Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Part III: readings 42 - 55

#42: Industrialism and Cultural Values

From: The Bias of Communication (1950)

Harold A. Innis


Considered Canada’s seminal theorist of communication

McLuhan was his disciple

“In his view, modern civilization had dangerously lost its moorings, trading the stability of time for the empire of space and happoly rolling toward its self-destruction.”


Understanding culture:

Each culture is obsessed with its own uniqueness (this may be their downfall)

We attempt to understand other cultures through the context of our own which is dangerous

“Cultural activity... becomes an index of power.”

Specialization and excess versus balance and proportion

The Greeks lived by the maxim “nothing in excess” and sought balance and proportion, but modern culture is always seeking increased efficient and improvement (“making more and better mouse traps” p279)

Constant communication-related technological changes (especially at their rapidly increasing rates) make it difficult to identify and seek balance in our culture.

“Stability which characterized certain periods in earlier civilizations is not the obvious objective of this civilization. Each civilization has its own method of suicide.” (p 280)

#43. Emerging from Magic

From: Hollywood: The Dream Factory (1950)

Hortense Powdermaker


Possibly the first cultural anthropologist to study mass media (interesting perspective)


Hollywood’s uniqueness

Hollywood as an anomaly in our society (doesn’t mirror our cultural patterns)

Ability to span all ages of mankind and all ages of man

Animism: primitive man attributed human attitudes to inanimate entities to understand them; Hollywood does the opposite by associating inanimate traits with human begins (inverted form of animism; these objects become property and “contribute to the goal of wealth” p 281)

Magical thinking

Has faded in overall culture, though still present

Much stronger presence in Hollywood (ex: the concept of “breaks” and the emphasis placed on luck)

Profitability over creativity

“Hollywood is an industry, but daydreams are its product and these cannot be successfully produced as if they were cans of beans.” (p 284)

A system has been developed to “mechanize” the process of creating and delivering a successful film

Power is held by executives not be creatives (especially writers with whom the plot and story originate)

#44: Storytellers as Tutors in Technique

From: The Lonely Crowd (1950)

David Riesman, with Reul Denney and Nathan Glazer


The book captures the spirit of a moment when Americans were uneasy about the changes wrought by suburbanization, consumption, prosperity and mass media

Concepts of being “inner-directed” and “outer-directed”

Inner-Directed- those guided by internal mechanisms

Outer-Directed- those who look toward other people and mass media for orientation


Focus on mass media’s language and imagery and their effects on child audiences

Storytellers “picture the world for the child and thus give both form and limits to his memory and imagination” (p. 294)

Oral Traditions

Storytelling varies from person to person because people tailor their own version to the taste and disposition to the audience—room for interpretation

Effect on kids: Children can correct the teller, criticize the theme, elaborate the narrative or ask questions to develop their own likings

“Stories make it possible for the face-to-face group which is charged with socialization of the young to draw on a cultural warehouse that provides models for behavior not to be found completely in any given face-to-face group.” (p. 296)


“Character-Building”- print told people what they ought to be like

Allowed kids to “try on” adult behaviors

Etiquette, Ambition, Parallels, Class Differences, Stereotypes, Biography

Effect on kids: took a more active part in forming their own character by selecting different readings and making own interpretations (inner-directed)

Danger to kids: “oversteering” – setting them on a course they could not realistically follow (lofty, imaginative, unrealistic)

BUT…the exploration of print is also liberating—frees kids from values of family/primary group and self-emancipate

Other-Direction (radio, movies, records, comic books, magazines)

How the story takes place affects the listener and the content of the media

“The other-directed child is trained to be sensitive to interpersonal relations, and often he understands these with a sophistication few adults had in the era of inner-direction” (p. 303)

Concepts of Ambition vs. Antagonistic Cooperation

Ambition-a striving for fame or for goodness but always for clear goals: to get the job to win the battle, to build the bridge

Antagonistic Cooperation- the important thing is not the goal but the relationship to the “others”

Comic books and other forms of media offer a sense of realism

“The very books that are intended to acquaint children with the objects and forces of the industrial society turn out to condition them to their role in the consumers’ union.” (p. 306)

But…young people see individualism as an achievement of having one’s contribution recognized

#45: Our Next Frontier…Transoceanic TV

From Look (1950)

David Sarnoff


Sarnoff was a general during WWII

Belied that commercial media and democracy naturally go together

Vision for the strategic role of TV as an arm of US Foreign Policy


Sarnoff states that “television promises to today to open up new horizons” (p. 309)

Will show the violent reality of battlefields to those back home

1st hand experiences for sports, international meetings, etc.

Reality of a “general brotherhood” among all people

Feels that TV will foster/spread democracy

Combine sound (radio) + sight (TV) for impact

“To be believed, the American way of life must be seen as well as heard” (p. 309)

A TV network system could not be as easily jammed from remote areas as radio broadcasts were by Soviet stations

Coaxial cable projects could transmit TV, radio, telephone conversations worldwide

“The reward for such progress will be the greatest opportunity ever given us for creating close ties of understanding among the peoples of the world and for helping to preserve peace.” (p. 310)

46. “Communication in the Sovietized State, as Demonstrated in Korea” by Wilbur Schramm and John W. Riley Jr.

Schramm and Riley outline the strong and permeating control of communist communications in North, and most specifically South Korea. The three principles used by the communists included:

1. Communicative Monopoly: all non-communist material was to be removed.

2. Concentration of Communications: communist messages should be repeated.

3. Reinforcement of Message: Communists should reinforce their message in the media using all possible means, including, but not limited to punishment (312).

Control of communications was done through “ownership, supervision, and surveillance” (313). All communication should be “politically purposeful” (313, 314), even that communication for entertainment like radio and television.

Russia seemed to permeate itself more passively too such as making schools more accessible and molding the curriculum so the subjects remained the same but altered to include a communist focus (314-315). The Party reached out to all facets of life in order to seem inclusive such as reaching organizations for women, youth, laborers, and more.

The Party also gathered information about the people (317), like an advertising agency, in order to target their audience a little better better.

47. The Consumer’s Stake in Radio and Television by Dallas Smythe

As Peters and Simonson write, this article by Dallas Smythe has Marxian tones, particularly when Smythe writes that “the consumer must look to federal authority to protect this interest” (320) in regards to televisions standards of service. Of course as a member of the FCC, Smythe would speak of it with such authority. Smythe begins the article discussing the complexity of television that would be too difficult for the consumer to understand in terms of programming, advertising, quality measures, and even television receiver set requirements. He cites the issue of color television as one particular category where the government had to intervene to television manufacturers to build color receiving sets because CBS encouraged it.

Then Chairman Coy of the FCC cites in the FCC Blue Book seven points as essential elements to a station’s programming:

1. Assistance in Civic Improvements

2. Promotion of educational and cultural opportunities

3. Integrity of station’s news

4. Fairness of the presentation of controversial issues

5. Enterprise and zeal in promoting good community relations and interracial understanding

6. Wholesomeness of the entertainers and their sense of responsibility as visitors at the family hearth

7. Advertising on the station; its reliability, its good taste, its listen-ability, its excesses (324)

Smythe took these 7 points and analyzed New York City stations finding the number of stations that met Mr. Coy’s points to be minimal at best.

48. The Unique Perspective of Television and Its Effect: A Pilot Study by Kurt Lang and Gladys Engel Lang (1952)

Lang and Lang conduct a study examining the contrast between actually experiencing an event versus receiving an event on a television screen (329). They conduct this experience by recording observers in various locations for MacArthur Day in Chicago. One of the first items noticed was that expectations of viewers and observers tended to be shaped by mass media, i.e. if they were told an event was to be controversial, they expected it to be and this tended to set them up for disappointment if not experienced (330-331). However, television tended to try to preserve the original expectation rather than disappoint the viewer (332).

Television is able to move cameras and move the order of events to deem what is important and create its own interpretation of an event. Lang and Lang conclude that the “camera selects and thereby leaves the unseen part of the subject open to suggestion and inference” with gaps “filled in by a commentator” (335). They conclude that television content has:

1. Technological bias (structuring of cameras and angles, etc.)

2. Announcer bias (structuring of an event by the commentary needed to tie the event together)

3. Reciprocal effects wherein the event is modified by staging to make it more suited for telecasting(335)

49. Technology and Political Change

From Marshall McLuthan

1.Modern communications have accelerate the world, socially and intellectually.

Any form of communication, such as writing, speaking, or gesture, has its own aesthetic mode. It has a great effect of what you can say because it selects the audience to whom you can say it (339).

The time and space was extended in modern communication. Thus, the number of those able to decipher the massage was decreased (339).

2. Writing, printed books, newspaper, radio, and television.

Writing affected the nature of social communication and control by extending the audience by rapid multiplication and permitting a process of private analysis and contemplation (339).

daily news paper (the mechanization of writing) naturally determined the format of the press and effect the consequence of democracy. it changed the characteristic of printed book (339).

News paper exists as a late stage in the mechanization of writing, which occurs easily in radio (the mechanization of speech) and television, which covered both space, time, and history (340).

The intimacy and immediacy of the flexible television camera and screen are much less favorable to the star system which supported by movie camera and giant screen (343).

3. McLuthan is best known as the person who developed the phrase “the global village” (338). The condition of he man of today is called world citizenship (339).

Culture is communication network (340).

As we aware of components of communication revolution, we shall discover our social life in our private life. There is no past that is dead (342).

All cultures are equal. All cultures past or present are equal in inter-social communication (342).

50. The Theory of Mass Culture

Dwight Macdonald

Criticism of masses:

The loads of mass culture: exploit the cultural needs of the masses in order to make a profit and /or to maintain their class rule (344).

Mass Culture in U.S.S.R: it is manufactured for mass consumption by technicians employed by the ruling class and is not an expression of either the individual artists or the common people (344).

Mass culture break down old barriers of class, tradition, taste, and dissolve culture distinctions, finally destroy the values (345).

Unity is essential in art. It cannot be achieve by a production line of specialists, however competent. But in the movies, only director can even be in such a position which a single brain is on commend (348).

From idols of production to idols of consumption: the mass man seems to stand for an attitude which ask for no more than served with things (reproduction & recreation) and an attitude lost every interest in how to invest, shape, apply the tools leading to mass satisfaction (349).

As human are orgnized as masses, they lose their human identity and quality: a large quantity of people who are not related to each other, are unable to express themselves.-“the lonely crowd” (350).

Standardization makes what may have begun as something fresh and original is repeated until it becomes a nerveless routine.

Concepts of mass culture

Academicism: attempt to compete by imitation; Avantgardism: compete by imitation

Avangrade created cultural elite (346).

Avangrade is now dying becuase they are suffocated by the competing mass culture (internal) and

Little reason of expecting Avantagardism result in the absence of stable cultural tradition, blurring of class lines, and greater marketing/facilities for mass communication (351).

Comic book case: the blur age line of comics is caused by the extremely modest demands they made on audience's culture equipment (348).

51. Slight, Sound, and Fury

Marshall McLuhan

American culture mainly associate with printed book while European culture was as much an affair of music, painting, sculpture, and communication as it was of literature. However, new media seems has a greater sway in North America (353).

The printing

picture book is “the museum without wall” (354) while speedily expanded readings quickly reduce the habit of oral disclosure as a way of learning (355).

Printing, the content of news paper, the messages and information fostered nationalism, but photography, music, and paintings leap over nations, for good and ill (355).

Before printing, a reader discerned and probed riddle. After printing, we have to equate reading skills with speed and distraction rather than wisdom (356).

The “World Village”

Faster communication: from ancient road to written books (an easier transport way), then to newspapers and telegraphy, transfer over the sea in hours and minutes (355).

move from production of package of goods to package of information. *”information invasion” (345).

Form of newspaper is intercultural and international. regardless time, political line, and place, the world today is one city, all war is civil war, and all suffering is our own.

Modern Technology

Mechanization of writing (printing), speech (telephone), human gesture (photography), and total expression (TV) (357).

The press of daily cross-session of the global is the mirror of technological instruments of communication (355).

Modern technology pressures a total transformation. The defense of human values must be located in analytical awareness of the nature and involved in human cognition (357).

e.g.: American speech culture: writing in 20th century move away from book-culture to oral communication. Radio in particular encourage panel discussion and round table (355).

Four sections of communication channel (356)

TV broadcast




52. Between Media and Mass

From Personal Influence (1955)

Elihu Katz and Paul F. Lazarsfeld

In this article, Katz and Lazarsfeld focus on factors measured as part of mass communication research motivated to answer the question “What can media ‘do’?” as it pertains to short-term influence (or campaigns). This specific reading from the article lays the groundwork for their argument that people are actually more influenced by their relationships and input from friends and acquaintances than from media.

Katz and Lazarsfeld begin by stressing that subdivisions of research (such as audience and content) are not separate, but interconnected pieces of the complete study of mass communication. They then lay out four intervening variables that were generally agreed upon to impact a person or group’s response to media:

1. Exposure (may be impacted by technology, political factors, economics and personal choice)

2. Channel or type of medium

3. Content (such as form, presentation, and language)

4. Predisposition (inherent or learned attitude, prejudice or bias)

They close this reading by presenting a fifth variable they feel has at least as much, if not more, impact on a person’s response to mass media: interpersonal relationships. They state, “We are suggesting, in other words that the response of an individual to a campaign cannot be accounted for without reference to his social environment and to the character of his interpersonal relations.” (p. 362)

53. The Theory of Mass Society: A Critique

From Commentary (1956)

Daniel Bell

This reading comes from Bell’s Cold-war presentation to the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a pro-democracy organization of artists, scientists and intellectuals opposed to totalitarianism and Nazism. Bell begins with a short overview of theories of mass society and concludes with points to illustrate that social change does not necessarily result in disorganization and instability.

Most of the overviews center on a similar point: that the evolution of a mass society has stifled individualism and will lead to fascism and easily-swayed masses. He extracts the impact of “mass media” (standardized material is transmitted to “all groups of the population uniformly”) in several statements:

The “mass” divorces – or “alienates” – the individual from himself. (p. 366)

… existence takes on a mask-like character: the steel helmet and the welder’s face-guard symbolize the individual’s disappearance into his technical function. (p. 366)

Mass society … is defined by the elimination of difference, by uniformity, aimlessness, alienation, and the failure of integration. (p. 366)

Bell closes the article talking specifically about America and mass society. He points out that the US is often (at that time) considered an atomized society of lonely isolated individuals – but that is quite contrary to the truth. He gives multiple examples of how our nation’s residents have driven social change without disorganization and instability and actually increased the sense of community.

The Justice for Cypress Committee’s show of support when Cypress was brought in front of the United Nations. (p. 370)

The increasing strength of local communities within Chicago as demonstrated in the number and circulation of community newspapers. (p. 370 - 371)

The increase in revenue spent on more diverse “culture” activities (symphony, books, museums, expansion of classical music, and higher education). (p. 371)

The rising number of divorces in the US could be attributed not to disorganization but to individual empowerment and the increase of free choice. (p. 371)

The proliferation of visible crime may be due not to social instability but to more widespread windows to crime through television, movies, etc. (p. 371)

54. Mass communication and Para-social interaction: “observation on intimacy at a distance,” from Psychiatry


Para-social relationship: face-to-face relationship between spectator and performer.(p. 372)

Para-social interaction: the simulacrum of conversational give and take.(p. 374)

TV & Radio: are hospitable to both these worlds in continuous interplay. They are alternately public platforms and theaters, extending the para-social relationship now to leading people of the world of affairs, now to fictional characters, sometimes even to puppets anthropomorphically transformed into “personalities” and finally to the atrical stars who appear in their capacities as real celebrities. The personalities exist only in the para-social relation. (p. 374)

2. The role of the Persona:

It offers a continuing relationship that is a regular and dependable events, to be counted on, planned for, and integrated into the routines of daily life. (p. 375)

Unlike real associates, persona has the peculiar virtue of being standardized according to the “formular” for his character and performance that will be embodied in the performance. The persona is ordinarily predictable and gives his adherents no unpleasant surprise.(p. 375)

3. The bond of intimacy:

Persona tries to maintain a small talk which gives the impression thru creating a bond of intimacy. (p. 376)

Relationship between persona and audience is one-sided and cannot be developed mutually. (p. 376)

4. The role of audience:

The persona and his staff maintain the para-social relationship, continually referring to and addressing the home audience as a third party to the program. (p. 377)

Spectator retains control over than content of his participation rather than surrendering control through identification with others.(p. 377)

The functions of the program for this audience are served not by the mere perception of it, but by the role-enactment that completes it. (p. 377)

Unless the audience can understand the explicit and implicit terms in the program, the role performances of the participants are meaningless to him. (p. 378)

55. “The Mass Society”, from The Power elite

1. The difference between public and mass:

As many people express opinions as many receive them (p. 389)

Public communication are well organized and there is a chance of answering back any opinion from the public effectively and immediately(p. 389)

Opinions formed in public readily finds its realization in the social action(p. 389)

Authoritative institutions do not penetrate the public.(p. 389)

In a community of public, discussion is the ascendant means of communication and mass media, if they exist, simply enlarge and animate discussion, linking one primary public with the discussion of another.(p. 389)


Far fewer people express opinion than receive them (p.390)

The communication that prevail are so organized that it is difficult or impossible for the individual to answer back immediately or effectively (p.390)

The realization of opinion in action is controlled by authorities who organize and control the channels of such who organize and control the channels of such action (p.390)

The mass has no autonomy from institution agents of authorized institutions penetrate this mass, reducing any autonomy it may have in the formation of opinion by discussion (p.390)

In a mass society, the dominant type of communication is the formal media and public become mere media markets.(p.390)

2 In the mass society of media markets, competition, if any, goes on between the manipulators with their mass media on the one hand, and the people receiving their propaganda on the other. In this case, public opinion is a mere reaction rather than “response” to the content of the mass media (p. 391)

3. One of the most important of the structural transformations involved in the transformation from public to mass society is the decline of the voluntary association as a genuine instrument of the public.


During the transformation from the public to the mass society, the public of public opinion has become the object of intensive efforts to control, manage, manipulate, and increasingly intimidate. (p. 393)

Men in masses are gripped by personal troubles, but they are not aware of their true meaning and source. Men in public confront issues, and they are aware of their terms. (p. 397)


The structural trends of modern society and manipulative character of its communication technique come to a point of coincidence in the mass society, which is largely a metropolitan society. (P. 398)

The top of modern American society if increasingly unified and often seems willfully coordinated: at the top here has emerged an elite of power. The middle levels are a drifting set of stalemated, balancing forces. the bottom of this society is politically fragmented and even as a passive fact, increasingly powerless: at the bottom there is emerging a mass society. (p. 400)

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