Phase II: Theory of all powerful media put to the test (Paul Lazersfeld. ,…
Phase II: Theory of all powerful media put to the test
: Most research conducted phase 2 tried to measure intended and unintended effects of the media. Some research also focuses on the improvement of the effectiveness of communication for legitimate ends. other research tried to asses whether mass media ere a cause of social problem.This studies focus on the effect of different types and contents of media on audiences. Is there persuasion taking place? Attention was being paid to mediating social contacts. It's important to note that:
Media do have effect, but no direct link between media message and audience response could be identified.
Media message are not hypodermic needles. They function in a pre-existing social and cultural context that has to be taken into account
The media environment is complex that is difficult to identify individual effect.
It is perfectly possible to receive media information without changing one's opinion or behavior.
The Empirical tradition is often contrasted with the critical tradition. But boundaries between the two are not as clear as we expect. Collaborations between the two do exist. The
Empirical paradigm is given different name:
A. The dominant Paradigm:
It combine a view of powerful mass media in mass society with research practices from the social sciences. It shows a normative concern with the proper functioning of society. Characteristics of this normal/good society include: democracy, well-informed citizens,... Well it's an ideal view of Western society.
According to Shannon-Weaver's communication model, when something goes wrong in communication, it's because of "noise" (refers to technological communication)
: One of the main functions of the media is social integration. Functionalist theories are often considered to be apolitical. Functional research focuses on the uses and the gratifications people get out of media usage. It takes an actor-centred approach focusing on individuals' needs, uses and gratifications. The main function of the media are:
Correlations of the parts of society in responding to the environment (socializing , coordinating activities)
Transmission of cultural heritage
Surveillance of the environment
C. Structural Fonctionalism
: It has the idea that the media is in a sub-system in a large social system. Media fulfills key needs of the system. Media are often seen a conformist rather than critical of the system.
Avoidance of fundamental criticism
Different access for different categories of social actors: gate-keeping function
Providing social cement
He makes a distonction between:
aspires to a general theory of contemporary social trends. It presumes a set of basic human values. It concentrates on negative interpretations rather than fact finding suggestions.
: academic work in the service of external private or public agencies. It consist in organizing surveys, making graphs.
Lazarsfeld and Herzog pioneered the uses and gratifications approach
Their research in "radio and the printed page" showed that people from lower classes do not listen to "serious" radios. Their conclusion was that it is useless for upper classes to try to convince lower classes to listent to serious radios because they are not adjusted to their point of view.
Lazarsfeld and Merton
He collaborate with Robert Merton and wrote the book "Mass persuasion". it was a content analysis of the Kate smith war bond rally. The analysis showed that different themes were involved:
Listeners felt they were witnessing or eve, participating in an extraordinary event.
The broadcast had to be seen as a whole (people standing by Kate Smith's side)
Informal conversation tone
They felt a sense of collectivity
Merton explain the power of the broadcast through the function it performed for listeners in society. he sees the US money as a money focused society. hat did people get out listening to that program? Kate Smith' authenticity came as something new. There is also the background of skepticism makes people want to believe someone who seems to incarnate values.
The different media functions for Merton
: Media channel existing social attitude
: media do not act alone
: media monopolises how an issue is being framed
The different media functions for Lazarsfeld
: media confer authority and statut to public issues, persons and organisations
Enforcement of social norms:
media enforce prevailing social attitudes and values
: a négative distinction of the media, it consists in the creation the illusion of political participation
Lazarsfeld analysed how the voter makes up his mind in a presidential campaign: The voting behaviors were largely predictable: the poor vote for democratic and the rich for republican.. So the study focused on the undecided. the study showed the the importance of personal influence and so called opinion leaders. It was as if ideas flow from radio and print to opinion leaders and from them to the less active sections of the population;
The limited effects thesis:
This thesis wad developed under the influence of insights into the audience's
Selective attention, selective retention and selective exposure
Phenomena of reinforcement and confirmation bias