Sociology Essay On Mass Media

Contemporary media research draws on multiple theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. Curran 2010 and McQuail 2010 offer excellent broad overviews. Berelson 1959 and Katz, et al. 2003 present mainstream canonical views of key early works in the field. Gitlin 1978 provides an important critical reassessment of this canonical narrative, while Dorsten 2012 critiques the effacement of female scholars from accounts of the discipline’s history. Pooley 2008 synthesizes several revisionist histories of mass communications research, producing the most developed rethinking of the field to date. Couldry 2012 delivers an erudite and wide-ranging attempt to update social theories of media for the digital era.

  • Berelson, Bernard. 1959. The state of communication research. Public Opinion Quarterly 23:1–6.

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    This classic essay presents Lewin, Lasswell, Lazarsfeld, and Hovland as four “founding fathers” of communications research, a contested but canonical view of the field.

  • Couldry, Nick. 2012. Media, society, world: Social theory and digital media practice. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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    Focuses on the transformations generated by digital technology, constructing a social theory of everyday media use. Couldry examines the ontologies, categorizations, accumulations of power, and normative frameworks in which digital media exist, placing emphasis on the importance of mediated representation in social life.

  • Curran, James, ed. 2010. Media and society. 5th ed. New York: Bloomsbury.

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    The latest in an excellent series formerly entitled Mass Media and Society, this collection continues the tradition of past editions by offering an exemplary, far-ranging view of the field. Despite the conspicuous name change, the volume contains several essays exploring the ongoing relevance of the term mass for media studies.

  • Dorsten, Aimee-Marie. 2012. “Thinking dirty”: Digging up three founding “matriarchs” of communication studies. Communication Theory 22.1: 25–47.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2885.2011.01398.xE-mail Citation »

    In a rejoinder to Berelson’s 1959 “founding fathers” historical account of communications studies, Dorsten underscores the contributions of female thinkers such as Hortense Powdermaker, Mae Huettig, and Helen MacGill Hughes to the formation of the field of mass media research.

  • Gitlin, Todd. 1978. Media sociology: The dominant paradigm. Theory and Society 6:205–253.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF01681751E-mail Citation »

    This landmark essay critiques the “limited-effects” model posited by Lazarsfeld and others for not taking adequate account of media’s institutional power. One finds here a compelling Gramscian-inflected argument for a conception of power that operates not through changing opinions but rather through reinforcing and naturalizing the existing order.

  • Katz, Elihu, John Durham Peters, Tamar Liebes, and Avril Orloff, eds. 2003. Canonic texts in media research. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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    Breaking the history of mass media research into “schools” (the Columbia School, Frankfurt School, Chicago School, Toronto School, and British Cultural Studies), this book offers essays reflecting on canonical texts from each approach.

  • McQuail, Denis. 2010. McQuail’s mass communication theory. 6th ed. London: SAGE.

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    Productively links surveys of mass media research to emerging issues and problems. A thorough introduction to the field, suitable as a textbook or as a reference for scholars seeking concise overviews of various subfields.

  • Pooley, Jefferson. 2008. The new history of mass communication research. In The history of media and communication research: Contested memories. Edited by David W. Park and Jefferson Pooley, 43–69. New York: Peter Lang.

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    In this historiography of revisionist histories, Pooley integrates work from scholars across various disciplines to challenge the canonical narrative of early US communications research.

  • Sociology Mass Media Essay

    All humans crave for power. We like to think that we are in control of everything and that our actions are solely based on our own preferences and conscious choice. Despite this prevalent belief, we humans have less control than we think we do. This holds true in many aspects of our lives. Our control over the influences and choices of the mass media material, for instance, is an aspect that is not as minimal and selective as we may believe. Using the mass media as a channel for dissemination, culture has become just another commodity that is bought and sold (Kong, 31 Oct. 2013). Our reliance on media puts us in a vulnerable position, in which avoiding its influence has become virtually impossible. Through the extensive interaction and use of the media, we are gradually and unconsciously molded to perceive, think and eventually act accordingly to the will of people in control of the media. Because control is something people value highly of, many will deny that we are strongly affected by the contents presented in the medium and argue that the contents of the media is democratic, varied and individualistic. However the culture reflected in these media contents is dictatorial and highly standardized.

    The dependence theory proposed by Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Melvin DeFleur undermines the manipulation role media plays in our lives. The dependence theory suggests that audiences are active in their communication process and that their dependency on media relies on their needs and social stability (Hastie, 2013). So if a person has many alternatives to obtain gratification then their dependence on watching T.V shows for entertainment would decrease. Also, in times of social conflict or election when the people are put in a position in which they need to make new decisions, the dependence on media for information would increase. This theory makes perfect sense but it places great emphasis on circumstances where social stability is challenged. Without a doubt there are people who are not as dependent on the media because of other alternatives available for seeking gratification or information. Yet our dependence on media should not be overlooked. In the modern society today, obtaining information from the media is ubiquitous and common sense. Rarely would you find people not owning or having access to a television set or a computer. Mass media has not only become a channel for communication but also the means of which we access knowledge. As Marshall McLuan puts it, the medium is the message. No matter how little people claim that they utilize the media, the media still plays an important role in their lives. Thus people are still susceptible to manipulation.

    Contrary to the widely held belief, the media is not as democratic as it seems. Most mass media operate as private institutions so unarguably there is a certain degree of freedom of speech, but after all...

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