Theoretical and Methodological Problems Associated With Viewing Media in Terms of Effects

1820 WordsJun 22, 20188 Pages
What different kinds of “effects” can the media have, and what are the theoretical and methodological problems associated with viewing media in terms of effects? Discuss in relevance to research. ‘One of the first and most important assumptions of the study of mass communication has been the presumption that media and their content have significant and substantial effects’ (Perse, E.M. 2001: 3). The topical debate and concerns of ‘media effects’ has had a long history. ‘Mass communication could become the basis for people’s view of the world’ (Lippman, 1922)4. This quote demonstrates that in the early 1900s scholars were concerned with media’s dominant ability to influence audiences. As new mediums have come into play, opinions on the…show more content…
The Frankfurt School was formed in around the 1920’s in Germany, which collectively involved scholars such as Adorno, Marcuse and Horkheimer. These scholars coined the term ‘mass culture’ and/or ‘culture industry’, which described media as creating a social dominance and a great influence on audiences3. This work was influenced by and linked to Karl Marx’s alienation theory whereby workers in industry lose any sense of individuality or control over their working lives and therefore workers become autonomous, as a result of capitalism. This loss of individuality is linked to the decline in privatisation whereby individuals become overly dependent on mass organisations such as the mass media. They came up with concept ‘hypodermic needle model’ of media effects. This was a model that implied that messages from the mass media were directly injected into the passive receivers and these people accepted the messages. This may be a theoretical problem as they assumed that the audience were wholly passive and fully believed the mass media’s ideas. But not all members of the audience are passive. A great early example of this is Orson Welle’s radio adaptation of the ‘War of the Worlds’ in 1938 (a science fiction book), six million listened to the CBS broadcast. Welle’s adaptation sounded like it was a news broadcast which caused the audience to panic, many to flee their homes and few numbers to commit suicide, as they had interpreted the radio adaptation as a real news

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