Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mass Media and Education

Sorry for my late post. I have some problems to post on Blogger yesterday. Just fixed it.

In the excerpt, from UNESCO: Its Philosophy and Purpose (1947), Julian Sorrell Huxley considers the mass media, such as the radio, the cinema, and the popular press, as agencies of worldwide education. It’s responsible for UNESCO seeking the main effects of these innovations and take account to pursue its goals by using mass media. According to Huxley, “Although it is true that the mass media provide the first agencies in history through which peoples may speak to peoples, instead of communication between countries being limited to small minorities, yet it is also true that what they say to each other through these agencies may be false, and what they hear may be limited by man-made barriers or its effect distorted by previous propaganda.” (p.223)

This quote reminds me of the Chinese government regulation on free press. As we know, mass media have the power to reach wider dissemination of information of every sort, Chinese government is afraid of this wide dissemination about negative news which could affect government’s image, so they have strict limitation on free press. These man-made barriers of mass media have already affect media’s creditability in China. When people read news about tragedy, they automatically think the truth is worse than it reported. The distorted message will hurt media’s reputation. I’m curious how to make people stop sending false message to mass, but still not have too much regulation on freedom of press.

Another main task of UNESCO is about using mass media as educator. I definitely think it’s a great idea to use mass media in educational purpose. For instance, I had a class which required us to participate in Facebook group. It’s effectiveness to engage students in this social learning environment. We can share any field related articles and videos via Facebook. Students could learn something new at any places and at any time. Mass media is also great for distance learning which could easily connect everyone in the world. So, my question is beside the positive perspective of using mass media as educator, what kind of negative influences may occur in the educational purpose?


12. Conclusion: From Movies and Conduct
By: Herbert Blumer

The purpose of chapter twelve is to explain the impact movies have on people’s lives.

·      Motion pictures usually serve as a source of imitations on beauty, mannerisms, and relationships.
·      Motion pictures are influential in mind and control of adolescence they often serve a teacher on how life is suppose to be.
o   Adolescences view movies as a world they would like to experience, provides direction and focus to desires and ambitions.
·      Motion pictures are created as a form of art that is used to provoke emotion through horror, excitement, romance, adventure, and etc.

13. The Integration of Communication
By: Malcolm M. Willey and Stuart A. Rice

Chapter thirteen explains the way mass communication delivery constantly changes through innovation.

·      Communication is distribute through print (books) and non print (phonograph, speeches, and music)
·      Constant improvement of the way communication is distributed for example: buses competing with street cars, newspapers vs radio, and etc.
·      There are two contradictions: Reinforcements of community patterns with the increase communication from mass communication innovations on attitudes and behaviors with the local community. (local mail, transportation, telephone, and newspapers)
·      Standardization over wider national and international regions

14. "Toward a Critique of Negro Music" by Alain Locke

In this excerpt, Locke uses a critical eye to examine the state of African American music within the larger American cultural context.

·      African Americans are victims of two "vicious extremes": (98)
    • uncritical praise
    • calculated disparagement
  • Their music suffers from "the bitter tonic of criticism...or the soothing syrups of flattery." (99)
  • The Negro musical genius has been subjected to "commercial control, cheap imitation, and easy plagiarism." (100)
    • Uses the "labored fusions" of Carpenter, Gruenberg, Gershwin, and Grofe as examples
15. From "Technics and Civilization" by Lewis Mumford

Mumford discusses how new communication technologies have altered our view of the world, namely how we see ourselves in a constantly-connected world.

  • New communication technologies have bridged the gap between time and space; communication is now quicker than ever and the distance between two people is less of a barrier to communication
  • However, "men tend to be more socialized at a distance" Ex: Instead of making a dozen five-minute telephone calls, it would be more efficient just to leave a note for people to read and understand.
  • The danger is that, now that we have these new communication technologies, we'll use them even when the occasion calls for a more antiquated type of communication, like writing
  • This connectedness has an effect on our personal lives: p. 105's example of the man alone in the wilderness who still thinks of himself as "being watched."

16. The Business Nobody Knows by Rorty

In this essay, Rorty discusses "the business nobody knows" - advertising. He says people often mistake "a function of the thing for the thing insult" - in advertising's case, he refers to the business of preparing and placing ads.

·      Publishers of newspapers and magazines should call their enterprises "advertising business" because they must "serve the profit interests of the advertisers who employ and pay them." (107)
·      Advertising shapes the economic, social, moral and ethical patterns into "conformity with the profit-making interests of advertisers." (107)
·      "Mass advertising perverts the integrity of the editor-reader relationship essential to the concept of democracy." (108)

17. The Influence of Radio upon Mental and Social Life by Cantril and Allport

This essay explores the benefits of radio over other forms of communication. The main argument is that radio contributes to democracy.

·      Radio has made communication faster and cheaper and has made the world even smaller by reaching a large population of people. "The clamor for higher standards of living has been increased through more widely disseminated knowledge of the world's goods." (111)
·      Radio is a powerful tool of democracy:
o   Social distinctions are abolished and there is a consciousness of equality and commonality with a personal appeal. (111)
o   Encourages people to think and feel alike. Broadcasters have to appeal to the greatest number of people, so they aim at the average intelligence, middle class and avoids controversy. (111) One must take sides and "everything tends to be categorical." (113)
o   "Equalizes the opportunity of enjoying art, education and entertainment, and at the same time makes their level everywhere the same." Radio can level up or level down someone's cultural outlook. (112)
·      While "the effort required to overcome the distraction [of a radio] may actually enhance concentration on the task at hand [like studying], the cost is strain and fatigue. (114)
·      Radio is "improving the capacity of the average man to listen intelligently to what he hears." (114)

18. Foreword From Public Opinion Quarterly (1937)
Editors, Public Opinion Quarterly

In this foreword for the magazine’s first issue, the editors discuss how the improvement of communication has enabled mass public opinion to become a force determining political and economic action. Government agencies, institutions and businesses must now divert resources to advertising and public relations.

·      Mass media especially radio and the motion pictures raises the problems of private editorship and governmental control. (p. 117)
·      The Public Opinion Quarterly proposes to be the clearinghouse on the phenomena of public opinion, as well as promote and direct scientific research. (p. 177)

19. Human Interest Stories and Democracy From Public Opinion Quarterly (1937)
Helen MacGill Hughes

News began to be written more simply and in the form of personal stories for the benefit of the uneducated. This often dramatic approach allowed a broader audience to personally connect with the news.  Adjusting the telling of the news in order to be inclusive fostered a free society.

·      By changing the vocabulary in their stories, writers could tell the same story but in a way that the uneducated could understand and enjoy it. (p. 119)
·      The newspapers communicated through the familiar, eventually introducing unknown elements thus exposing the uneducated to a broader view of the world.
(p. 121)
·      Different classes had the same exposure to the news. (p.122)

20. From The Fine Art of Propaganda (1939)

Alfred McClung Lee and Elizabeth Briant Lee critically evaluate radio orator Charles Coughlin, who view these anti-democratic radio personalities are dangerous. They argue that propaganda has moved to an instrument of aggression (p. 125).

·      People need to learn how to analyze propaganda.
o   Some propaganda is in own interest and some threaten and distort our views.
·      Propaganda is an opinion that serves the purpose of influencing individuals and groups.
·      There are seven ABC’s of propaganda
o   Ascertain (conflict element)
o   Behold (own reaction to conflict)
o   Concern (today’s propaganda and conflict)
o   Evaluate (your own propaganda)
o   Find the Facts (before coming to conclusions)
o   Guard (always fight omnibus words
·      Define democracy using political, economic, social, and religious.

21. A Powerful, Bold, and Unmeasurable Party? From The Pulse of Democracy (1940)

George H. Gallup and Saul Forbes Rae argue that the true voice of the people is heard through public opinions polls.

·      Surveys enable people to speak for themselves (p.129).
o   Public opinion thus must be measured.
·      People should be able to voice their opinion rather than be dominated by a small clique.
·      Considers public opinion as a pulse of democracy.
o   Which is constant thought and action of citizen.
·      They consider this an instrument that bridges the gap of what was once a phantom of the public.

22. Democracy in Reverse: From Public Opinion Quarterly (1940)
By: Robert S. Lynd

In this excerpt, Lynd questions the value of public opinion polls

  • Public Opinion polls are performing an important service, to science as well as to practical affairs. 
  • Current public opinion polls take over naively the assumptions about human nature and about democracy.
    • “majority” becomes “right”
  • Issues cannot be solved simply by people’s taking positions “for” or “against” them and then totaling up “the truth”.
  • The central issue this generation faces is the change-over from laissez faire individualism to the centralized coordination of complex things important to the living of the mass of the people. 
  • The danger of public opinion polls is in their eagerness to be “objective”

23. Needed Research in Communication: From the Rockefeller Archives (1940)
By: Lyman Bryson, Lloyd A. Free, Geoffrey Gorer, Harold D. Lasswell, Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Robert S. Lynd, John Marshall, Charles A. Siepmann, Donald Slesinger, and Douglas Waples

This excerpt conveys the urgent mission envisioned for communication research.

  •  The memorandum proceeds from two assumptions 
  • Events are obliging the central government to take on wider and wider responsibility for the welfare of the people
o   If the exercise of the responsibility is to be democratic, more effective ways of keeping the government and the people in communication with each other will have be created.
  • If the government and the people are to keep in touch, more effective ways of communicating will have to be created.
  • Thesis of this memorandum
o   Research will be essential to make communication a two-way process.
o   Research will be essential to report how the people feel themselves affected by proposals or decisions thus explained.

24. On Borrowed Experience: An Analysis of Listening to Daytime Sketches
By: Herta Herzog

Chapter twenty-four describes why people choices certain radio daytime sketches to listen to and the impact the sketches how in their lives.

·      The radio programs were chosen based on the listener’s life problems
·      Listening to the sketches: offers an emotional release, allows the individual to wishfully remodeling their life while doing one’s chores, and listening provides an ideology and adjustment
·      Applying the story lines to their lives

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Social Role of Social Media

           The article by Lazarsfeld and Merton about mass communication, popular taste, and organized social action explained the shift in public interest appears to be the product of several social trends. In this trend, mass media appears as a comprise for powerful instrument and the absent of adequate control. However, mass media cannot prevent the bias charged by the powerful interest groups in the society, and also, it is a formidable figures. People could turn on the TV or radio but listen to nothing. It is not a mass owned commodity that really stands for the public interest. However, the popularity of social media affect the society so profoundly as is widely supported.
In the social network, the message works as a plausible promise (Eric Raymond), sharing is more like a cooperation process, and socialites work as a core capability in human beings. Thus, the on-line commitment to social events became more emotional rather than financial. Such as people don’t expect pay back by editing Wikipedia, normal citizens posted pictures form tsunami in Indian Ocean and boom in London subway without any intention of getting benefit, and people shared and forwarded pictures of missing people in Japan after the giant earthquake just because of sympathy. It is a fully supported media by the society.
A Successful campaign was happened in China’s “Twitter”: Weibo. It is estimated that 20,000 children are abducted every year in China. Some of them were sold to couples who are not able to produce, while others are forced to beg on the street. Jianrong Yu, a professor from China's Academy of Social Sciences started a campaign called Take a picture, save the abducted children on Weibo to encourage people to take pictures of any under-aged children begging on the street since they might be the missing or abducted children. A lot of Chinese celebrities and newspapers on Weibo re-tweeted the information of this campaign. In only six days, the official Weibo page of this campaign received 415 pictures. More than 3 million tweets and re-tweets pictures of begging children were posted. Some parents recognized their missing kids from the posted pictures. Latter, the police department also involved and came to the locations where were reported by the tweets to investigate whether the children were abducted.

Translation 1: 3:00pm at Feb 1, 2011 (time), Shanggangxu (place), I saw a father and his song were singing for living. The son was singing most of the time. His right hand was disabled. His father showed his ID. The boy was born at 2004. (419 Forward)
Translation 2: at 10:40, Jan 29, 2011 (time), I saw two boys was on the subway from Delong in Shanghai (place). He seemed disappointed  because he didn't get too much money compare to his follows. (116 forwards)

This is the biggest on-line unorganized social campaign that has ever happened in China’s Internet history. Weibo works as a platform by involving free and ambition participants to use cell phones to take pictures of begging children everywhere. People engaged in this event without financial incentive but the sense of socialites, self-fulfillment and sympathies. Social attention becomes a new leverage for bad behaviors such as abdicating children and forcing begging. All these contribute to a positive reinforcement of attention into this social campaign.
       However, as mentioned in the article by Wiener, In connection with effective amount of communal information, the body politic is extremely lack of efficient homoeotic processes. As an opposite of this successful campaign, many homeless families reported that they were forced to separate with their children on the street, because the passengers will take pictures of their children and they have to go to the police department for investigation in order to bring their children back. 

Mind Control

An excerpt from Nazi Propaganda and Violence (29):

Since the Nazis believe that the immediate sensory experience that participation provides exerts a more powerful influence on man's attitudes than arguments do, they use every verbal propaganda technique that fosters the illusion of immediacy and concreteness. Hence their preference for the spoken rather than the written word, for eye-witness reports rather than summary accounts, for a personalized presentation of the news rather than sober, impersonalized discussion, for illustration rather than explanation. Since the Nazis are also convinced of the suggestive power of the individual, they encourage group listening rather than individual listening. Since they are convinced that the human mind can be manipulated into habits, they prefer repetition to amplification. And frequently they use 'magic' words, the meaning of which is impervious to reason but which evoke a state of emotional gratification.

This text can be read and interpreted in different ways, but when I read it what came to mind especially for the underlined parts, was the the t.v. show The Office. I felt that the pranks Jim played on Dwight were something very similar to this concept.

The Office - The Jim Trains Dwight
Get More: The Office - The Jim Trains Dwight


29. Nazi Propaganda and Violence (1944)

Ernst Kris and Hans Speier

The book, German Radio Propaganda, written by several authors, sheds insight into the workings of German propaganda. This section of the book that is supplied in the reading gives an overview of the book, how Nazi propaganda was used, the way it elevated Hitler to a god-like status in the eyes of the Nazi Germans.

· Propaganda is not directly linked to physical violence. The people dispensing the propaganda are too busy making the threats to act on it. However, the reason why it works is because of the power it holds over those who receive it, it has the ability to incite fear or coerce action.

· The goal of propaganda is not to threaten but to boost the people’s trust and belief in their government’s authority to the extent of blind following, to the point where the people stop questioning the actions and agenda of the government and instead fully believe in the system. However, this is generally easier when the government in question is largely successfully but when failures are numerous the propaganda then relies on deception (careful selection of words, emphasis, use of boasting, empty promises, flattery, pretense of righteousness, studied enthusiasm, lies, inventions, etc), and when this is not enough, Goebbels (Minister of Propaganda) retells old stories of victory, to make sure that the people’s view of the government remains positive

· The difference between Nazi propaganda and propaganda from other countries at war is dictatorship vs. democracy.

· Propaganda serves to hold the country’s leader in a god-like status, attributing all success and moments of adverted crisis’s to his ingenuity, it guarantees that the people have a deep and constant dependence on the leader.

· The use of propaganda in Nazi Germany was successful also because it was actively involved in the people’s lives, the attitudes of the people were closely watched, their entertainment was flooded with “magic words” that seeped into the people’s subconscious; they were convinced that the human mind could be manipulated this way, although they had overestimated the effects of propaganda and attributed their successes to hard work and not luck.

30. Biographies in Popular Magazines (1944)

Leo Lowenthal

Lowenthal said his study is based on the influx of biographies in the book market and a regular feature in popular magazines since before the WWI; how it became the next big thing since short stories and how “the interest in individuals has become a kind of mass gossip,” which brought him to the conclusion that this type of literature was made to fulfill a social need for gratification.

· There are three types of biographies:

o Spheres of:

§ Political life

· High interest in political figures at the time before WWI

§ Business and professions

§ Entertainments

· A biography makes it possible for a normal person to maintain a connection between his interest in the personal lives of others and important trends in history. In the period before WWI when the political figures of high interest, biographies were optimistic and the interest was on successful people.

· Today, biographies are not of “serious” people, all linked not to hard work and success but to matters that are directly or indirectly connected to leisure. People would only show interest in the average person if they are part of some sort of “human interest” situation. Biographies are no longer used as a means of orientation and education but rather as a way to access their dream world.

· The writings in biographies now, play on the reader’s passion, looking to find a way to connect with the reader, through insight into the subjects private life, some background, some intimate details about the subject like the color of their eyes, their hobbies, dislikes and likes, using a range of facts- people like facts, showing how they had to readjust their lifestyles, their way of acting and thinking, the cunning use of certain words to keep the reader constantly stimulated and wrapped in the reading, making the biography seem more personal as if it was a face-to-face conversation.

· Lowenthal concludes that the reader reads biographies to understand, gain insight into, the human or social secret of the historical process, however these biographies are misleading because they do not reveal all, they follow a certain predetermined script, they all tell basically the same story, because it is assumed that this is what they want to read, they retell the story the reader already knows.

31. The Negro Press (1944)

Gunnar Myrdal

This excerpt discusses the characteristics and significance of the Negro press of mid 20th century and the differences/similarities between the Southern and Northern Negro press, as well as that between the Negro press and other minority press.

· The first and foremost interest of the Negro press is the advancement of the race. (207)

· A central idea reflected from the Negro press is that this race considers itself as a part of America, but it has no voice in the American mainstream newspapers. (207)

· The opinions expressed in the Negro press are not directed by any central agency. Instead, they come from the readers themselves. (207)

· The Negro press expresses similar opinions all over the country. However, Southern press is generally more cautious and restrained while Northern press is more belligerent. (208)

· The Negro press is more than merely an expression of protest. Its significance lies in that it embraces the whole race world, creating a sense of strength and solidarity and a social reality for its people. (208)

· Other minority or foreign-language press expresses little desire to protest. On the contrary, the Negroes keep protesting because they think they are not treated like ordinary Americans, even though they are already culturally assimilated and speak English. (208)

· “It is a characteristic of the Negro press that if, on the one hand, it is provincial in focusing interest on the race angle, it, on the other hand, embraces the whole race world. The press defines the Negro group to the Negroes themselves.” (208)

32. A Social Critique of Radio Music (1945)

Theodor W. Adorno

Adorno points out in this excerpt that today’s radio music is actually a commodity, highly standardized and manipulated by publishers, and thus leads to the standardized enthusiasm and music taste of the listeners. It is a kind of pseudo-individualism.

· The foremost interest behind investigations like “how can we bring good music to as large a number of listeners as possible” is actually to manipulate the masses. (211)

· Some social critiques of radio music are problematic and of less meaning because they study audience’s attitudes without considering how far these attitudes reflect the social behaviors patterns and the societal structure as a whole. (211)

· Today’s music functions as a commodity, and it is not for satisfying listeners’ wants and needs, but for profit. It produces “commodity listening” of the audience. (212)

· One commodity character of music is its highly standardization, and it shrinks the freedom of choices and preserves the existing conditions of power. (212)

· “Music under present radio auspices serves to keep it listeners from criticizing social realities; in short, it has a soporific effect upon social consciousness.” (212)

· Listeners engage in retrogressive listening and thinking, which prevents the progress of real music and art. There is also a standardized enthusiasm among listeners. (213)

· “The identification of the successful with the most frequently played is thus an illusion – an illusion, to be sure, that may become an operating social force and in turn really make the much-played a success: because through such an identification the listeners follow that they believe to be the crowd and thus come to constitute one.” (214)

· The standardization in radio leads pseudo-individualism. (214)

33. The Social and Cultural Context (1946)

Robert K. Merton

· Previously established (antedated) images affect responses as much, if not more than actual utterances (p. 215).

· Sources/Context of cultural values help us consider the nature of the social structures in which such sentiments emerge (p. 215).

· Social and cultural bases of public images are important in understanding the process of persuasion (p. 216).

· Gemeinschaft—genuine community of values is often impeded upon by pseudo-Gemeinschaft (how to influence people through the pretense of friendship.”) (p.216).

· Society, which often produces a sense of alienation and estrangement, also produces an acute need to believe, a flight into faith (p. 216); figures often become the object of this faith when seen as genuine by those seeking redemption from the spurious (p. 216).

· It’s no easy task to discriminate between the pretense and the reality. Thus an avid search for cues, which testify to one or the other, is necessary (p. 217).

· Figures (celebrity or entertainers, etc.) are not mere entertainers but are representative as symbols who “demonstrate” moral behavior that induce loyal aggregates; presenting a kaleidoscopic set of images to the audience provides a diversity of gratification for those not overly secure in a success-oriented culture (p. 217).

34. The Requirements (1947)

Hutchins Commission

· What does a free society require? Both internally and externally, the assumed leading role (of UNESCO) is to attempt to establish peaceful relationship among all the states on the globe (p. 218).

· Our society needs:

· Truthful, comprehensive, and intelligent account of the day’s events in a context that gives them meaning.

· A forum for the exchange of comment and criticism.

· A means of projecting the opinions and attitudes of the groups in the society to one another.

· A method of presenting and clarifying goals and values of the society

· A way of reaching every member of the society by the currents of information, thought, and feeling which the press supplies.

· #1 (p. 219)

  • · Media should be accurate. They should not lie
  • · There is no fact without a context and factual report which is uncolored by the opinions of the reporter (are necessary)
  • · Greatest danger is the communication of information internationally.
  • · No longer enough to report the fact truthfully. It is now necessary to report the truth about the fact.

· #2 (p. 219-220)

  • · Agencies of mass communication should regard themselves as common carriers of public discussion.
  • · It’s vital to a free society is an “idea” should not be stifled by the circumstances of its birth.
  • · All “important” viewpoints and interests in the society should be represented in its agencies of mass communication.
  • · Unchallenged assumptions of groups in society will continue to harden into prejudice IF the “ideal combination” of general media presenting their own views, but setting forth other views fairly as well.

· #3 (p. 220)

  • · When images portrayed fail to present the social group truly, they tend to pervert judgment.
  • · The “plugging” of special colored words (ruthless, etc.) performs inevitably the same image-making function.
  • · Responsible performance of images are repeated and emphasized in total representation of the social group as it is.

· #4 (p. 220-221)

  • · Press has a similar responsibility with regard to the values and goals of society as a whole.
  • · No sentimentality or manipulation of facts is necessary for the purpose of “painting a rosy picture”; realistic reporting and being agencies of mass communication that function as educational instruments is necessary.

· #5 (p. 221)

  • · We can inform only by making information available to everybody
  • · All citizens at all times will NOT actually use all of the material they receive; people voluntarily delegate analysis and decision to leaders they trust.

35. Mass Media (1947)

Julian Sorrell Huxley

Huxley was the first director of the United Nations Educational, Social, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He wrote this paper in which he outlined his vision for the newly created international organization. According to Huxley, the guiding philosophy of UNESCO should be World Evolutionary Humanism. The purpose of UNESCO is to mentally prepare the world for global political unification under a single world government. In this article, Huxley instructs the use of mass media to pursue the aims of UNESCO.

· What are the main effects of these innovations (mass media) of which UNESCO must take account?

· Possibility of a much wider dissemination of information

· Censorship could be a problem – control of press to create barriers in people’s minds

· Interests and needs are transnational

· The need for peace is beyond all other interests and needs

· Must demonstrate peace – not just preach it.

· Give people a simple philosophy of existence which will spur them to act in place of apathy or cynicism.

· UNESCO should use mass media to foster education, science and culture.

· Mass media fall into the same category as libraries and museums

· Undertake a study of the real effects of radio and film on illiterate people.

· Enlist the press, radio and cinema to the fullest extent in the service of formal and adult education, of art and culture, of science and learning.

· See that the agencies are used both to contribute to mutual comprehension between different nations and cultures, and promote the growth of common outlook shared by all national and cultures.

36. The Enormous Radio (1953)

John Cheever

This short story was originally published in the New Yorker in 1947 is the story of the Westcotts, a couple who love to listen to “serious” music on the radio. When their old ratio dies, Jim Westcott purchases a new radio and has it delivered to their house. They soon discover that they can hear more than music on their new radio, but they can listen in on conversations and arguments of the people who live in their apartment building.

· The new radio is ugly: “She was struck at once with the physical ugliness of the large gumwood cabinet. Irene was proud of her living room, she had chosen its furnishings and colours as carefully as she chose her clothes, and now it seemed to her that the new radio stood among her intimate possessions like an aggressive intruder.”

· It was difficult to hear the music she loved, because she was intimidated by the dials and switches, and the radio picked up interference: “The rattling of the elevator cables and the opening and closing of the elevator doors were reproduced in her loudspeaker, and realizing that the radio was sensitive to electrical currents of all sort, she began to discern through the Mozart the ringing of telephone bells, the dialing of phones, and the lamentation of a vacuum cleaner.”

· They called a repair man and after he had “fixed” the radio they discovered they could overhear conversations: “Jim turned to another station, and the living room was filled with the uproar of a cocktail party that had overshot its mark.”

· They spent their time listening, not to music but to their neighbors until one day when Jim came home, Irene was distraught: Jim said, “You know you don’t have to listen to this sort of thing, it’s indecent, it’s like looking in windows. You know you don’t have to listen to this sort of thing. You can turn it off. “Irene said, “Oh, it’s so horrible, it’s so dreadful. I’ve been listening all day and it’s so depressing.”

· Soon, they turned into the couples they were listening to with their shouting out their own problems and secrets: “Irene stood for a minute before the hideous cabinet, disgraced and sickened, but she held her hand on the switch before she extinguished the music and the voices, hoping that the instrument might speak to her kindly, that she might hear the Sweeneys’ nurse. Jim continued to shout at her from the door. The voice on the radio was suave and noncommittal.”

37. Mass Communication, Popular Taste, and Organized Social Action (1948)

Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Robert K. Merton

This article attempts to understand the effects of media for those concerned about control of propaganda in post war times. The authors argue that mass media’s social role is comprised of three functions: conferring status on issues, persons, organizations and movements; reinforcing social norms by publicizing deviation; and shifting an audience’s time and energy toward consumption of information and away from organized action informed by such information.

· Social Concern with the Mass Media

· The ubiquity and potential power of the mass media

· The mass media, with its access to an enormous audience, might affect an unconditional surrender of critical faculties and an unthinking conformism.

· The technically advanced instruments of mass communication might lead to the deterioration of esthetic tastes and popular cultural standards.

· The Social Role of the Machinery of Mass Media

· It is out tentative judgment that the social role played by the very existence of the mass media has been commonly overestimated.

· While we can evaluate numerically the extent of mass media consumption, we cannot make an implicit correlative assumption about the relationship between that consumption and the effects of that consumption.

· Some Social Functions of the Mass Media

· Status-Conferral Function: media confer status on public issues, persons, organizations and social movements; media bestow prestige and enhance the authority of individuals and groups by legitimizing their status; legitimizes selected policies, persons and groups which receive the support of mass media.

· Enforcement of Social Norms: no organized social action is taken with respect to behavior deviant from a social norm unless there is public announcement of the deviation; Social norms prove inconvenient for individuals in society; they militate against the gratification of wants and impulses; the emergence of deviant behavior and private toleration of these deviations; they can continue only so long as one is not in a situation where one must take a public stand for or against the norms. Media serve to affirm social norms by exposing deviations from these norms to public view.

· The Narcotizing Dysfunction: It is termed dysfunctional rather than functional on the assumption that it is not in the interest of modern complex society to have large masses of the population politically apathetic and inert. Exposure to a flood of information serves to narcotize rather than to energize the average reader or listener.

· The Structure of Ownership and Operation

· Social Conformism: Since commercially sponsored mass media promote a largely unthinking allegiance to our social structure, they cannot be relied upon to work for changes in that structure.

· Impact Upon Popular Taste: Disciplined research

· Propaganda for Social Objectives: monopolization; canalization rather than change of basic values and supplementary face to face contact.

· Monopolization: When there is little or no opposition in media to the diffusion of values, policies or public images. Occurs in absence of counter propaganda.

· Canalization: Media communication have been effective used to canalize basic attitudes, but there is little evidence of their having served to change these attitudes.

· Supplementation: Media can be effective at propaganda for social objectives when the central supply of propaganda works in conjunction with local organizations facilitating face-to-face talks and personal relations.

38. Communication Research and the Social Psychologist (1948)

Paul F. Lazarsfeld

This passage is a table that "reveals [Lazarfeld's] vision for the study of communication in the immediate postwar period." It compares several different types of communication to the kinds of effects it has -- short term and long term, and immediately. (242)

39. Information , Language, and Society (1948)

Norbert Wiener -- an aloof science genius.

Wiener compares communication to different processes of the body and/or behaviors of races.

· Wiener explains that organizations/living things are made up of smaller units/cells that have the same attributes as the whole.

o Intercommunication makes independent organisms (i.e. bees) work as one/act in unison.

o Intercommunication with man involves language and literature, with ants smells (chemical messages).

· The messages (i.e. odors and language) lead to a "standardized course of conduct" but the effectiveness of the message is dependent on the composition of the message, sender and receiver.

o Messages are more than language — we can understand things from actions, emotion, interest, etc. -- even when we speak a different language than the sender. (244)

· Information, when dispersed amongst a group, modifies behavior.

o Information contained by a group is not always available -- it only disseminates as far as the autonomy of the group allows. (245)

· Long established groups are homeostatic. Those that exceed the "average" usually end up leaving the group. (246)

· "…any organism is held together by the possession of means for the acquisition, use, retention, an transmission of information." (p246)

o In large societies these means are the press (books and newspapers), radio, telephone, telegraph, posts, theatre, movies, schools and church.

Because larger communities are concerned with money and power, they contain much less "communal" information than smaller communities. Many of these means of communication are driven by someone making money… (books the publisher; radio the advertiser, etc. (247)

40. Consensus and Mass Communication(1948)

Louis Wirth


“The sense of belonging and of participation which smaller and more compactly organized groups are able to generate is hence largely frustrated by the very size of the typical organizations of our time. This is perhaps a price we must be willing to pay for living in an interdependent and technologically highly advanced world. […] …It is to a large extent upon the ability to maintain effective contact between the members and two-way communication between the leaders and the membership of these giant structures that the future of democracy rests” (pp. 250-251).

Main Claims:

· Mass societies are a modern phenomena brought on by mass communication, democracy, integration, and the division of labor.

· Characteristics of “the mass” are: it is comprised of a great number of people; the masses are widely dispersed across the earth; the mass is heterogeneous and diverse in both background and occupation; the mass is made up of an aggregate of anonymous individuals who with the aid of mass media are able to create a bandwagon effect in relation to public opinion; the mass is not an organized group with a recognized leader and struggles to act collectively; the mass is not governed and is therefore unpredictable; and the mass is made up of individuals who each play their own separate role.

· Because masses are such complicated, diverse groups, they are unstable and the shifts of public opinion create a challenge for the already “complicated machinery of administration” (pg. 251).

· Consensus, particularly in cultural, industrial, and international relations is problematic within the mass but governing bodies have been quick to use mass communication and propaganda to mold public attitudes and opinion.

· America, as a mass, is determined to achieve consensus across lines of race and culture, and with the emergence and ethical use of different forms of mass communication can be capable of making contributions towards achieving world consensus.

· Technology itself is not to blame for any negative effects that have or will arise from the advancement of mass communication, but rather how humans choose to use this technology to manipulate the masses.

41. What ‘Missing the Newspaper’ Means (1949)

Bernard Berelson


”People are not only more conscious of what the newspaper means to them during such a “shock” period [the newspaper strike] than they are under normal conditions, but they also find it easier to be articulate about such matters” (p. 255).

“Presumably, the regular contact with the world through the columns of the newspaper gave this person [a private secretary] the feeling that she was participating in the running of the world. But when the newspaper was withdrawn, she realized that her little contribution was not being missed” (p. 260).

Main Claims:

· Berelson aimed to go beyond the generic answers that the general public give for polls on matters of current events and public opinion through capitalizing upon a recent New York newspaper strike by means of conducting psychoanalytic research to ascertain exactly what emotions people experienced with the loss of their primary form of mass media.

· According to Berelson’s qualitative interviews, the general public indicated that they viewed the newspaper as a source of “serious” information but that they did not miss it for this reason, but rather for the functions that it served in their daily lives.

· These functions that the people felt the newspaper served included: a means for reading about and interpreting social opinion; as a tool of support within their daily life; as a means of entertainment, escape, or relaxation; it provided conversational fodder for maintaining a certain level of social prestige, it acted as a means for social contact (or perceived social contact) and a shared common experience amongst the masses; it fulfilled the pleasurable desire to read without overly constraining one’s time; it was accessible and cheap; and reading the daily newspaper became a (oftentimes compulsive or ritualistic) habit that made individuals feel in control within a rapidly changing, complex society.