The Effects Of Mass Communication On A Critical Branch Of Sociological Thought From 20th Century Social Thought

1262 Words Nov 5th, 2015 6 Pages
The Psychologism of Abstracted Empiricism
Having discussed potions of the intellectual inheritance of cognitive behaviourism from 20th century social thought, I now want to turn my attention to a critical branch of sociological thought from the same period to assist in analysing this set of ideas. C. Wright Mills worked in the immediate post war period as a research assistant to Elihu Katz and Paul Lazarsfeld’s research on the media effects of mass communication. The majority of their work sought to understand the persuasive influence of mediated messages in print and broadcast communication technologies to shape and control the ideas, attitudes, and behaviors of members of a society. Aside from findings that indicated that the media effect of mass communication sat in concert, if not over-determined, by other factors such as differentiated cultural practice of composite audiences and their agency, Mills, rightly, never was shook his distaste for behaviorism and its presuppositions.
Shaped by this post-war infatuation with coding mass behaviour and his critique thereof, in The Sociological Imagination, Mills identified the emergence of Grand Theory (the term Mills used to mock Talcott Parsons’s work) and Abstracted Empiricism (a comment on Daniel Bell’s work.) Stemming from his close experience with large public opinion survey research, he was dissatisfied with the attempt to induce correlative relations but at the expense of understanding social forces. With an excessive…
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