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COMM101 INTRODUCTION TO COMMUNICATION Instructor s Assist. Prof. Dr. Nurten Kara (Group1) & Assist. Prof. Dr. Melek Atabey (Group2). The Definition of Communication.

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COMM101INTRODUCTION TOCOMMUNICATIONInstructor sAssist. Prof. Dr. Nurten Kara (Group1)&Assist. Prof. Dr. Melek Atabey (Group2)
the definition of communication
The Definition of Communication
  • “Communication ranges from the mass media (i.e. newspapers, magazines, radio and television) and popular culture (books, music, films), through language to individual and social behaviour.” (J. Fiske)
the definition of communication1
The Definition of Communication

As John Fiske says,

  • it ''is talking to one another, it is television, it is spreading information, it is our hair style, (it is the way we dress, it is literary criticism.''
the definition of communication2
The Definition of Communication
  • Communication (n)

1. an act or an instance of communicating

2. a verbal or written message

3. a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behaviour . (Longman Dictionary)

the definition of communication3
The Definition of Communication
  • Communicate (vt)

1. to convey knowledge of or information about; make known

2. to cause to pass from one another (vi)

3. to transmit information thought, or feeling so that it is satisfactorily received or understood.

the definition of communication4
The Definition of Communication
  • Communications: 4. 'a system (e.g. telephones) for communicating

5.techniques for the effective transmission of information, ideas etc.

the definition of communication5
The Definition of Communication
  • Communication does not take place only between human beings because as living organisms animals too communicate with each other. And this is calledanimal communication.Here we will be concerned with human communication.

Why do we communicate?To survive.To work with others (cooperation).To satisfy our personal needs.To be involved with other people, to form and maintain relationships.To persuade other people to think in the way we do or to act in the way we do.To gain/exert power or to rebel against power.To give and receive information.To gain economic benefits.To make sense of the world and our experience of it.To decide on what we think and what we do.To express our imagination and ourselves to others.

importance of communication
Importance of communication
  • As a social being one cannot not communicate.Social = web of relations communication networks
  • Through communication, and through the relations of communication, we define individual and collective identities we become who we are in and through communication.
why is it difficult to define communication
Why is it difficult to define communication?

As one of the vital features of human beings, communication is experienced from the cradle to the grave and includes all of the intentional and unintentional dimensions in our relations with ourselves, with others, and with our environment.

  • Communication is as many-sided and complex as life itself.
  • Therefore, the complexity of communication defies a simple definition.
why is it difficult to define communication1
Why is it difficult to define communication?
  • In dealing with communication, we are confronted with a seemingly overwhelming amount of data, together with a number of competing academic perspectives.
  • Clearly, some choices have to be made in order to come up with a definition.
  • At the same time, however, the process of selection will always reveal the particular standpoint/viewpoint of the individual theorist making the definition.

1 Communication

  • Simplifying definitions: Models
  • A model of a communication process is “a consciously simplified description in graphic form of a piece of reality.”
  • Models are meant to provide “images of wholes” which we might otherwise be unable to perceive.

1 Communication

  • Simplifying definitions: Models
  • Harold Lasswell’s famous 5W formula of 1948 asks a number of simple questions that may be applied to any communication act:
elements factors of communication
Elements (Factors) of Communication
  • a message
  • an initiator (sender) )source, transmitter, encoder, addresser, author)
  • a medium (or media)
  • a mode/vehicle (channel)
  • a recipient (receiver) (decoder, decoder, addressee, reader)
  • an effect

1 Communication

  • Simplifying definitions: Models
  • Shannon & Weaver offer another model of communication:

1 Communication

  • Simplifying definitions: Models
  • Shannon & Weaver offer another model of communication:
  • The concept of “noise” was offered as an explanation for the external, mechanical interruptions and other difficulties communication must face along its linear route of transmission.

1 Communication

  • Simplifying definitions: Models
  • However, communication mishaps are not only caused when clear messages are distorted by external interference, as the Shannon & Weaver model suggests.
  • The message/signal itself, and the way in which it is expressed, already carries the seeds of misunderstanding.
  • The polysemic nature of language, for instance, implies that any and every understanding is at the same time, and necessarily so, a misunderstanding.

1 Communication

  • Simplifying definitions: Models
  • Dennis McQuail offers a more complex “simple” model:

1 Communication

  • Simplifying definitions: Models
  • McQuail later revised his model’s unilinear flow:

1 Communication

  • Simplifying definitions: Models
  • Models are simplified representations of reality.
  • We will discuss representations in general at a later stage in class.
  • For now, let us reflect on the following question: If what we want to study is a complex phenomenon, and if we want to represent it as it is, are we not doing it injustice by representing it as simple rather than as complex?
process of communication
Process of Communication
  • Sender decides message
  • Sender encodes message (encoding)
  • Receiver decodes message (decoding)
  • Receiver returns a signal to let the sender know whether the message has or has not been understood. (feedback)
process of communication1
Process of Communication

The content of any message depends very much on:

  • The intention
  • The available language or symbolic forms
  • The context
  • The communicative possibilities or discourses
features of communication
Features of Communication
  • It is everywhere.
  • It is continuous.
  • It involves the sharing of meaning.
  • It contains predictable elements.
  • It occurs more than one level
  • It occurs amongst both equals and unequals.
means of communication
Means of Communication
  • Forms of communication (Visual images, pictures, the spoken word, the written word, body language, gestures are different forms of communication)
  • Media of communication (telephone, face to face communication, television, radio, magazines, newspapers, books, letters)
j fiske s categories of media
J. Fiske’s Categories of Media
  • The presentational media (the voice, the face, the body)
  • The representational media(books, paintings, photographs, writing, architecture, interior designing, gardening etc. )
  • The mechanical media(telephones, radio, television, telexes)

1 Communication

  • Why is it difficult to define communication? Why are there so many different definitions?
  • Every definition—by definition—necessarily leaves out and excludes some other aspect of our social communication network by drawing the boundary of communication in one way or another.
  • Also, new socio-cultural and technological developments are—necessarily—not included in older definitions.
  • Definitions, necessarily, give a limited perspective. limit = boundary

1 Communication

  • Why is it difficult to define communication? Why are there so many different definitions?
  • Definitions in social sciences and humanities—as in all other sciences—reflect particular perspectives or points of view.
  • Concepts in their respective disciplines can only be defined within the frame of different and differing approaches.
  • And in the field of communication studies there are many approaches drawn from many disciplines with different definitions of communication.

1 Communication

  • Some different approaches to communication
  • Communication as an art.
  • Communication as a linear process.(Theories of transmission of meaning/content).
  • Communication as an exchange(of meaning/content).
  • Communication as a collective/commonwealth generation of meaning/content.

Differing definitions of the field of study

Inter-disciplinary(interaction with outside disciplines; individual disciplines are left intact). However, note that the space of “inter” is already a different space than the spaces of the distinct disciplines that are brought together.

Multi-disciplinary(more than one discipline in the field, interaction that may or may not bring about mutual transformation).

TransdisciplinaryPorous borders; disciplines are re-shaped again and again.


Varied forms and means of communication

  • Language
  • Discursive / Textual (Speech / Writing)
  • Print (Mechanical mass reproduction) (“Gutenberg galaxy”)
  • Digital (Irrelevant distinction between copy and original)
  • Again, differing focuses give rise to differing definitions.

Communication Studies as a field of study:What is its aim, its reason for being?Why do we study in this field?

  • Teaching/learning the art of communication.
  • Teaching/learning the making and understanding of meaning  meaningful & significant
  • Teaching and learning not only the practical skills but the frame of mind, or the intellectual skills, to enable you to put these practical skills to good use: Ethical and political responsibility

1 Communication

  • Communication Studies as a field of study:What is its aim, its reason for being?Why do we study in this field?
  • Practical/pragmatic reasons: to become effective communicators as social beings, and as prospective media professionals.
  • Ethical reasons: to be able to reflect on what we are doing as social communicators and as media professionals; to be able to evaluate and distinguish good from bad.
  • To learn how to be self-reflexive and to consider the wider consequences of our actions.
  • The addition of “Studies” to “Communication” in the Faculty’s name allows us to look back and reflect on what we learn and do as “communication.”

The etymology of the word communication as a genealogical tool for understanding its meaning

  • Common
  • Community
  • Communion
  • Communal
  • Communism
  • Excommunication
  • Municipality
  • Immunity

1 Communication

  • The etymology of the word communication as a genealogical tool for understanding its meaning
  • All these words derive from both the Latin communicare that means to make common, to share and
  • from muntare or munia that means mutual help, exchange, and interaction among those who belong to the same community.

1 Communication

  • The etymology of the word communication as a genealogical tool for understanding its meaning
  • “To communicate,” the verbal form of communication means “to participate in collective life, to perform service for a common purpose” from which one can only be exempt under special circumstances (immunis, immunity).
  • And if to communicate means to participate in collective life, to be purged or excluded/expelled from the community is described by the verb to be excommunicated.
  • Hence, commonality has persisted as the semantic core of the concept of communication.

1 Communication

  • Informed by these insights, we will look at communication not simply as the transmission of a message/content by an individual to another individual, but rather, as a commonwealth creation of message/meaning/content.
  • We will also consider misunderstanding and miscommunication as inherent and not external to the process of communication.
  • Because of the ultimate undecidability of the truth of communication, ethical responsibility becomes all the more important.
  • Ethical considerations cannot be eliminated by technical determinations of clarity or truth by only a limited party partaking in a commonwealth determination of what the communication is all about.
fundamental qualities of communication mortensen
Fundamental qualities of communication (Mortensen)
  • dynamic (It is not static. It is a continuous activity or change)
  • irreversible (incapable of being reversed)
  • proactive (not reactive)
  • interactive (there is an interaction between the sides who join in, there is an exchange of information)
  • contextual (It depends on the context in which the communication occurs)
  • the exchange of meaning between human agents''. The exchange of meaning between people has to take place within a shared context. (Price)
aspects of communication
Aspects of Communication
  • the physical and temporal situation.
  • the basic faculties all humans have.
  • the discursive environment
  • the overall social and structural context.
  • an interaction which consists of the actionand reaction between two or more individuals, or two or more social groups.
functions of communication
Functions of Communication
  • instrumental (to achieve or obtain something)
  • control (to get to behave in a particular way)
  • information (to find out or explain s.thing)
  • expression to express one's feelings)
  • social contact (participating in company)
  • alleviation of anxiety (to sort out a problem, ease a worry about s.thing)
  • stimulation (response to something of interest)
  • role-related (because the situation requires it)
  • the elements (factors) of communication (its components parts)
  • the process of communication (its discourse of action, how it operates)
  • the features of communication (its characteristics)
types categories of communication
Types (Categories) of Communication

Human communication is divided into two main groups:

  • verbal communication
  • non-verbal communication
types categories of communication1
Types (Categories) of Communication

Communication can also be separated into different types or categories:

  • Intrapersonal Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Group Communication
  • Extrapersonal Communication
  • Mass Communication
intrapersonal communication
Intrapersonal Communication
  • It takes place within ourselves. It is our reflections on ourselves, on our relationships with others and with our environment. Our inner monologs, impressions, memories interact with external or internal stimuli.
interpersonal communication
Interpersonal Communication
  • This refers to communication between people, which is usually face to face, and usually between two individuals.
  • It does not simply consist of written and spoken communication, but also of non-verbal interaction.
group communication
Group Communication
  • It refers to communication within clearly identifiable groups, or between different groups of people.
  • These groups can be formal committees (tribunals, commissions) or informal (peer groups, discussion groups, leisure groups)
extrapersonal communication
Extrapersonal Communication
  • This type of communication is generally described as that which takes place either without human involvement (communication between machines) or, more loosely, interaction between human beings and machines.
mass communication
Mass Communication
  • This category is often used to describe the type of communications initiated by the large institutions of the mass media.
mass communication imitating the personal mode
Mass Communication: imitating the personal mode
  • Mass communicators use models of interpersonal communication to make their message effective
  • The mass media are not just one branch of human communication; they are built upon and continue to imitate human interaction.
  • All mass media forms depend on the use of symbolic content (language, images, gestures, intonation and so on.)
differences between mass and interpersonal communication
Interpersonal Communication involves one transmitter who communicates with one or a few receivers

Mass communication involves one or more transmitters who communicate with a large number of receivers.

Mass comm. is ‘mediated’ through a specific set of technologies which stand between the senders and receivers.

Differences between mass and interpersonal communication
the implications of these differences
The implications of these differences
  • There may be greater questions of influence and power when the scale of communication increases.
  • When this wider mode of communication gives rise to technologies, the real immediacy of interaction is lost.
characteristics of mass communication
Characteristics of Mass Communication
  • They are complex formal organizations.
  • They are directed towards large audiences
  • They are public (content is open to all)
  • Their audiences are heterogeneous
characteristics of mass communication1
Characteristics of Mass Communication
  • They can establish simultaneous contact with very large numbers of people
  • The relationship between communicators and audience is addressed by communicators.
  • The audience is collectively unique to modern society.
mass media
Mass Media
  • '' the methods and organizations used by specialist social groups to convey messages to large, socially mixed and widely dispersed audiences''. (Paul Trowler, Investigating Mass Media, p. 1)
dealing with messages as a receiver
Dealing with Messages as a Receiver
  • To understand how we deal with many different types of messages it is important to look at the psychological process known as perception.
  • Perception may be defined as the process by which the brain actively selects, organises, and interprets stimuli in order to produce an individual experience of the world.
  • The physical and psychological factors can affect our perception of the world.
psychological factors
Psychological Factors
  • Expectation
  • Motivation
  • Occupation and special interests
  • Values and attitudes
filtering distorting and blocking messages
Filtering, Distorting and Blocking Messages
  • Stereotyping
  • Prejudice
  • Projection
  • Poor listening skills
communication style
Communication Style
  • The kind of personality we are, and the profile of our various needs and motivations may result in our having a particular communication style.
communication as a skilled performance
Communication as a Skilled Performance
  • Flexibility
  • Self-knowledge
  • Empathy with an audience
  • Strategy
  • Sensitivity to feedback
  • a willingness to admit personal weaknesses and communication difficulties.
  • a recognition of the importance of open, effective communication
self knowledge
  • an awareness of any personal prejudices, stereotypes, a tendency to project etc.;
  • an awareness of our characteristic style of communicating, e.g. do we have tendency to manipulate, to dominate, to talk too much, too little, etc. ?
empathy with an audience
Empathy with an audience
  • an ability to appreciate that our audience may have different values, needs and levels of background knowledge to ourselves;
  • a willingness when communicating to adjust our behaviour to suit the needs of our audience rather than simply satisfying our own egos.
  • a willingness to accept that the conscious and deliberate adjusting of our performance to suit both audience and situation is neither artificial nor selfish.
  • an ability and willingness to experiment and to try alternative ways and styles of communicating, e.g. listening more instead of patiently trying to built in.
sensitivity to feedback
Sensitivity to feedback
  • an ability to recognise the language of feedback, facial expressions, gestures, position of body etc.;
  • a willingness and an ability to respond appropriately to feedback.
student activity
Here are some possible stereotypes. Do stereotypes exist for each of these, if so can you agree on what the appropriate qualities for each are?

A librarian

A 'heavy metal' fan

A male model

A second-hand car dealer

A school teacher

A lorry driver

non verbal communication
Non-verbal Communication
  • Edward T. Hall, an anthropologist, claims that 60 percent of all communication is non-verbal.
  • We can use non-verbal communication (N.V.C) instead of the spoken word or we can use it at the same time as we are speaking to reinforce our message.
non verbal communication1
Non-verbal Communication
  • N.V.C. is the communication which passes between individuals to replace or reinforce the use of words.
non verbal communication2
Non-verbal Communication

This definition would include the following:

  • The use of visual forms of communication like drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, decorative art.
  • Movement and dance. Ballet and mime are forms of non-verbal communication, and so is instrumental music.
  • The use of time. The ways in which people or organizations use time may give clues about them.
body language
Body language
  • Bodily contact
  • Physical proximity
  • Orientation
  • Posture
  • Gesture
  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact
bod ily contact
Bodily contact

Physical contact between people is one of the

most basic kinds of social act available to us. Who

we touch, and when, and in what way is

determined by:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Relationships
  • Culture
bod ily contact1
Bodily contact

Touch is an especially important factor in the following situations:

  • Care of children, old people or invalids. Touch can be used to bring comfort to someone we care for.
  • Helping to establish friendly relationships.
  • Aggression. Touch used to show aggression is frequently strong and much more powerful, possibly involving grasping, hitting or kicking.

We frequently make use of touch and the power of touch in social situations, such as:

  • Greetings and farewells.
  • Congratulations.
  • Gaining attention.
  • Ceremonies and so on.
physical proximity
Physical proximity

The distance we feel necessary to keep betweenourselves and others. How much space we expect to have around us can be determined by:

  • The occasion
  • The status/relationship
  • Culture
  • Personality
  • We need to be aware of where people place themselves in relation to each other. We call this orientation.
  • The way in which an individual use and move the whole body is called posture. The following three factors may influence a person’s posture:
    • Cultural convention
    • Attitude to others present
    • Emotional state
  • Posture describes the way in which we use and move our whole body, gesture refers to the use of part of body to communicate with others. Like posture gesture may be conscious or unconscious.
facial expressions
Facial expressions
  • Few other parts of the body can begin to compete with the face when it comes to non-verbal communication.
  • We send non-verbal signals using a wide range of combinations: forehead, eyebrows, eyelids, eye, nose, cheeks, lips, tongue, chin.
eye contact
Eye contact
  • Most facial expressions are dominated by what the eyes are doing.
  • It is said that the eyes are the mirror of the soul, so we can tell a great deal about a person just by looking into their eyes.
non verbal communication3
Non-verbal Communication

Other ways in which non-verbalcommunication takes place:

  • Physical appearance
  • Use of objects
physical appearance
Physical appearance
  • Non-verbal communication is perhaps at its most obvious when we smile at a friend or wave someone goodbye; body movement used for the purpose of N.V.C. is referred to as kinesic behaviour.
physical appearance1
Physical appearance

We can communicate a good deal about ourselves without ever moving any body parts at all:

  • Our clothes
  • Our use of cosmetics on face
  • Our hair
  • Even our physique
  • Social norms in the form of fashion
  • Group membership
  • Social status
  • The desire to be sexually attractive
use of objects
Use of objects
  • The possession or use of an object or objects by an individual may also communicate a message to those nearby by non-verbal means. For some people a car is more than a vehicle for moving around it, but has a symbolic meaning. A car may be a symbol of power or status.
signs of non verbal communication
Signs of Non-verbal Communication

There are a number of parallels we can draw between non-verbal communication and verbal language. They are both what communication scholars would refer to as codes. In particular, so far it looks as if we might hypothesize that, similarly to language:

  • there are a number of discrete units of meaning, which we can refer to as signs
  • no sign's meaning is complete without knowledge of the context in which it is used
  • the signs' usage is culturally conditioned
  • signs are arbitrary
signs of non verbal communication1
Signs of Non-verbal Communication
  • According to one of the foremost researchers into NVC, Birdwhistell, the average person speaks for only about ten or eleven minutes per day. He estimates that around two thirds of the social meaning of an interaction is carried in the non-verbal channel. If he's right, then we would do well to pay more attention to NVC than we do to linguistic exchanges, which receive most of the attention in communication studies.
cultural change and cultural differences
Cultural change and cultural differences
  • Nowadays we may think of the single-fingered gesture at the top of the page as virtually universal. It may be, I don't know, but it has certainly in recent years overtaken the British two-fingered gesture. Just as verbal codes evolve, so, it seems, do non-verbal codes and just as verbal codes are tied to the cultural contexts in which they are used and evolve, so, it seems, are non-verbal codes.
universal non verbal signs
Universal Non-verbal signs
  • Are no non-verbal signs universal then? In fact, it seems that some are. It's pretty obvious all over the world that the face on the top signifies happiness and that the one on the bottom signifies sadness.
universal non verbal signs1
Universal Non-verbal signs
  • I guess we all have a pretty good idea of what his guy's feeling.

7 Mass Mediated Communication

  • The Mass Media
  • Although very recent in human history, they have become a very influential force of our socialization.
  • Newspapers, periodicals, and journals in the West from the early 1800s, but they were confined to a fairly small readership.
  • Became part of the daily experience of millions of people, influencing their attitudes and opinions, a century later.
  • American children spend the equivalent of almost a hundred schooldays per year watching television.

7 Mass Mediated Communication

  • There are few societies in current times, even among the more traditional cultures, that remain completely untouched by the media.
  • Electronic communication is accessible even to those who are unable to read and write, and even in the most impoverished parts of the world it is common to find people owning radios and television sets.
  • With the development of so-called “mass society” of uprooted individuals as a result of rapid urbanization, mass media are able to influence people on a mass-scale.
  • Is this a good thing or a bad thing? What is the nature of this influence—potential and actual?

7 Mass Mediated Communication

  • A few examples to illustrate these potential and actual uses of the mass media:
  • Nelson Mandela notes that upon his arrival in Canada he was greeted by many Inuits who celebrated his arrival. They had witnessed his release from prison in South Africa on television. His freedom struggle connected with their own struggles for land and political rights in Canada, but it was television that had made possible the connection between these different and geographically very distant peoples. As Mandela said, “Television had shrunk the world and had, in the process, become a great weapon for eradicating ignorance and promoting democracy.”

7 Mass Mediated Communication

  • On the other hand, the media can be seen as part of a purely self-serving and profit-motivated consumerist culture.
  • Eg., recently the Star Wars trilogy was heavily promoted and packaged for re-release to a generation that had not seen the film on cinema screens. Huge amounts of money were spent advertising and promoting it around the world. This, combined with the system of film distribution and release, made the re-release commercially successful. Advertising, distribution, release strategies, and other marketing tools combined to make this re-release a veritable money-making machine.
  • The original release of the first Star Wars movie also demonstrates the money-making capacity of Hollywood films. In the original release, the profits made from selling Star Wars merchandise—toys, models, sweets, and so on—exceeded the profits from the box office.

7 Mass Mediated Communication

  • The original Star Wars film can thus be seen as a long advertisement for other goods. It was thus a form of economic exploitation that preyed on children, who are a very susceptible media audience.
  • Even worse, we have also witnessed how the Fascist and Nazi (Nationalist-Socialist) regimes have used the press, the radio, and film as their propaganda tools to manipulate the masses for the purposes of the fascist regime, committing atrocious crimes against humanity.
  • Indeed, it was these fears of the use of mass-media as propaganda tools that led to the academic study of mass media.

7 Mass Mediated Communication

  • The origins of the media studies can be traced back to the 1930s USA to two developments.
  • In both cases, we see research conducted on the assumption that the “masses”—uprooted from their families and close-knit village communities in the process of rapid urbanization—were vulnerable to manipulation by mass communication. The case of Nazi Germany, where popular support for the Third Reich was won through the use of press, radio, and film, strengthened this belief.
  • One line of research peaked in the 1940s when the Bureau of Applied Social Research (BASR) was established at Columbia University.

7 Mass Mediated Communication

  • Adopting a functionalist approach, Paul Lazarsfeld, one of the founders of BASR, argued that media have administrative functionsand enforces existing social forms.
  • Accordingly, the functions of the media were:
  • To confer status to the chosen few by choosing for discussion and highlighting. Eg., selecting one or two representatives of the various lobby groups for media participation.
  • Exposing deviants and their activities to enforce what they consider normal. This provides a conception of the Other against which the self of society can be maintained.
  • Reduce active public action. People are too busy consuming.

7 Mass Mediated Communication

  • This is very ironic if we consider that the press (the principal medium of the time) was originally conceived as the political watchdog or overseer of the political regime and was referred to as the Fourth Estate at the time of the French Revolution (1789). The judiciary, the parliament, and the church were referred to as the first, second, and third estates respectively.
  • The media, as the fourth estate, were conceived as a body who can comment on, criticize, and investigate, through free speech, what these other institutions do. This is why “freedom of the press,” and freedom of speech in general—free from government and owner interference— is such an important principle.

7 Mass Mediated Communication

  • The paradox conveyed by this irony begins to make sense in those instances, and to the extent, where the freedom of speech (and other human rights) for all, that is the practice of democracy and human rights, is limited and effaced through ownership and/or control of the mass media by a few to serve their particular political, ideological, and cultural interests.
  • Hence the characterization for our times: “The freedom of the press belongs to those who own one.”
  • For this very reason, “desktop publishing” was hailed as a new development with the potential for breaking the power of the giant publishing oligopolies.

7 Mass Mediated Communication

  • While the totalitarian fascist, and communist, states of the 1930s inspired the fears of those who took to studying mass media at this time, politically and ideologically interested uses of the media also occur in nominally democratic societies, where advertising can be seen as a form of propaganda and brainwashing that supports capitalist consumerism.
  • Films and television shows are increasingly transformed into program length advertisements for goods as the Stars Wars example mentioned earlier illustrates. Much of children’s programming are already nothing but program-length commercials. And these are shown in between times allotted for other, “proper” commercials. Thus children, in effect, watch nothing but commercials when they watch “children’s TV.”

7 Mass Mediated Communication

  • It is often argued that controls should be placed over the media so that they are not misused. Fear that the media may be used for political and ideological interests of a few, to the detriment of the many, is one reason why many countries insist that the government should not own and/or control the media.
  • Hence the break-up of government monopolies in media ownership, and their privatization are offered as a remedy. What we are beginning to see, however, is that the resulting ownership structure consequent to such privatization has been leading into even further concentration of ownership such that, at the present time, only a few transnational corporations own and control much of our global mass communication media.

7 Mass Mediated Communication

  • As a result, these global media owners are able to control who and what gets represented, and how they are represented in the media even more powerfully than the isolated governments could.
  • Eg., Australian media’s coverage of women in sports:
    • In the period from 1980 to 1988, Australian newspaper coverage of women’s sport rose from only 2% of total sports reporting space to only 2.5%, while in space devoted to sports results women’s sport actually fell from 12% to 8% of all sports results, and there continued to be 12 times as many photographs of men’s sports than of women’s sports.

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  • Eg., American media coverage of East Timor (Chomsky):
    • During the 1970s the Indonesian government carried out atrocities on the East Timorese that were equivalent to those perpetrated by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge forces in Cambodia, but the American media did not report this equally. There were, for instance, 70 column inches of Index listings in the New York Times Index referring to East Timor stories, compared to 1175 inches of Index listings for stories on Cambodia.
    • This disparity in coverage can be explained by the fact that the USA was involved with the Indonesian government and was implicated in arms sale to Indonesia.
    • The church and other sources estimated about two hundred thousand people killed in the conflict over East Timor. The US backed it all the way. The US provided 90% of the arms

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    • for the conflict. Right after Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor arms shipments were stepped up. There is no Western concern for issues of aggression, atrocities, human rights, abuses, and so on if there’s profit to be made from them. As the atrocities reached their maximum peak in 1978 when it really was becoming genocidal, media coverage dropped to zero in the United States and Canada.
  • When the media you rely on for information about the world around you are owned by male corporation CEOs who also happen to be a major armaments contractors, it becomes easier to understand the reasons behind such biased representations.
  • Unfortunately, without democratic safeguards, privatization of the media has not served the actualization of the democratic potential of mass communication.

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  • It has often led to further transformation of the mass media into instruments for furthering the political and ideological interests of a few—without even the claim for serving the public interest anymore, as the government media had to claim for their legitimacy.
  • The seemingly well-founded fear about the political and ideological use of the media lies behind many of the debates about who has the right to media ownership; about the public ownership of radio waves; about whether the decentralized, communal fabric of the Internet needs the catch-all remedy of privatization or not.

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  • The second line of media research in the US in the 1930s and 1940s is represented by the work of the Frankfurt School of Critical Sociology, sometimes referred to simply as “Critical Theory.” They were critical Marxists based in Frankfurt, Germany, who analyzed the role of the media in Europe and Germany in the 1930s but had to flee from Hitler’s regime and sought refuge in the US. They continued their work by analyzing American media in the 1940s and 1950s and returned to Germany after Hitler’s downfall.
  • The two principal theorists of the school, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, saw the media as a culture industry that maintained power relations and served to lessen the resistance standards of cultural aesthetics by the

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  • popularization and standardization of certain types of culture. The values perpetuated by the media were contradictory to the values of the radical Enlightenment tradition.
  • They believed that the masses are “dumbed” by the banality of the media. Their ability to function as citizens in a democratic state is replaced by their ceaseless consumption of culture or products, or both.
  • And they suggested that capitalist control of the mass media was one of the reasons why capitalism survived in the post-war period (via indoctrination and manipulation of the masses and promotion of false consciousness).

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  • In the US most other media research was conducted by sociologists and psychologists who were interested in trying to measure media effects. These studies reflected concern over, for example, the effect of screen violence and crime on children.
  • Effects research is an industry onto itself that feeds from and feeds the fear of media effects. And yet it has proven most difficult to measure the effects of the media because it is impossible to control intervening variables and establish a causal relationship between the variables one is interested in outside laboratory conditions—the only context where one is able to control intervening variables and claim a causal relationship. (Note also, however, that laboratory conditions have been faulted for lacking ecological validity—that “real life” conditions are different.)

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  • From the 1960s onwards, the media began to be examined in terms of ideology. This was largely a result of the social upheaval of the times. The anti-Vietnam war movement and the strikes of workers and students led to a more critical analysis. Effects studies were criticized for asking the wrong questions. More specifically, it was argued that the “effects model”
  • Tackled social problems backwards (it should start with perpetrators of violence, not with mass media);
  • Was ignorant of the social reasons of the violence/crime;
  • Was based on faulty methodology (for example, it saw correlation as causality);
  • Was based on conservative assumptions such as attributing to the media the function of the preservation of the status quo;

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  • Was selective in its criticisms of media depictions of violence;
  • Ignored the signification or meaning-making process of the media;
  • Saw children as inadequate non-adults;
  • Saw the masses as infantile and inferior;
  • Was not grounded in theory.
  • One line of research that developed from this era has been the Political Economy approach which basically argues that the media will serve the interests of whoever owns and controls them–whether this be private individuals interested in profit or governments interested in political control.

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  • The political economy approach involves conducting research into who owns and controls the media and what government legislation is in place relating to the media, in order to determine what effects this has on media output.
    • Eg., George Gerbner: “It’s a paradoxical fact that while channels proliferate, we have many more channels than ever before…at the same time ownership shrinks; so what happens is fewer owners own more channels and therefore can program the same materials across many channels; therefore instead of more channels creating greater diversity they seem to be creating greater homogeneity, greater uniformity, greater standardization and greater globalization…they can say to overseas channels we can sell you an hour’s worth of programming for less money than it would cost you to produce on your own…this proposition is economically so attractive…it’s a standardized, marketing formula.

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  • The exclusive focus on the media output in much of this research has been criticized for assuming that the audience are passive receivers. It is argued that audiences make choices of their own, and that by their decision to consume certain products and not others they get to have a big say in what gets produced and what doesn’t.
  • Additionally, audiences make their own meaning of texts. They will not necessarily be brainwashed by what they consume. This has given rise to a new line of research that focuses on what the audiences do with the media products that are offered them, a line of research that is called, appropriately enough, audience research.

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  • There is one other aspect of the debate around media power however: the idea that the way media products are structurally organized affects the way they present information. Two of the key terms used in this context are “agenda setting,” and “gate keepers,” terms most often used in relation to the spread of news and current affairs.
  • The media are often drawn to give more weight to the viewpoints of official institutions than to “alternative” viewpoints. They allow or privilege certain voices, the agenda setters, to come through the media broadcasting gateway.
  • This is not necessarily a deliberate conspiracy;

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  • There are various “practical” reasons for it: the fact that “news” is deemed to happen in parliament or the law courts; the reliance on official spokespeople and experts to comment on events; and the use of journalists themselves (who select and present the news). Furthermore, many broadcasters rely on news-gathering organizations to supply their stories for them in the interests of cheaper journalism. All these are part of the gate-keeping process. The net result is that “alternative” and often “relevant” voices are selected out and can’t make it through the gateways of the media.
  • The way news is organized on a daily basis, with limited time and a need to maintain popular ratings, leads to simplification and sensationalization of events.

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  • Consequently, audiences rarely receive a complex understanding of events with explanations that cover long-term causes; the focus is on what happened “today” and how the situation changes hour by hour so that each new bulletin will have something more immediate. In this “sound bite” era the use of striking headlines and good pictures predominates. There is a stress on individuals to personalize stories, which tends to simplify them.
    • See Tom Tomorrow cartoon on p. 14.
    • TV: Coming up next on the news: terrifying inexplicable events occurring in far-away places, presented without historical or sociological context.
    • Man: Geez. Looks pretty bad out there!
    • Woman: I’m certainly glad we’re safe here at home.

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  • We started by highlighting the fear of political and ideological manipulation of the masses through the media and discussed how this fear led to Media Studies.
  • There have been other fears that compelled some of the people to study the media as well. These people feared that the media would devalue a society’s culture because what they produce is so worthless. This is best illustrated in the debates around the relative importance of so-called “high” and “low” culture. High culture is supposedly the “great art” produced by a society—art that is morally uplifting, complex, and serious. It is said to be found in such cultural products as opera, painting, and “great” literature. It is elitist because only the privileged, educated, and rich have full and easy access to it.

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  • Low or “popular” culture, on the other hand, is what the “masses” consume; it is found in magazines, mass-market paperbacks, popular cinema, and television. Critics of low culture deride it as morally degrading and simple.
  • Traditionally, low culture has been denigrated as inferior and potentially damaging, and the fact that it was a product of mass media was used to disparage it.
  • Such oppositions are partly the product of class-divided societies—high culture is the province of the ruling and middle class, the bourgeoisie; low culture is the province of the working classes. But it is interesting to note politically that both right-wing conservatives and left-wing radicals have disapproved of low culture and the popular mass media;

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  • the right wing seeing the media as offering a diet of cheap, tawdry, corrupt entertainments, the left-wing seeing it as a political sweetener acting to distract the workers from their political grievances.
  • Since the 1970s, with the advent of the “new left,” there has been much study of popular culture in media studies. This is partly because of its huge audiences—if so many people are consuming it, it is important to understand it—but also in an attempt to validate it, to avoid seeing it as inferior to high culture.
  • “Cultural Studies” studies all forms of culture, not only “high culture.”

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Cultural Studies: Content Analysis vs Textual Analysis

  • Content analysis goes after the content/message/meaning of communication by asking the question “what?” (Eg., “What is communicated?”) They count, for instance, the number of times a word like “rose” occurs in the media text, assuming that every time we come across the word “rose” it means the same thing/identity/meaning/reality.
  • Textual analysis conducted in the field of cultural studies is informed by poststructural linguistics, psychoanalysis, and deconstruction, and points out that depending on the particular textual weaving of the word into the textual fabric, its meaning/identity/reality/truth may change. They, therefore, look at how the word is used, how it is woven into the textual fabric. They ask the question “how?”

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  • Content analysis originally developed in America alongside effects studies by researchers who were mainly sociologists and psychologists.
  • Cultural Studies originally developed in Europe. The Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at Birmingham University was particularly influential among English speaking researchers. CCCS brought together literary and historical approaches alongside Marxist, feminist, and (post-)structuralist linguistic theories, combining a body of critical theory with political concerns.
  • Like the political economy approach, it is interested in questions of political power and the social role of the media.

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  • A significant area of its work has been in understanding popular culture and issues of representation, alongside examination of the role and position of the audience, and wider contextual studies.
  • Since the mid 1960s, media study has grown in Australia, Europe, and America, in schools, colleges, and universities, so that it now stands as an important and popular academic area in its own right. It is possible to find a variety of media courses: mass communications, media studies, cultural studies, film and screen studies, journalism, and so on. These are built, to different degrees, on an interdisciplinary method, and present a mixture of critical, practical, and vocational approaches.

The Media: Pro and Con

  • The media’s huge range of cultural information and entertainment contributes to the development of popular knowledge. People are more aware and better educated through the media than ever before
  • The media offer people a repetitive diet of worthless trivia. Like bread and circuses, they cater to the lowest intellectual abilities and keep people moronically content.

The Media: Pro and Con

  • The media can inspire and develop us, actively encouraging us to do new things in our lives.
  • The media make us passive observers— “couch potatoes”—and we thereby lose the ability to think or act for ourselves.

The Media: Pro and Con

  • The media are truthful and informative, and they make a major contribution to democracy and social accountability, offering us a window on the world.
  • The media are a series of false constructions serving minority political interests.

The Media: Pro and Con

  • The media are democratic, allowing all people a voice in the world.
  • The media serve commercial interests and are totally controlled by multinational corporations and advertisers.

The Media: Pro and Con

  • The media enable free thought and speech to be disseminated.
  • The media are in the business of controlling our consciousness, thereby controlling who we are and how we think. Access to the media is limited.

The Media: Pro and Con

  • The media are shrinking the globe, uniting us and bringing us closer together, creating a “global village.”
  • The media are making us all the same and destroying minority cultures.

The Media: Pro and Con

  • The media give space to the voices of different social groups and cultures.
  • The media are a form of cultural imperialism, whereby dominant cultures impose their values on less powerful cultures.

The Media: Pro and Con

  • The media are an agent for social change.
  • The media maintain the status quo.