. the tradition of Media Effects. p. At the same time the doctrine of direct effects of the media on the .

23) 3. The phase of the negotiated effects. they decide what will be presented to the public as important and worthy to be announced (Newbold 2005). 17. filters them according to the direct effects of its social context and composes its own meanings. the theories based on Media Effects continue to focus on the media as factors isolated of the social environment in which they exist and operate. Despite the changes. The audience receives the meanings. however. of the “opinion leaders” and of the personal relationships among the members of the audience. The phase of rediscovery of the powerfulness of the media. a theory known as “Two step flow”. (Chris Newbold. Although the theories of the “hypodermic needle” (the media are seen as a powerful and harmful needle in the veins of the audience. Newbold 2005) were gradually abandoned under the influence of new . ranging from 1960 until approximately the end of the 70s. It considers the ability of the media to structure meanings. As the name of the theory indicates. ranging from the late 1970s and onwards. (Halloran 2005). The impact of media is reviewed in the light of their effects on society and not on the individual. p. 1995.5 individual is abandoned. which they offer to the audience. the main assumption is that the media set the agenda. 28-31). Newbold 2005) or “magic bullet” (same theory described so because of the assumed direct effects of the media. At its place comes the belief in the power of the primary groups. In this period the theory of “agenda setting” is formulated (Newbold 2005. The theory of “Spiral of silence” and the “Cultivation theory” belong to this stream (Newbold. 22. Mc Quail 2005). in other words. 2005. 16. p. 4.

But the most significant difference between the critical and the conventional approach is the formers’ independence of the media policy. The same holistic approach applies also for the audience. which is seen within its social. economic and interpersonal environment. the critical approach starts from the field of sociology and examines the role of the media in their social. Because of its strong concentration on the practices and the effects of the media. “Independence from the media policy” refers here to the concern of the critical research on issues that serve the public good and not the interest of the media industry and does not mean. as well as the research and evaluation methods used.6 sociological approaches. that research should take place for its own sake. the research based on the Media Effects is practically a policy research (Halloran 2005). As mentioned previously. “critical research” emerged as a new approach from the science of sociology in the 1960s (Halloran. were still within the restrictive framework of the administrative media theory. In this sense. without aim to provide answers. the . The perspective here is completely different. The research issues are not supposed to be answered using solely empirical research methods borrowed from the natural sciences (Halloran 2005). 2005). both as regards the issues considered to be researchworthy. economic and political context and in connection to other social institutions. cultural. the questions set and the evaluation methods used. Critical
Research In contrast to policy or conventional research.

The key aspects of each tradition. ownership and control in the media define the media policy and how this policy plays a role in the society. In this framework the political-economic research examines how the relations of power. also referred to as “ethnographic turn” (Hermes. Critical
research
traditions Considering the chief features of the research types described above. Cultural
studies The second tradition.7 critical research is not a policy research. Poli%cal
economy The political economy tradition studies the relations of production and power within the society and focuses on the economic background of these relations. p 33). It pays attention to media texts and how these . the tradition of cultural studies. from the point of their relevance to communication policy. including the media. and their relation to the social and power relations (Anna Gough Yates. The theoretical basis is economic and explores how production defines power relations within the society (Mosko. examines all the artifacts and the daily practices of the society. are briefly presented below. 2004). but policy-oriented research. the tradition of cultural studies and the New Audience Research. Module 1. Unit 6). since it is mainly independent of the intentions of the media industry (Halloran 2005). three outstanding research traditions can be qualified as critical and policy-oriented: The tradition of political economy.

2. 1981). His criticism against the media-centered. Module 1.The approach is in general narrow and one-sided. production and control are not considered. isolated from their social context.The media are treated as single factor. New
Audience
Research The New Audience Research examines the use of the media as a part of everyday life. economic. Unit 6) Criticism
on
the
“conventional
research”
 According to Halloran (Halloran. In the Media Effects Tradition: 1. . 3. It is not particularly interested in the media practices and policies.8 are perceived from the audience depending on its cultural context (Boyd-Barrett 2001). which sees the world from the point of view of its participants (Hermes. organizational.The research issues are selected according to the interests of the media industry or according to the available research resources and methods. professional and personal. political. there are six factors that influence the research: historical.The relations of power. but in the meanings that the audience makes from the media offer. Methodologically the New Audience Research is based on the interpretative ethnography. policy-oriented research is based on these factors and is summarized below. 4.

9 5. The audience is seen either as a single powerless individual. the administrative research concentrates on empirical methods. The research methods are mainly empirical and tend to gain measurable results. questions that are difficult to be measured are excluded from the research. what should academic research serve? Individual interests or the public good? Putting the question this way allows nearly no other answer than “the public good”. 7. Should these issues emerge from the needs of the media industry or from the current social problems? Or. whether the research should be related to communication policy or not. Instead of this. to put the question differently. vulnerable to the media messages. critical and policy independent research traditions. but the general social background of the audience remains not researched. like the ones presented above (Halloran 2005). neglecting the theory. 6. Conclusion
 The question that arises from the comparison of the two categories of communication research is.It is not concerned with the need of creating a solid theoretical concept. or as an individual with ability to select and influence the media. Given that the “public good” differs in many points from the interests of the media . According to Halloran (Halloran 1981) and Gitlin (Gitlin 1978). Halloran’s critical approach to the Media Effects tradition and the awareness of its weaknesses led to alternative. a theoretical concept is a basic factor for the improvement of academic research. “Relation” has here the meaning of “motivation” and refers to the issues that are selected for examination. In this sense.

Ideally. the internal disagreements among researchers have a negative influence on the research process (Halloran 2005). That seems. since academic research needs funding (which often comes from the media) and access to media resources (which depends on the media industry). If research serves the media industry and its policies.10 industry. Despite the difficulties and the internal and external obstacles. What communication research can contribute to the media policy are recommendations. . the history of communication research has shown that independence and critical approaches are possible. there are hardly meeting points between policy research and policy-oriented research. difficult. ideally should be absolutely independent of media interests. In addition to these external obstacles. it cannot serve at the same time the interests of the society and it cannot be unbiased. criticism and potential answers to media related questions and problems. however. This comprises another kind of relations. Otherwise various qualitative researches would have never taken place. as much as possible. My beliefs are that “good” academic research is the research that deals with social issues. approaches them in a holistic way and rejects. the serving of particular interests.

Hermes. 21-32. Halloran. J. In Approaches to Media. Mosco. A Reader. Halloran. Newbold. pp. pp. London: Hodder Education. 8-20. Centre for Mass Communication Research. A critical introduction. Oliver (2001) Approaches to the Study of Mass Communication. Centre for Mass Communication Research. London: Hodder Education. Boyd-Barrett. Centre for Mass Communication Research. (1995) (eds) Questioning the Media. University of Leicester. Unit 6 of the MA in Mass Communications. 68-76. J. Unit 2 of the MA in Mass Communications.D. The “Ethnographic Turn”: The Histories and Politics of the New Audience Research. In Approaches to Media.11 References Boyd-Barrett. London: Sage Gitlin. (2nd Edition). pp. Unit 1 of the MA in Mass Communications. University of Leicester. Hanno (1992) On ignoring History: mass communication research and the critique of society. University of Leicester. London: Sage. Oliver (1995) Early theories in media research. James D. Unit 3 of the MA in Mass Communications. J. London: Hodder Education. McQuail. In Approaches to Media. (2005) Media Research as Social Science. (1981) The context of mass communications research. In Approaches to Media. et al. A Reader. Todd (1978) Media Sociology: the dominant paradigm. 33-42. Hardt. A Reader. Centre for Mass Communication Research. pp. London: Hodder Education. Centre for Mass Communication Research.D. Joke. . Centre for Mass Communication Research. (1963) Control or Consent? London: Sheed and Ward Halloran. Gough-Yates. University of Leicester. A Reader. Denis (2005) Mc Quail’s Mass Communication Theory (5th Edition). Chris (2005) The “Media Effects” Tradition. Anna (2007) The Cultural Studies Tradition of Media Research. Unit 4 of the MA in Mass Communications. University of Leicester. University of Leicester. Unit 5 of the MA in Mass Communications. Dowing. Vincent (2004) The Political Economy Tradition of Media Research.

Alan and Dowing.12 O’ Connor. A critical introduction. pp. 3-22. (2ND Edition). London: Sage. John (1995) Culture and Communication. In Questioning the Media. .