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Communication Mass Communication
by
Hans-Bernd Brosius, Veronika Karnowski

Introduction

Mass communication can be best described by its counterparts. With regard to the number of people involved, mass communication has many participants, whereas interpersonal communication has few. With regard to visibility, mass communication is highly visible and public; private communication is hidden from others. Mass-communication messages are mostly provided by media professionals who collect, process, structure, and distribute information. It is a one-to-many communication with little feedback possibilities. In mass societies, mass communication is probably the most effective way of finding, discussing, and resolving issues that are relevant for the existence of a given society. Accordingly, research in mass communication is mainly concerned with its effects. Scholars have developed many theories—such as agenda setting—that are focusing on the beneficial and detrimental effects of the mass media. Many other topics are indirectly related to the effects of mass communication, such as freedom of the press, journalism, or media systems, but also entertainment. The internet and its diverse communication modes serve as a challenge to this role of mass communication. Mass communication is often framed within a normative point of view: Mass media, particularly radio, television, and other instances of audiovisual communication, enable a mass society to exchange views effectively on important problems and issues, thus helping democracies to come to the right decisions. In terms of usage, however, audiovisual mass media mostly carry entertainment content. Entertainment, however, might not be without political and societal consequences (e.g., cultivation theory). Although mass-communication content includes many genres and modalities and appears across all media, this entry focuses more on processes and intellectual arcs that transcend any single type of content.

Textbooks

There are only a few textbooks explicitly dedicated to mass communication; most of them address communication science in general or special topics in mass communication such as mass-communication effects. McQuail 2010 and Baran 2008 are probably the most prominent exceptions to this. Easy to read but rather old is the “milestones” project, Lowery and DeFleur 1995. Besides these textbooks addressing undergraduate students, there are readers such as McQuail 2002 and Katz, et al. 2002 assembling texts by different authors in various topics in mass communication. Additionally, some books on communication science in general are considered textbooks as they are relevant to the smaller field of mass communication. These include Berger, et al. 2010 and Schulz 2010, which give excellent overviews of various topics in mass communication.

  • Baran, Stanley J. 2008. Mass communication theory: Foundations, ferment, and future. 5th ed. Boston: Wadsworth.

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    This volume is a timely and highly accessible review of research and theory in mass communication. An essential reading for undergraduate students in mass communication.

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  • Berger, Charles R., Michael E. Roloff, and David R. Roskos-Ewoldsen, eds. 2010. The handbook of communication science. 2d ed. Los Angeles: SAGE.

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    Despite being devoted to the more general field of communication science, the second edition of this handbook is also helpful to advanced students and academics seeking overviews on mass-communication-related themes.

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  • Katz, Elihu, John Durham Peters, Tamar Liebes, and Avril Orloff, eds. 2002. Canonic texts in media research: Are there any? Should there be? How about these? Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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    This edited volume is a first attempt to establish canonic texts in the field. Despite being heavily criticized for this undertaking, the editors produced a book equally valuable to advanced students and academics in the field.

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  • Lowery, Shearon A., and Melvin L. DeFleur, 1995. Milestones in mass communication research: Media effects. 3d ed. White Plains, NY: Longman.

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    Dedicated to seminal work in the field of media effects. In short articles, the authors explain circumstances, theoretical background, methods, results, and effects of the most prominent academic work in media effects.

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

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    Denis McQuail’s textbook on mass communication theory can already be considered a classic. Highly accessible, it is especially useful to undergraduate students in the field.

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  • McQuail, Denis, ed. 2002. McQuail’s reader in mass communication research. London: SAGE.

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    This reader offers a selection of original articles on various topics in mass communication. It therefore presents a good choice of primary literature for undergraduate students.

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  • Schulz, Peter J., ed. 2010. Communication theory. 4 vols. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    This book provides a broad range of essays on all kinds of topics in communication studies. This timely summary of the field is a key reading both for students and academics in the field.

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Journals

Scholarly work on mass communication is published in a wide range of refereed journals. Some of them focus exclusively on mass communication (Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Mass Communication and Society) or are even more specialized (Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media). Others are broader in their scope (Communication, Culture & Critique, Communication Theory, Communication Research, Human Communication Research, Journal of Communication), nevertheless playing an essential role in the academic discourse on mass communication.

Process

Mass communication—like every other type of communication—can be described as a process: under certain societal, economical, and technical frameworks, communicators such as journalists and public-relations managers collect, process, arrange, and distribute information in its broadest sense (news, entertainment, advertisements, etc.). The most influential models of mass communication take this into account and describe mass communication in terms of a flowchart that echoes general sender-medium-recipient models of human communication.

Definitions, Concepts, and Models

Mass communication is undoubtedly one of the most disputed concepts in the academic field of communications. Based on pure communication models, like the mathematical model in Shannon and Weaver 1949 or the more interactive model in Schramm 1954, various definitions, concepts, and models of mass communication arose. One of the simplest but also widest known is the Lasswell Formula (Lasswell 1948) that has molded the field until today. More elaborate models, emphasizing different aspects like social background of sender and recipient, organizational background of message production, and attributes of the audience, were proposed in various works (e.g., Riley and Riley 1959, Westley and MacLean 1955, Wright 1959). The conceptualization laid out in Hall 1980 directs attention to quite a different point of view. Emphasizing the idea of encoding and decoding and thus the very possible alteration of messages during the communication process, the author lays the groundwork for cultural-studies research. In today’s media environment, the adequacy of this concept is discussed intensively. Turow 1992 and Chaffee and Metzger 2001 both address this point, either arguing for the remaining importance of this concept or for its replacement by other concepts like media communication.

  • Chaffee, Steven H., and Miriam J. Metzger. 2001. The end of mass communication? Mass Communication and Society 4.4: 365–379.

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    This discussion of the term mass communication tries to analyze the significance of mass communication with respect to new media. Due to the fundamental changes in the media landscape, Chaffee and Metzger prefer the term media communication to mass communication.

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  • Hall, Stuart. 1980. Encoding/decoding. In Culture, media, language: Working papers in cultural studies, 1972–79. Edited by Stuart Hall, Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe, and Paul Willis, 128–138. London: Hutchison.

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    Hall’s thoughts on the communication process have laid the groundwork for cultural-studies research in mass communication. In this article he emphasizes the fact that sender and receiver are decoding and encoding messages during the communication process. The message is therefore easily subject to alterations during the communication process.

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  • Lasswell, H. D. 1948. The structure and function of communication in society. In The communication of ideas: A series of addresses. Edited by Lyman Bryson, 37–51. New York: Institute for Religious and Social Studies.

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    In this most influential article Lasswell introduced his famous formula: “Who says what in which channel to whom with what effect?” Provides a structuring of the mass-communication process that has shaped the field since then. The Lasswell Formula was subject to harsh critique, especially regarding its linear and static conceptualization of the mass-communication process.

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  • Riley, John W., and Matilda White Riley. 1959. Mass communication and the social system. In Sociology today: Problems and prospects. Edited by Robert K. Merton, Leonard Broom, and Leonard S. Cottrell, 537–578. New York: Basic Books.

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    The model suggested in this article is dedicated to the social dependencies and interdependencies of communicator and recipient. It highlights the fact that mass communication is embedded in and influenced by an “overall social system.” Consequently, this article inspired diverse research on sociological and socio-psychological issues in mass communication research.

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  • Schramm, Wilbur. 1954. How communication works. In The process and effects of mass communication. By Wilbur Schramm, 3–26. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

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    The basic communication model suggested by Wilbur Schramm—often named as the founder of communication science—is of a circular process between interchangeable senders and receivers, both of them encoding and decoding messages.

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  • Shannon, C., and W. Weaver. 1949. The mathematical theory of communication. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

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    Shannon and Weaver propose a classical unidirectional communication model. Despite its various shortcomings—due to its exclusively technical focus—it is one of the most cited communication models in mass-communication research.

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  • Turow, Joseph. 1992. Standpoint: On reconceptualizing “mass communication.”Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 36.1: 105–110.

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    In response to the changes in the media landscape since the very first conceptualizations of this term, Turow emphasizes the industrial production of content as a core element of mass communication.

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  • Westley, Bruce H., and Malcolm S. MacLean Jr. 1955. A conceptual model for mass communications research. Audio Visual Communication Review 3:3–12.

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    Another model of the mass-communication process was proposed in this article by Westley and MacLean. Clearly influenced by the concept of gatekeeping, it mainly focuses on the transmission of news. This model was also criticized for different reasons, mainly its linear conceptualization, similar to the stimulus-response model.

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  • Wright, Charles Robert. 1959. Mass communication: A sociological perspective. New York: Random House.

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    Wright consolidated the scholarly discourse on mass communication in his widely accepted and applied definition of the mass-communication process. He highlighted the fact that communicators work in complex organizations and use technological devices to reach a large, diverse, spatially separated, and anonymous audience.

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Journalists and Other Sources of Information

There are quite different traditions in analyzing journalism and journalistic work. The constructivist point of view is highlighted in Tuchman 1978. Görke and Scholl 2006 gives an introduction to Luhman’s theory of social systems in journalism studies. Dahlgren and Sparks 1992 provides a summary of journalism as popular culture. A synopsis of the whole field is provided in Franklin, et al. 2005, Tumber 2000, Wahl-Jorgensen and Hanitzsch 2009, and Zelizer 2004.

Content and Channels

The study of content and channel in mass communication has various aims. On one hand, there is research on factors influencing media content and channels; systematizations and reviews are given in Shoemaker and Reese 1995 and Dimmick and Coit 1982. Albarran and Dimmick 1996 centers on concentrations in the media sector and its effects. On the other hand, there is research on different attributes of content and channels themselves. Semiology (e.g., Fiske 2002), iconography, and discourse analysis (e.g., Smith and Bell 2007) examine the ambiguous meaning of media content. Quality is another issue in media content. Fundamental dimensions in the debate on this construct were proposed by McQuail 1982. A third aspect besides influence on and attributes of media content is the methodology of analyzing media content, i.e., content analysis. This methodology was introduced to communication studies by Berelson 1952. A recent and comprehensive overview is given by Krippendorff 2004.

Recipients and Audience

The term “audience” refers to those actually using certain media content. Blumler 1939 was the first to describe this then-new social group. Recent systematizations of the term, emphasizing the different notions of audience (e.g., “audience as the people addressed” or “audience as value”) are given by Webster and Phalen 1997 and Nightingale 2003. First considered to be a rather passive assembly of individuals, the audience came to be thought of as exhibiting more activity and selectivity, a development also reflected in theories and models on media use. Overviews of these theories and models can be found in Hartmann 2009 and McQuail 1997 regarding the behavioral tradition of audience research, and in Bird 2003 for the cultural-studies view of audience. As the barriers between sender and receiver continue to vanish and audiences are growing increasingly fragmented, the future of the concept audience is in question—an issue addressed by Livingstone 2003.

  • Bird, S. Elizabeth. 2003. The audience in everyday life: Living in a media world. New York: Routledge.

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    Emphasizing the interaction between audience and media, Bird gives insights into the cultural-studies tradition of audience research and its methods. Highly readable, the volume is certain to stimulate further inquiries.

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  • Blumler, Herbert. 1939. The mass, the public and public opinion. In New outline of the principles of sociology. Edited by Alfred McClung Lee. New York: Barnes and Noble.

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    In this text Blumler first described the then-new phenomenon of (mass) audience, giving birth to this research field.

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  • Hartmann, Tilo, ed. 2009. Media choice: A theoretical and empirical overview. New York: Routledge.

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    This edited volume gives a theoretical overview of media choice. Explicitly not meant to be a textbook, it is aimed at advanced students and academics.

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  • Livingstone, Sonia. 2003. The changing nature of audiences: From the mass audience to the interactive media user. In A companion to media studies. Edited by Angharad N. Valdivia, 337–359. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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    Adopting a historical framework, the author examines the concept of audience with regard to today’s changing media environment. In widening the scope to a broader context, this article gives new insights into this debate.

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  • McQuail, Denis. 1997. Audience analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    This textbook on audience analysis by Denis McQuail is probably the widest known of the synopses on audience research.

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  • Nightingale, Virginia. 2003. The cultural revolution in audience research. In A companion to media studies. Edited by Angharad N. Valdivia, 360–381. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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    The author proposes a typology of audience concepts. Differentiating between audience as “the people assembled” and “the people addressed,” and between “happening” and “hearing” or audition,” she highlights the different notions of this concept depending on the theoretical point of view.

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  • Webster, James G., and Patricia F. Phalen. 1997. The mass audience: Rediscovering the dominant model. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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    Webster and Phalen propose another systematization of audience, distinguishing audience as “value,” “victim,” and “consumer.”

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Media Effects and Consequences

Media effects is probably the most prominent field in mass communication. McQuail 2005 gives a systematic overview of the history of this field, separating it into three phases of media-effects research: “all-powerful media,” “theory of powerful media put to the test,” “powerful media rediscovered,” and “negotiated media influence.” Bennett and Iyengar 2008 argues for a new era of minimal effects, in part due to today’s fragmented audiences. The milestones in this evolution from “all-powerful media” to “negotiated media influence” are highlighted and described by Lowery and DeFleur 1995. Nowadays a multitude of theories, concepts, and models shape the field of media effects. The general nature of these effects is systematized by McLeod, et al. 2005. The variety of concepts, models, and theories itself is systematized and described in various overviews and textbooks dedicated to media effects. Among the most comprehensive and recent are Bryant and Oliver 2009, Harris 2009, Nabi and Oliver 2009, and Perse 2001.

  • Bennett, W. Lance, and Shanto Iyengar. 2008. A new era of minimal effects? Changing foundations of political communication. Journal of Communication 58.4: 707–731.

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    With special respect to political communication, Bennett and Iyengar discuss the range of media effects in the era of fragmented audiences, laying the groundwork for a vivid discussion of media effects in today’s media environment

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  • Bryant, Jennings, and Mary Beth Oliver, eds. 2009. Media effects: Advances in theory and research. 3d ed. New York: Routledge.

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    This compendium offers articles about the most influential theories and models in media effects, mostly written by key actors in their respective fields. It is valuable to undergraduate and graduate students alike, as well as to academics looking for a quick overview of a distinct topic in media effects.

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  • Harris, Richard Jackson. 2009. A cognitive psychology of mass communication. 5th ed. New York: Routledge.

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    As the title of this book implies, Harris’s textbook addresses media effects from a mostly psychological point of view. Written in a highly accessible style, this book is especially apt for undergraduate students.

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  • Lowery, Shearon A., and Melvin L. DeFleur, 1995. Milestones in mass communication research: Media effects. 3d ed. White Plains, NY: Longman.

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    This book is dedicated to seminal work in the field of media effects. In short articles the authors explain circumstances, theoretical background, methods, results, and effects of the most prominent academic work in media effects.

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  • McLeod, Jack M., Gerald M. Kosicki, and Zhongdang Pan. 2005. On understanding and not understanding media effects. In Mass media and society. 4th ed. Edited by James Curran and Michael Gurevitch, 235–266. London: Hodder Arnold.

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    This article provides a comprehensive systematization of media effects.

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  • McQuail, Denis. 2005. The influence and effects of mass media In Mass media and society. 4th ed. Edited by James Curran and Michael Gurevitch, 70–94. London: Hodder Arnold.

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    In this article Denis McQuail first introduced his widely received model of three (later on four) phases of the evolution of media effects, today broadly used in communication science. One can question the time sequence of the phases.

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  • Nabi, Robin L., and Mary Beth Oliver, eds. 2009. The SAGE handbook of media processes and effects. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    An extensive volume addressing theoretical, conceptual, and methodological issues in media effects, with a special emphasis on new media.

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  • Perse, Elizabeth M. 2001. Media effects and society. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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    This handbook offers a wide overview of media effects research. Giving in-depth insight but comprehensively written, it is ideal for advanced students in the field.

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Dimensions

Mass communication is deeply rooted in society and affects almost every part of individual and societal behaviors and circumstances. The following subdimensions of influences of mass communication (cultural, historical, normative, and political) reflect the broadness of the concept. Many research questions deal with the impact of mass communication on subsystems of society in general and individual behaviors in these realms.

Cultural

The cultural dimension of mass communication is addressed in clear opposition to the information-processing, mainstream view of mass communication. Noticeably the essays on the cultural dimension of mass communication in Carey 2008 emphasize the negotiation of meaning. Comprehensive synopses on this school of thought are provided by Grossberg 1997 and Miller 2006. Rooted in critical theory (for an international overview see Hardt 1992), this view was mainly developed by the “Birmingham school of cultural studies,” especially Stuart Hall (Hall 1980). Subsequent work in this project dealt with the notion, among others, of audience in communication studies (Ang 1991), media evolution (Meyrowitz 1985) or gender aspects in communication (Zoonen 1994), all emphasizing the discursive nature of the respective relationships.

  • Ang, Ien. 1991. Desperately seeking the audience. London: Routledge.

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    This book by Ien Ang provides a different view of audience, conceptualizing it as an active social subject—a stimulating resource for scholars and advanced students.

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  • Carey, James W. 2008. Communication as culture. Rev. ed. New York: Routledge.

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    This classic in cultural studies emphasizes the negotiation of meaning as a basis of culture, consequently drawing attention mainly to the content of mass communication.

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  • Grossberg, Lawrence. 1997. Bringing it all back home: Essays on cultural studies. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    This compilation of original essays provides a substantial contribution to the state-of the-art work on cultural studies in mass communication. It is most suitable for advanced students and academics in the field.

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  • Hall, Stuart. 1980. Encoding/decoding. In Culture, media, language: Working papers in cultural studies, 1972–79. Edited by Stuart Hall, Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe, and Paul Willis, 128–138. London: Hutchison.

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    Hall’s concept of encoding and decoding points out that messages are often subject to alterations during the communication process. These thoughts form the basis of cultural-studies research in mass communication.

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  • Hardt, Hanno. 1992. Critical communication studies: Essays on communication, history, and theory. London: Routledge.

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    Hardt provides a comprehensive synopsis of the development of scholarly discourse on critical theory in communication science.

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  • Meyrowitz, Joshua. 1985. No sense of place: The impact of electronic media on social behavior. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    This theoretically brilliant yet readable book analyzes the dependences between the evolution of electronic media and social change.

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  • Miller, Toby, ed. 2006. A companion to cultural studies. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

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    Subsuming current trends in cultural studies, this textbook is an accessible introduction to cultural studies for undergraduate students. At the same time, it is a helpful point of reference for advanced students and academics.

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  • Zoonen, Liesbet van. 1994. Feminist media studies. London: SAGE.

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    This is an accessible introduction to feminist media studies for students in mass communication. Based in cultural studies, the book explores a wide range of topics in gender, media, and culture.

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Historical

Examinations of mass communication from a historical point of view typically start with Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press. So do classical textbooks on media history like Briggs and Burke 2010 and Winston 1998, or, with a US-centered point of view, Emery, et al. 2000. Flinchy 2006 is a new media history that concentrates on the youngest media history, the evolution of information communication technologies. Analyzing media history from a more theoretical point of view, both Lehman-Wilzig and Cohen-Avigdor 2004 and Stöber 2004 propose models of media evolution, especially with regard to new media evolution. A broader societal context for media evolution is given by McLuhan 1962, overlooking the era from invention of the printing press to modern times, and Castells 1996–1998, regarding modern information society.

  • Briggs, Asa, and Peter Burke. 2010. A social history of the media: From Gutenberg to the Internet. 3d ed. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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    This textbook is a comprehensive and readable general survey of media history. Starting with Gutenberg, the authors portray media evolution as a nonlinear process.

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  • Castells, Manuel. 1996–1998. The information age: Economy, society, and culture. 3 vols. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

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    This seminal trilogy by the famous sociologist Manuel Castells provides a wide-ranging sociology of the information age, pointing out higher risk and less security but also higher chances in future society. A must-read for everyone.

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  • Edwin, Michael, Edwin Emery, and Nancy L. Roberts. 2000. The press and America: An interpretative history of the mass media. 9th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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    The classical textbook on mass media history in the United States. It covers the whole range of media evolution in the United States from the press during the colonial years to media technologies of the 21st century.

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  • Flichy, Patrice. 2006. New media history. In The handbook of new media: Social shaping and social consequences of ICTs. Edited by Leah A. Lievrouw and Sonia Livingstone, 187–204. London: SAGE.

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    This article gives a brief synopsis of the evolution of the so-called new media. Flichy summarizes the evolution of information communication technologies and their relation to society.

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  • Lehman-Wilzig, Sam, and Nava Cohen-Avigdor. 2004. The natural life cycle of new media evolution: Inter-media struggle for survival in the internet age. New Media & Society 6.6: 707–730.

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    In their analysis of the evolution of the internet, Lehman-Wilzig and Cohen-Avigdor propose a life-cycle model of new media evolution.

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  • McLuhan, Marshall. 1962. The Gutenberg galaxy: The making of typographic man. Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press.

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    In his analysis of European media evolution, McLuhan describes the shift from a listening to a reading society. A key reading relevant to any student in mass communication.

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  • Stöber, Rudolf. 2004. What media evolution is: A theoretical approach to the history of new media. European Journal of Communication 19.4: 483–505.

    DOI: 10.1177/0267323104049461Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Stöber conceptualizes new media evolution as a two-step process of inventing and social institutionalizing.

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  • Winston, Brian. 1998. Media, technology and society: A history from the printing press to the superhighway. London: Routledge.

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    This volume offers a comprehensive history of communication and information technologies. From the printing press to the Internet, Winston highlights the nondisruptive nature of media history.

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Normative

The main topic of normative theories in mass communication is not what role mass communication actually plays in society, but what role it should play. A timely and broad summary is provided by Christians, et al. 2009. Special attention to normative issues in mass communication with regard to electronic media is paid by Napoli 2001. The notion of public interest is at the heart of every normative investigation of mass communication. Key points in this concept are addressed by Blumler 1998. Mass communication should serve the public interest; therefore it has a certain social responsibility (for details see Nordenstreng 1998) and develops certain codes to assure this duty. A comparative analysis of journalistic codes is given by Hafez 2002. On the other hand, freedom of the press must be guaranteed to enable mass communication to serve the public interest. Hardt 2001 provides a historical overview of freedom of the press. Underlying these principles is the concept of the public sphere provided by mass media, enabling political discourse in a democratic society. Habermas heavily criticized this idea being outdated and elitist. Habermas 2006 is a comprehensive overview of the author’s thoughts on the public sphere. A possible solution to the issue of improving public discourse addressed by Habermas was developed by journalists themselves—the idea of public journalism (see Haas and Steiner 2006).

Political

The political dimension of mass communication is a field of research based on multiple disciplines. Chaffee 1975 is a milestone in scholarly work in communication, paving the way for an extensive discussion on the interconnections between mass communication and politics. An increasingly controversial debate is subsumed by Blumler and Gurevitch 1995. Synopses of the field appear in Kaid 2004 and Kaid and Holtz-Bacha 2007. Comprehensive but short summaries on the political dimension of mass communication are provided by Graber 1983 or—more recently—Graber and Smith 2005. An easily accessible introduction to one of the core concepts of political communication—public opinion—is given by Price 1992.

  • Blumler, Jay G., and Michael Gurevitch. 1995. The crisis of public communication. London: Routledge.

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    Blumler and Gurevitch provide an in-depth analysis of the increasingly controversial role of mass communication in politics. A volume suitable for advanced students and academics.

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  • Chaffee, Steven H., ed. 1975. Political communication: Issues and strategies for research. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE.

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    This edited volume marks a sharp break in how researchers think about the field. The volume explicitly rejects limited-effects theory and lays the foundation for later research on political communication.

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  • Graber, Doris. 1983. Political communication: Scope, progress, promise. In Political science: The state of the discipline. Edited by Ada W. Finifter, 305–332. Washington, DC: American Political Science Association.

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    This article gives an accessible synopsis of the field of political communication.

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  • Graber, Doris A., and James M. Smith. 2005. Political communication faces the 21st century. Journal of Communication 55.3: 479–507.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2005.tb02682.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors give an overview of scholarly work in political communication. Based on this review, they outline a road map for future research in political communication. The article is of value to both scholars and advanced students in political communication.

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  • Kaid, Lynda Lee. ed. 2004. Handbook of political communication research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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    Gathering works by experts from political science, communication studies, rhetoric, marketing, journalism, and media studies, this volume gives extensive summary of political communication.

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  • Kaid, Lynda Lee, and Christina Holtz-Bacha, eds. 2007. Encyclopedia of political communication. Los Angeles: SAGE.

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    Timely and wide-ranging, these two volumes cover all relevant theoretical approaches to political communication in more than six hundred entries—an essential resource not only for undergraduates, but also for graduate students.

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  • Price, Vincent. 1992. Public opinion. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.

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    This review of a central topic in political communication analyzes the nature of public opinion and its relation to mass media. This volume makes the concept “public opinion” easily accessible to students.

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Future

As the new media evolution continues at high speed, the future of mass communication has come increasingly into question. Sunstein 2007 argues for an increasing fragmentation in new media use, leading to “information cocooning,” a point also addressed by other scholars. Livingstone 2003 considers mass audiences to be an outdated phenomenon of the 20th century, and Bennett and Iyengar 2008 consequently postulates the comeback of an era of minimal effects. The new forms of communication arising in this new media environment are characterized as mass self-communication by Castells 2007. Morris and Ogan 1996, on the other hand, advocates for the continuity of mass communication. So does Rice 1999, pointing to the ongoing unwillingness of users to take full advantage of new media’s capabilities. The main capability of new media, to make users an active audience is interactivity (see Kiousis 2002, Quiring and Schweiger 2008).

LAST MODIFIED: 02/23/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756841-0022

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