Perspectives on mass communication

Paradigms are models guiding how we think. Paradigms relevant to mass communication processes include: Functional Approaches Critical/Cultural Approaches Paradigms are useful because they: Provide a perspective to examine mass communication Generate concepts to understand media behavior Help identify important elements in the process

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Perspectives on Mass Communication Chapter 2 © 2009, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.1CHAPTER OUTLINEParadigms Functional AnalysisCritical/Cultural Studies2Paradigms Paradigms are models guiding how we think. Paradigms relevant to mass communication processes include:Functional ApproachesCritical/Cultural ApproachesParadigms are useful because they:Provide a perspective to examine mass communicationGenerate concepts to understand media behaviorHelp identify important elements in the process3FUNCTIONAL ANALYSIS Functional approach: Something is best understood by examining how it is used.For mass media, this means examining how audiences interact with media and how they use media4The Role of Mass Communication Different media provide different primary uses.Macroanalysis: how media functions for the society as a wholeMicroanalysis: how media functions for the individual5Functions of Mass Communication for Society (1 of 6)Societal level (Macroanalysis)Society requires certain communication needs be met.Some are handled by the mass media.We must consider the consequences of performing these functions by media.Dysfunctions: negative consequencesMedia functions are not mutually exclusive6Functions of Mass Communication for Society (2 of 6)SurveillanceWarningInstrumentalConsequencesSpeed of propagating truth and errorMost news not verifiable by receiverCredibilityAnxietyStatus Conferral7Functions of Mass Communication for Society (3 of 6)InterpretationExpress viewpoints and analysis ConsequencesWide range of contrasting viewpointsWeigh all sides before making decisionGreater depth of expertise availableNo guarantee interpretations are accuratePeople become overly dependent on media for interpretation8Functions of Mass Communication for Society (4 of 6)LinkageBring together various elements of societyConsequencesBuild new groups or communitiesHate groups or terrorist groups use of Internet9Functions of Mass Communication for Society (5 of 6)Transmission of Values (Socialization)People adopt behaviors or values of a groupConsequencesStabilize society by creating bondsEncourages the status quoMedia can help enforce social normsTV and SocializationTV has great potential in socializationViolent or stereotypical content10Functions of Mass Communication for Society (6 of 6)EntertainmentImportance of this function has grown as Americans have had more leisure timeConsequencesContent appeals to lowest common denominator of tasteWill mass media turn us into a nation of watchers instead of a nation of doers?11How People use Mass Media (1 of 3)Uses-and-gratifications: how people use the mediaIndividual level (microanalysis)People have certain needs or desiresNeeds satisfied by media and non-media sourcesFour categories of media uses, reflecting needs.12How People use Mass Media (2 of 3)CognitionDiversionStimulationRelaxationEmotional Release (catharsis)Social UtilityConversational CurrencyParasocial RelationshipsWithdrawal13How People use Mass Media (3 of 3)Content and context both affect media useAssumptions of functional approach:Audiences are activeNeeds provide motivation for media useOther sources exist to satisfy needsPeople are aware of their needs and can verbalize them (surveys)14CRITICAL/CULTURAL STUDIES Contrasts with functional approach. More qualitative, humanisticExamines different conceptsIdeology, culture, politics, social structure as related to the role of media in society15History (1 of 2)1930s-1940s: Marx and the Frankfurt SchoolWho controls the means of production?Media industry exploits the massesGlorifies capitalism, reinforces status quo1950s-1960s: British cultural studiesMass media audience can redefine the products of mass culture, and create new definitions for their own purpose16History (2 of 2)1970s-1980s: Varied approachesFeminist scholarsPatriarchy: Gender-based inequalities of wealth and powerCommunication as ritualCultural myths embodied in mass communication17Concepts (1 of 2)Culture: common values holding people togetherText: object of analysis, broadly definedMeaning: interpretations of textsPolysemy: different audiences, different meaningsIdeology: deeply imbedded beliefs, especially regarding political and social themesHegemony: dominance and control accepted as natural and normal18Concepts (2 of 2)Functional and cultural/critical approaches are differentDifference has led to tension among scholarsBoth approaches are valuable19
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