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FSU MMC 2000 - Exam 4 Book Notes

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Exam 4 Book Notes, Chapters 13, 12, 11I. Chapter 13: Theories and Effects of Mass CommunicationA. The Effects Debate1. Arguments on the effects of media:a) Media content has limited impact on audiences because it’s only make-believe; people know it isn’t real. 1) Counterarguments: a) news is not make-believe and we are supposed to take it seriouslyb) most film and television dramas are intentionally produced to seem real to viewersc) much contemporary television is expressly real – reality shows present real peopled) advertising is supposed to tell the truthe) early window: before children develop the intellectual and critical capacity to know what is not real, children control the world in all its splendor and vulgarity through television; what they see is realf) willing suspend disbelief: to enjoy what we consume, we willingly accept as real what is put before usb) Media content has limited impact on audiences because it is only play or just entertainment. 1) Counterarguments: a) news is not play or entertainmentb) even if media content is only play, play is very important to the way we develop our knowledge of ourselves and our world, such as learning sportsmanship through playing sportsc) If media have any effects at all, they are not the media’s fault; media simply hold a mirror to society and reflect the status quo, showing us our world as they already are.1) Counterargument:Media hold a very selective mirror, because it is impossible to reflect the entire world, and therefore media practitioners must make choices of what goes on air. d) If media have any effect at all, it is only to reinforce preexisting values and beliefs. Family, church, school, and other socializing agents have much more influence.1) Counterarguments:a) the traditional socializing agents have lost much of their power to influence in our complicated and fast-paced worldb) reinforcement is not the same as having no effects; if media can reinforce the good in our culture, media can just as easily reinforce the bad e) If media have any effects at all, they are only on the unimportant things in our lives, such as fads and fashions.1) Counterarguments:a) fads and fashions are not unimportant to us; rather, they characterize us to others b) if media influence only the unimportant things in our lives, why are billions of dollars spent on media effects to sway opinion about social issues such as universal health care, nuclear power, and global warming?2. Micro- versus macro-level effects of mediaa) Micro level: at a personal level, media have relatively few direct effectsb) Macro level: the impact of media acts at this cultural, or broader, levelc) The micro-level view is that televised violence has little impact because although some people may be directly affected, most people are not. The macro-level view is that televised violence has a great impact because it influences the cultural climate.3. Administrative versus critical research a) Administrative research: asks questions about the immediate, observable influence of mass communication; example, Does a commercial campaign sell more cereal?b) Critical research: a method designed by Paul Lazarsfeld, the father of social science research; asking larger questions about what kind of nation we are building, what kind of people we are becomingc) Administrative research concerns itself with direct causes and effects; critical research looks at larger, possibly more significant cultural questions 4. Transmissional versus ritual perspective a) Transmissional perspective: sees media as senders of information for the purpose of control; that is, either media have effects on our behavior or they do notb) Ritual perspective: views media not as a means of transmitting “messages in space” but as central to “the maintenance of society in time;” this perspective is necessary to understand the cultural importance of mass communicationc) Example: when looking at an ad for Skyy vodka, the transmissional perspective would be that the ad either makes you want to buy vodka or not. The ritual perspectivewould question what is happening culturally in the ad? What reality about alcohol and socializing is shared? Can young people really have fun in social settings without alcohol? What constitutes a good-looking man or woman? Etc. B. Defining Mass Communication Theory1. Mass 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 2. Cultivation analysis: the idea that people’s ideas of themselves, their world, and their place in it are shaped and maintained primarily through television 3. Attitude change theory: explains how people’s attitudes are formed, shaped, and changed and how those attitudes influence behavior; example, when asked to draw a dime, most people draw it smaller than its actual size because dimes are an inconsequential coin, we perceive it smaller than it really is 4. To understand mass communication theory, you should recognize these important ideas:a) There is no one mass communication theory. Mass communication theorists have produced a number of middle-range theories that explain or predict specific, limited aspects of the mass communication processb) Mass communication theories are often borrowed from other fields of science. These theories are adapted to questions and issues in communication. c) Mass communication theories are human constructions. People create them, and therefore their creation is influenced by human biasesd) Mass communication theories are dynamic, they undergo frequent recasting, acceptance, and rejection because theories are human constructed and the environment in which they are created constantly change. C. A Shorthand History of Mass Communication Theory 1. Mass communication theory is particularly open to evolving ideas for three reasons:a) Advances in technology or the introduction of new media fundamentally alter the nature of mass communicationb) Calls for control or regulation of these new technologies require, especially in a democracy such as ours, an objective, scientific-based justificationc) As a country committed to protecting democracy and cultural pluralism, we ask how each new technology or medium can foster our pursuit of that goal2. There are four major eras of mass communication theory: the era of mass society theory, the era of limited effects perspective, the


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