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Media Theory: Contributions to an Understanding of American Mass Communications Author(s): Michael R.

Real Reviewed work(s): Source: American Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 3 (1980), pp. 238-258 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2712449 . Accessed: 13/12/2012 08:42
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MEDIA THEORY: CONTRIBUTIONS TO AN UNDERSTANDING OF AMERICAN MASS COMMUNICATIONS


MICHAEL R. REAL San Diego State University

unStrauss thatis central to anygenuinely theoretical locatesa concept ofcommunication. a shamanistic derstanding The study examines curing textofconsiderable antiquity from theCunaIndians ofPanama.The text In is a riteforreleasing blockage from a particularly difficult childbirth. therite, theshaman unrelated to narrates a longdramatic myth seemingly hidchildbirth. In histextual analysis, brings to thesurface Levi-Strauss denparallels between thecharacters, settings, andactions ofthenarrated myth and the directly emotional and indirectly physiological obstacles preventing delivery of theinfant. Like a yarn-spinning psychotherapist, theCuna shaman engages themother inan imaginary recitation offantasinwhich As ticevents thefocus ofobstruction is identified andovercome. explains therite, through thecrucial assistance ofsymbols, Levi-Strauss the childis born.This humanability to represent and thereby control experience and theenvironment, this"effectiveness of symbols," lies at oftheworkings theheart of shamans, psychotherapists, and mass communicators. Iftheroleof"symbols"is as central tohuman culture andall
1 Claude Levi-Strauss, "The Effectiveness trans. Anthropology, of Symbols," Structural Schoepf (New York: Basic Books, 1963). First by Claire Jacobson and Brooke Grundfest publishedas "L'Efficacit6 Symbolique," Revue de iHistoire des Religions, 135 (Jan.-Mar. 1949), 5-27.

IN A STUDY TITLED

"THE EFFECTIVENESS

OF SYMBOLS,"'

CLAUDE LEVI-

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as Levi-Strauss, Ernst andmany life other Cassirer, commentators would haveus believe,we haveinthenotion ofsymbols botha justification for inthetheoretical thestudy ofmasscommunication anda central concept underpinnings of such an endeavor. in a rather This bibliographic essay considers eclecticmanner what elements 6f"theory"haveevolvedto explain and therecurring patterns principles uncoveredin mass communication researchand practice. Stepping backfrom thespecifics offilm, television, radio,andprint dealt with in other essaysin thisissue,whatcan be said oftheoretical significance aboutmediain general? The term "theory"is used hereto mean coordinated setsofstatements (observations, principles, axioms, or conclusions) which in their generalization account forrelationships and patofrelated terns a range (perhaps "causality")within phenomena (objects, processes, orevents) that constitute a scholarly field ordiscipline. Theory requires a substantial "level of abstraction," as JacquesMaritain uses that has shownin linguistics, demands phrase, and,as Noam Chomsky deductive ofhuman as wellas inductive impositions thinking processing ofthedetailsof concrete data.3These concerns have notbeen research in whathas passedfor in masscommunicaparticularly prevalent theory atomistic andempirical tion, making itnecessary heretoconsider descripofmessages andtheir on behavior as wellas tions oftheprocessing effect moreholistic abouttheroleand nature of philosophical generalizations in society. mediated communication of mass communications Whilethisessay surveys rethemainstream in theUnitedStatesin searchof mediatheory, the searchand analysis of material seeks some originality even as it selection and integration is of communication considers thestandard consensus.Our designation thatbriefest "interaction one by GeorgeGerbner: through messages.'4 Ourdefinition ofmasscommunication mass derives from Charles Wright: communication is public,rapid,and transient communication a through and to a relatively complex corporate organization large, heterogeneous, on "recency,"which itself Resisting themoreusualinsistence maybe an academicspillover from this our mass-mediated consumer culture, as bibliographic review acknowledges certain "classics" ofmediatheory
2 Jacques Maritain,Creative Intuitionin Art and Poetry (New York: Pantheon Books, 1953). 3Noam Chomsky,Syntactic Structures(The Hague: Mouton, 1967). Theory," in Frank E. X. 4George Gerbner,"Mass Media and Human Communication and Winston,1967); Dance, ed., Human Communication Theory(New York: Holt, Rinehart and in Denis MacQuail, ed., Sociology of Mass Communication(London: Penguin, 1971). A Sociological Perspective(New York: Random 5Charles Wright, Mass Communication: House, 1959).

anonymous audience.5

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well as newerdevelopments. The first of these classics offers Harold Lasswell's widelyused segmentation of the communication process: 6 Who Says What In WhichChannel To Whom WithWhatEffect? The groupings inthisreview ofsuchusualheadings: are modifications 1) of howmessages are passed among and influence theories audiences;2) oftransmission of messages and persontheories by mediatechnologies and 4) nel; 3) theories themessagecontent and implications; concerning forwantofa better which theoverall word,"critical"theories consider processand nature of mass mediain themselves and in society.Of the ofmediatheory, many previous themost bibliographic critiques perhaps relevant hereis the1973 essaybyElisabeth Noelle-Neumann summarized in its title,"Returnto the Conceptof Powerful Mass Media."7 AUDIENCE THEORY The "effectiveness of symbols"has remained a central questionin masscommunications research throughout thiscentury, especially inreference to theability oftransmitted symbols to influence human lives.The earliestand stillstrongest tradition in mass communications research seeksto measure theeffects of mediamessageson audiences, generally usingthe methods of social psychology. The emphasisis on audience attitudes and behavior in relation to information diffusion and influence. Publicopinion polling, television ratings, and advertising research make explorations intoaudience effects especially lucrative andvisible. Recent majorworks, suchas Televisionand Human Behavior8 or High Culture 9can be appreciated andPopularCulture, their for rather theoretical, than or empirical, merely descriptive contributions onlywhentheyare seen within the contextof audience effects researchas thattradition has evolvedover the last halfcentury.
6 Harold Lasswell, "The Structure in Society," in Wiland Functionof Communication bur Schramm,ed., Mass Communication(Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1960). 7 Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann,"Return to the Concept of Powerful Mass Medla," Studies in Broadcasting, 9 (Tokyo: Nippon Hoso Kyokai, 1973),67-112; also excerptedin Everette E. Dennis, Arnold H. Ismach, and Donald M. Gillmor,eds., EnduringIssues in Mass Communication(St. Paul: West Publishing,1978). 8 George Comstock et al., Televisionand Human Behavior (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1978). 9 Herbert J. Gans, Popular Culture and High Culture: An Analysis and Evaluation of Taste (New York: Basic Books, 1974).

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coverage confers status on selected persons, policies, andgroups, "mass mediaclearly serveto reaffirm socialnorms byexposing deviations from thesenorms to publicview." Latertheorists expanded thisfunction into the "cultural normstheory"of mediaeffects. Essentially, thistheory holds thata person'sbehavioris normally guidedby the individual's of cultural perception normswhilethe mass media,through selective presentation and emphasis, establish audienceimpressions of suchcommoncultural norms.12 It thusargues theindirect rather thandirect effectiveness ofmedia, through modification oftheaudience'sassumed definitionofthesituation. The third in theessay by Lazarsfeld generalization and Merton identified the narcotizing dysfunction of the media.They argued that increasing dosagesofmasscommunications maybe inadvertently transforming the energies of menfrom active participation into passive knowledge, leavinglarge masses of the population politically apathetic and inert. In their essay,Lazarsfeld and Merton wereattempting to strike a balance between The 1930shad been thehighwater contending positions. in thebelief, mark in thepublicmind, especially in theomnipotence of media,summarized as the"hypodermic needle"theory ofmediaeffects. Mass fads during the RoaringTwentiesand the DepressionThirties, advertising successes,theeffective use ofradioby Roosevelt and Hitler, Hollywood's ofuniversal supply idolsandimages, OrsonWelles'infamous
10Paul F. Lazarsfeld and RobertK. Merton,"Mass Communication, Popular Taste, and Organized Social Action," in Bernard Rosenberg and David ManningWhite, eds., Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1957). 11B. C. Cohen, The Press, the Public and Foreign Policy (Princeton:PrincetonUniv. Press, 1963), 13. See also Donald L. Shaw and Maxwell E. McCombs, The Emergence of AmericanPolitical Issues: The Agenda-Setting Functionof thePress (St. Paul, Minn.: West Publishing,1977). 12 Melvin L. DeFleur, Theories of Mass Communication(New York: David McKay, 1966).

functionthe enforcement of social norms. At the same time as press

In a benchmark essayof 1948,10 twoofthemost respected contributors to this tradition summarized media effects on audiences withthree phrases.Paul F. Lazarsfeldand RobertK. Mertonwrotefirst of the statuts-conferral function ofthemedia,inwhich"the massmediaconfer statuson publicissues,persons, organizations and social movements," giving them recognition and legitimization. A generation later,Maxwell McCombsand others woulddevelopthisthemeintothe notionof the "agenda-setting function" of the mass media; in the wordsof B. C. Cohen:"It Ithepress]maynotbe successful muchof thetimein telling peoplewhatto think, butit is stunningly successful in telling itsreaders whatto think about." 11Lazarsfeld and Merton labelleda secondmedia

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on Halloween,1938-these and manymoreexamples panic broadcast theory of the automatic to a simplestimulus-response lentthemselves of messagesinjectedinto the body publicby the mass effectiveness Bernard Merton, of the 1940sby Lazarsfeld, media. But the research Klapper,and others conJanis, Joseph Berelson, Karl Hovland,Irving Hadley Cantril'sresearchon the tradicted such oversimplifications. of thesocial and historical Wellesbroadcast theuniqueness highlighted which madepossibleitspanic conditions and thestyleof thebroadcast The seminalanalysis by Lazarsfeld,Berelson,and Hazel results.13 in Erie County, Ohio,inthe 1940presidenpreferences Gaudetofvoting to the as The People's Choice,14 gave birth tial campaign, published peron socialrelations, tradition centered research immensely productive influfrom media to flow ofinformation sonalinfluence, andthetwo-step on ofthepopulace.Thisemphasis ential totheless activesectors persons of thetransmissions mass between intervening social processvariables bypsychologwas complemented oftheaudience mediaandthebehavior variables judgment differences and personal on individual ical research the immedia effectiveness.15 Under whichalso modified or prevented in the to swing were beginning generalizations petusof such research, and imply that massmediawerevirtually insignificant direction opposite the statusas social forces. Lazarsfeld and Merton,in delineating and thenarcotizing of socialnorms, theenforcement function, conferral reminded observers that,if media were not omnipotent, dysfunction, has StevenChaffee and Recently, were theysterile impotent. neither of themediaand has found workson theinfluence seminal reexamined had come to writings thanmanysecondary moreevidenceof causality 16 assume. tradition recent book in the"effects" and thorough The mostreliable intent. Television a similar it lacks theoretical balancealthough strikes Nathan StevenChaffee, and Human Behavior,by GeorgeComstock, inone summarizes and DonaldRoberts,17 MaxwellMcCombs, Katzman, content, findings on television volumethe incredible arrayof research
Hadley Cantril,The Invasion from Mars (Princeton: PrincetonUniv. Press, 1940). Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berefson,and Hazel Gaudet, The People's Choice (New York: Harper and Row, 1944). 15 The best known of these studies is the Yale programrepresentedby Carl I. Hovland, on Mass Communications(Princeton: Experiments A. A. Lumsdaine, and F. D. Sheffield, PrincetonUniv. Press, 1949). 16 Steven H. Chaffee, CompetiChannels: The Synthetic "Mass Media vs. Interpersonal tion," paper presented to the Speech CommunicationAssociation, San Antonio, Texas, November 1979; see also Chaffee's earlier work, "The InterpersonalContext of Mass Perspectives in Communication,"in F. Gerald Kline and PhilipJ. Tichenor,eds., Current Research (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1972). Mass Communication 17 Comstock et al., Television and Human Behavior.
13

14

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persuasiveness, politicaland commercial patterns, audiences,viewing negamaybe primarily to theory effects. Its contribution and behavioral itsfindings, can failto takeintoaccount at mediatheory tive:no attempt tempting many otherwise mayconflict with conclusions andtheempirical are thoseof theaudience and weaknesses Its strengths generalizations. the detailsof the processesand in general:it clarifies effects tradition without establishing andineffectiveness conditions ofmediaeffectiveness framework thataccountsforthe details. an explanatory theoretical audirecent book in thesociological important and relatively Another Herbert Gans' High Culextreme. ence tradition provides a contrasting 18 proposes but andexplanations categorizations ture and PopularCulture of mass media.He in its treatment specifics, especially lacks empirical accept thearts,should thosefunding including argues that policy-makers, as well forms ofculture ofpopular legitimacy and support thepragmatic as highculture.Recallingthe highbrow, lowbrow,and middlebrow what hecalls anddefends Gansdefines ofan earlier generation, categories creator-oriented highart,less abstract "taste cultures" through ranging culture, of lower-middle expressions culture, light popular upper-middle low culture classes, "quasi-folk" low culture oftheworking predictable of ethnics cultures of youth, of poor and ruralorigins, and thedistinct that He concludes peoplehavea ofEuropean descent. color,andethnics maybe cultures and that,whilehigher theyprefer right to the culture through public it would be wrong"to support morecomprehensive, of the higher cultures at the expenseof the lower policiesthe welfare thanhis maybe moresatisfying ones." Gans' policyrecommendations Without evidence,he seemsto attackthe theoretical citing judgments. less, attention audience research tradition "People paymuch byasserting, thecritics ... than tothemediaandaremuch less swayed byitscontents culture as a whole,Gans appears of popular believe." On theinfluence either does notharm "popularculture asserting at one time, inconsistent, as a whole,"and at it,or thesociety thepeoplewhoprefer high culture, " [popularculture of another a useful roleintheprocess has played time, identities, developtheir ordinary peopleto becomeindividuals, enabling Jewett andself-expression." Robert andfind creativity waysto achieving that and John thisreasoning "suggests outthat Shelton Lawrencepoint in benign areasofbehavior, influential whilepowerfully culture, popular and destroy-an obviouscontradiction.'" lacks the powerto corrupt

18 Gans, Popular Culture and High Culture. 19Robert Jewettand John Shelton Lawrence, The American Monomyth(Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday), 4.

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Jerome Carellareminds Michael us that thedescriptive ofGans taxonomy ofpopular andsimilar culture cannot do thework oftheory.20 sociologists Ithielde Sola Pool, HaroldLasswell,and GeorgeGerbner have each on the contribution of politicalscienceto mediatheory.21 commented Conflict between theidealsofliberal andtherealities ofmass democracy mediaquestions persuasion has forced many ontotheagendaofpolitical research and theory. The policyimportance of such questions, locally, nationally, and internationally, has been clarified and by comparative applied political Political andcampaign research. tactics inthe persuasion UnitedStatesin the 1950swere often from consideration as exempted "propaganda."Morerecent tendto acceptopinion maworks, however, nipulation as a domestic reality and consider political as the persuasion direct to advertising inthat ofpersuacounterpart bothforms persuasion, sion oppose the ideal of freeautonomous decision-making by informed The "uses and gratifications" to mediaaudience approach theory may be a morecongenial location forGans and other traditional sociologists thanthe"effects" described above. "Uses and gratifications" approach on theneedssatisfied inusing theory focuses the consumers byindividual media,without In regard to theeffects sought by themediaproducers. this sense,itis nominally more an "audience"theory than is the"effects" tradition. HaroldLasswell's provocative essay on "The Structure and Function of Communication in Society"23 in 1948 set the stage formuchsubsequentthinking on mass communication and anticipated functionalist categoriesof the uses and gratifications type. The essay develops analogies between theroleofmasscommunication insociety andtherole of communication within zoologicalprimary groupsand individual organisms. The universal necessity of surveillance oftheenvironment was later dubbed thenewsfunction, therequirement ofcorrelation oftheparts becametheeditorial function, andneededtransmission ofthesocialheritagewas labelled theeducational function. Subsequent attempts to add an "entertainment" function and an "advertising" function failto capture
individuals.22

20 Michael JeromeCarella, "A Critiqueof Popular CultureTheories," paper presentedto the Popular Culture Association/West,April 1978, San Diego. 21 For a summary,see especially Gerbner, "Mass Media and Human Communication Theory." 22 A significant example of thisacceptance of similarities betweenpoliticalpersuasions is chapter seven, "Politics and Purchases" in Comstock et al., Television and Human Behavior. 23 Lasswell, "Structure and Function."

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Lasswell'sintent butprovide thelargest citedby, "use andgratification" forexample, television viewers.24 JayG. Blumler and ElihuKatz provide an overview and details ofthis is conceived model:1) theaudience ofas activeandgoal-directed, rather than andpurposeless; passive, links 2) theaudience member mediachoice and gratification, thus limiting any straight-line effectof media by producers-that is, audiencesuse mediarather thanmediausingaudiences; 3) mediacompetewithothersourcesof need satisfaction, and understanding media requirestakinginto accountpersonaland other functional alternatives to media;4) audience or at members can articulate least recognize theirinterests and motives in attending to media,and oftheir with explanations activities more theaudience start appropriately rather than theproducer; and5) valuejudgment aboutthecultural significanceofmasscommunication be suspended orienshould whileaudience tations arebeing on their ownterms. Thislastproposal explored indicates why"uses andgratifications" an alternative which is represents approach in opposition to approaches via "effects" and research, popular culture, critical theory. Perhaps thegreatest limitation onaudience "effects" theory, whether or "gratifications" is that ithasbeenblessed with so much oriented, empirical dataandhas developed so many related orcontending concepts that ithas tended to remain self-contained. Rather thancontributing to a theory of mass communications in toto,audienceresearch has pursuedits own purposes.It has yetto be integrated intoan overallschemaincluding transmission theory, messagetheory, and critical theory. TRANSMISSION THEORY How is theeffectiveness of symbols influenced by thewaysin which mass mediainstitutions create,multiply, and conveymessages?Transmission theory, or perhapsmorecritically "institutional theory," concernsthe processthrough whichmessagesare developed,duplicated, and relayed to audiences.The bulkofmediaresearch has studied media
24 The "entertainment" function was added by Charles Wright, Mass Communications: A Sociological Perspective (New York: Random House, 1959). WilburSchrammat one time proposed a fifth function, "advertising," but his laterworks do not retainthe addition; see Men, Messages, and Media (New York: Harper and Row, 1973). 25 Jay G. Blumler and Elihu Katz, eds., The Uses of Mass Communications:Current Perspectives on Gratifications Research (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1974). See especially their preliminary overview essay withMichael Gurevitch,"Utilization of Mass Communication by the Individual."

tions.25 They cite five elements dominantin the uses and gratifications

useful and controversialapproach in The Uses of Mass Communica-

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consumers and mediaimpact on behavior and decision-making. Less attention has been paid to theintricacies of transmission-that is, to the mediainstitutions whichdevelopmessagesor themediasystems which relay them. Thisimbalance is understandable intheAmerican commercial contextwheremedia are financed largely as vehiclesfor sellingand where,therefore, producers spendlavishly to learnabout and control buyer behavior. Yet no "mediatheory" couldhopeto be complete withtransmission as wellas audience infact, outconsidering media effects; the is thespecific central component ofoverallmediatheory communication medium whichconnectssenderand receiver. "Gatekeeper" research overthree decadeshas identified especially the role thateditorsplay in the transmission of news betweeneventand public.Developing an idea of KurtLewin,journalistic research initiated by David Manning Whiteand Warren Breed has spelledout motives, in wireserand results of selectivity characteristics, amongpersonnel The vices, news organizations, and similar decision-making positions.26 and MalcolmMacLean gatekeeper modeldevelopedby BruceWestley on the with themasscommunication portrays process particular emphasis insertedbetweennews source and 'co-orientation''of gatekeepers mediapersonnel studies of professional Ethnomethodological by Harhavedeepened David Altheide, andothers veyMolotch, GayeTuchman, in a newsroom and social thisanalysis howsocialroutines by describing and entertainers determine definitions of reality sharedby newspersons whatgetscoveredand the possibilities of news and entertainment-of talkedabout, and how.28 Historicalstudiesby Erik Barnouw,David set and othersdescribehow mediaownersand managers Halberstam, institutions.29 of their policyand relateto the day-to-day operations
26 For a review of thistradition, see George A. Donohue, PhillipJ. Tichenor,and Clarice N. Olien, "Gatekeeping: Mass Media Systems and Information Control," in Kline and Tichenor, eds., CurrentPerspectives. 27 Bruce H. Westleyand Malcolm S. MacLean, Jr.,"A Conceptual Model forCommunications Research," JournalismQuarterly,34 (1957), 31-38. 28 See, for example, David Altheide,Creating Reality: How TV News Distorts Events A Studyin the Construction (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1976) and Gaye Tuchman,Making News>; of Reality (New York: Free Press, 1978). Altheide and Tuchman have also expanded to considerationsof media content as well as personal processes; see, for example, David Altheideand Robert P. Snow, Media Logic (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1979) or Gaye Tuchman, ArleneKaplan Daniels, and JamesBenet, eds., Hearth and Home: Images of W, omen in the Mass Media (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1978). 29 Halberstamprovides exceptional anecdotal verification of the frequently assumed but seldom confirmedrelationshipbetween media ownershipand media practice see David Halberstam,The Powers That Be (New York: AlfredA. Knopf, 1979). Barnouw has followed his definitive three-volume history of broadcastingwithsuch works as The Sponsor: Notes on a Modern Potentate (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1978) and a condensed history, Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television (New York: OxfordUniv. Press, 1975).

audience.

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Whatthesestudies giveus is notso mucha theory as a description of socialprocesses which precede messages reaching theaudience, much as socialrelations effects research identifies thesocialprocesseswhich follow thatpointof impact wheremessagesencounter audiences.Recent workon the"production of culture" provides a broader context forunderstanding these processes. The Production of Culture,30editedby Richard Peterson, develops analogues inthetransmission ofart,science, and religion in technological societies;Paul Hirschhas appliedthese analoguesto an understanding of the productive role of mass mediain society. The application oforganizational andinstitutional tomass models mediaresearch and theory movesus beyond theindividualistic analysis which has plagued audience research and critiques ofkitsch andpopular culture andbrings us closerto critical ofmediaas industries. discussions The question of theimpact of mediatechnologies on duplication and transmission withMarshall rose to specialprominence McLuhanin the 1960s.He reminded researchers thattherole of thetechnical mediaof communications-print, electronic, aural-is as integral to thecommunication processas aretherolesofmessages andaudiences. Fora time, the intriguing case for mediaas thecause ofall major historical shifts seemed to maketechnological determinism thedominant form of mediatheory. McLuhan'semphasis revolved aroundtheassertion thatcommunicationsmedia,apartfrom and determine their structure messagecontent, thedominant definitions ofpersonal inanygiven and socialreality historical period;suchmediaare inclusive ("cool") or intensive ("hot"). The origins of manyaspectsof thisinsight in a journaledited can be found from 1953to 1959as partof a Ford Foundation study by McLuhanand EdmundCarpenter.31 The numerous contributors exploreddifferences between auralandvisualcultures, between print andelectronic societies, between linealandnon-lineal codifications ofreality, theeyeand between theear,and various all around of other dichotomies, therecurring theme the natureand impactof communications media. McLuhanalso borrowed hisfellow from Canadian HaroldAdamsInnis. In comparing the thought of thesetwo,JamesW. Careyhas made an important contribution to mediatheory.32 notesthat Carey'scomparison
30 Richard A. Peterson,ed., The Productionof Culture(Beverly Hills: Sage, 1976); Paul M. Hirsch, "OrganizationalAnalysisand Field Studies," in Paul M. Hirsch,PeterV. Miller, and F. Gerald Kline, eds., Strategiesfor CommunicationResearch (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1977). 31 Edmund Carpenter and MarshallMcLuhan, eds., Explorationsin Communication (Boston: Beacon Press, 1960). McLuhan's most prominent book, Understanding Media: The Extensionof Man, was publishedin 1964but appeared in an earlierformin his reportto the United States Office of Education in 1960, titled "UnderstandingMedia." 32 JamesW. Carey, "Harold Adams Innis and Marshall McLuhan," in RaymondRosenthal, ed., McLuhan Pro and Con (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1968).

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form of inthedominant changes progressive theclaimthat Innisinitiated influence civilization had a determinate of Western mediain thehistory He disand thenature of culture. of social institutions on thecharacter to "time-biased"media, whichare durableand difficult tinguished and less durable. "space-biased"media,whichare light from transport, traInnisdefined distance, onlya short carries language Because spoken on tradition, as time-bound with a heavyemphasis auralsocieties ditional are spacein contrast, on print, Societiesrelying and morality. religion, and the the secularstate,expansionism, boundand tendto emphasize Westas a monopoly ofthemodern Innissees thehistory order. technical with McLuhanwillrecogon print. Thosefamiliar founded ofknowledge Careyemin vocabulary. variations despitecertain nize the argument, princitechnology phasizesthat,"WhereasInnis sees communication McLuhansees itsprincipal andculture, socialorganization pallyaffecting s position beMcLuhan' and thought." organization effect on sensory in linhypothesis to theSapir-Whorf to Carey,verysimilar comesthen, research little buthas produced which is plausible a hypothesis guistics, The flawis in and perception. oflanguage andfewadvancesinthestudy withverynarrow evidence.Innis'aptheory a verygeneral developing McLuhanis morepersonal social,and institutional; proachis historical, repreto Carey,"forInnis,theoraltradition According and speculative. moralsand and metaphysics, of man's concernwithhistory sentative to a sacred ifwe werenotto fallvictim had to be preserved meanings McLuhanfinally that and a sanctified science." Careyconcluded politics and science whichInnis so profoundly fell victimto the technology criticized. focus from theMcLuhan/Innis A variety spreadoutward ofdirections of conand the psychology research on mediatechnology. Split-brain a andprovide ofmediachannels effects differential sciousness mayclarify ofvisually bythecontrast suggested thevaluedichotomies base for firmer culor electronic non-literate oriented and aurally oriented cultures print also communication andintercultural differences Studies ofethnic tures.33 of media variations.34 withtheories of converging offer the possibility as Jerrv Manderand Marie by such writers arguments Anti-television of canonizations slimbases in opposing Winn buildfrom McLuhanesque

applied AndrewWeil, and othershas been tentatively 3 The researchof RobertOrnstein, to media analysis by McLuhan and others; I have summarizedcertainof these contrastsin Mass-Mediated Culture (Englewood Cliffs,N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1977), 208-12. 34 The works of Michael Prosser, Tulsi Saral, Fred Casmir, and Molefi Asante suggest analysis to media theory. by intercultural possible contributions

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electronicmedia.35 Critiquesof technology by Jacques Ellul, Lewis Mumford,and othersocial philosophersparallelthe workof Innis and contribute to the criticaltradition in media theory.36 Engineering and mathematical theories of communicationserve well the technical needs of media transmission but generallyhave not generated significant concepts and research integratedwith social theories.37 Transmission research on media personnel, institutions, and technologieshas clarified the natureand details of processes connecting audiences withcreatorsof messages. There remains,however,a considerable gap between research evidence and theoreticalspeculation concerningmedia transmission. MESSAGE THEORY The "effectiveness of symbols, to whichLevi-Straussrefers, depends most intrinsically on their specific content and form. Message theory concernsthiscontentand form, thatis, whattravelsthrough thechannels of mass communication.Message theorylinks transmission theorywith audience theory by focusingon the symbolsexchanged. Unlike transmission and audience research,message analysis is not dominatedby social scientists; scholars fromthe arts and humanitiesassert theirpositions withweapons of textualanalysis and aesthetictheoryappropriateto the subject matter. The most common methodologyfor studyingmass communication messages has been contentanalysis; 0. R. Holsti definesthe methodas "any techniquefor makinginferences by objectivelyand systematically identifying accurate characteristics of messages." 38For all the difficulty of identifying accurate categories and placing contentwithinthem,content analysis has been heavily used in many contexts for more than a generation.Television and Human Behavior39illustrateswhat content analysis has shown us about the frequencyand distribution of types of broadcastprograms, themesoftelevisiondrama,portrayals of race, class,
35 The book by Jerry Mander, Four Arguments for the Eliminationof Television (New York: Morrow Quill, 1978), contains fascinating theoreticalpropositionsmingledwith an overbearing journalisticargumentation oflimited A print bias seems discernible significance. in Marie Winn, The Plug-In Drug (New York: Viking, 1977). 36 See, for example, Michael R. Real and Clifford G. Christians,"Jacques Ellul's Contribution to CriticalMedia Theory," Journalof Communication,29 (Winter1979), 81-88. 37 This tradition stemsfromNorbertWeiner,Cybernetics (Cambridge,Mass.: MIT Press, 1948) and Claude E. Shannonand WarrenWeaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1949). 38 0. R. Holsti, Content Analysis for the Social Sciences and Humanities (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1969). 39 Comstock et al., Television and Human Behavior.

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and occupations, news bias, and trendsin violent content. Theoretical explanations,however, are absent fromthe voluminous compilationof Comstock and colleagues. Contentanalysis-from its use by the International CommunicationAgency (formerly the USIA) to tabulate foreign propagandato its applicationby women's groups foridentifying sex role in commercials and children's programs-provides a basic definitions scorecard for identifying tendencies and tracingtrends in the message contentof mass communications. The analysis of symbol, image, and icon approaches messages in a manner oppositeto thatofcontent analysis.Wherecontent analysis,in the interestof quantification,takes many messages, shaves off the idiosyncracies,and tallies the uniformities, analysis centeredon symbol,imof qualitativeanalysis,zeroes in on the single age, and icon, in theinterest expression,relishesits uniqueness, and explores meaningsand parallels emanatingoutward. Icon analysis has been applied successfullyto the study of popular cultureand plays a role in message theory.Marshall Fishwick, drawing fromHerbertRead and Erwin Panovsky,has described the place of conicons in introductory temporary essays to two books on popular American icons.40The word icon, based on the Greek word forimage,refers to "an object of uncritical devotion" and denotes medievalreligiousimages paintedon wooden panels. More generally, icons are externalexpressions of internalconvictionstied to myths,legends, values, idols, and aspirations. Panovsky definediconography as "the branchof art history which concerns itselfwith the subject matteror meaningof works of art, as form." He distinguished opposed to their surfacedata whichrequireidentification, frominteriorqualities which description,and authentication call fordeeper evaluation,interpretation, and signification. Fishwickobof iconology in our time-because of its disserves, "The mainstream semination mass media-is thepopularstratum ofour culture."41 through Icons of Popular Cultureand Icons of America interpret media icons as diverse as ShirleyTemple, the Beatles, citizens' band radio, comics, the Western romance, and the many icons of advertisingculture. Icon interpretation nicely isolates and focuses elementsof media messages and lends itselfto mythicand religious theories of mass communication.42
40 MarshallFishwick,"Entrance," in MarshallFishwickand Ray B. Browne, eds., Icons of Popular Culture (Bowling Green, Ohio: Popular Press, 1970); and Marshall Fishwick, "Icons of America," in Ray B. Browne and Marshall Fishwick, eds., Icons of America (Bowling Green, Ohio: Popular Press, 1978). 41 Fishwick, "Entrance," 6. 42 George Gerbnerhas proposed religiousand mythic theoriesof media in various presentations; see, for example, "Mass Media and Human CommunicationTheory."

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Caweltibeginswith a question commonly asked ofpopular media:what elements determine theparameters ofgenres suchas westerns, detective mysteries, science fiction, and similarly obviousgroupings of popular culture content? Taking cuesfrom Henry NashSmith andNorthrop Frye, Caweltinarrows the largecontext of mythic and archetypal interpretations downto theconcept offormula, which he defines as "a conventionalsystemfor structuring cultural products."Whereasmyths and genresare universal, formulas are limited; theyrepresent "the way in a particular which culture has embodied bothmythical andits archetypes own preoccupations in narrative form."44 Popularformulas relymore on convention heavily thaninvention. Conventions are thosepartsof a cultural product thatexistin similar in the form products of elements known to bothauthor and audiencebeforehand. a Conventions maintain culture's stability. Inventions are those parts of a culturalproduct uniquely contributed by a particular artist; over timetheymaymodify conventions. Inventions to respondto changing cirenable a culture cumstances. Worksas inventive as Finnegan'sWake maybreakwith convention butpopular mediarelyalmost on formulaic conexclusively ventions. "Auteur"film criticism tends toassumethis theory inassessing theinventions ofa director-Hitchcock, theconventions of Ford-within a formula such as mysteries or westerns.In developing the artistic, and cultural of formula evolutionary, implications analysis, Adventure, andRomanceexplains Mystery, of a typology literary formulas, attempts transcultural in its formulaic formulas, explorescrimefiction embodiments(the classical and the hard-boiled looks at the detective story), evolution ofthewestern andreviews themethod formula, itto byapplying best-selling melodramas. Horace Newcombis thebest known of those who have appliedCawelti'sapproach.In TV: The Most PopularArt, Newcomb inprime identifies formulas and argues that teletime popular visionis distinguished among mediaby theintimacy ofthesmallscreen,

tery, and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture.43

The theory ofpopular genres and formulas developed byJohn Cawelti offers an elaborate methodology forinterpreting massmediacontent and is one ofthemostsignificant humanistic contributions to media theory. A seriesofessaysand bookson popular mediaby Cawelti appeared overa ten-year period, culminating inthepublication in 1976ofAdventure, Mys-

43 John G. Cawelti,Adventure, Mystery, and Romance (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1976). See also JohnG. Cawelti, "Notes Toward an Aestheticof Popular Culture,"Journal of Popular Culture, 4 (Fall 1971), 255-68; and Cawelti, "Myth, Symbol, and Formula," Journal of Popular Culture, 8 (Summer 1974), 1-9. 44 Cawelti, Adventure,Mystery, and Romance, 6.

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continuity ofcharacters andseries, andtheuse ofcontemporary historical as subjectmatter concerns even whenset in earliereras.45 The complexity, and specialization refinement, of semiotics precludes hereanybutthemostcursory lookat itsapplications to message theory. The workof Umberto Ecco, RolandBarthes, and otherssuggests the profound potential that theanalogy between language and other message systems offers. Mostbasic amongsemiotics' many binary oppositions is Ferdinand de Saussure'sdistinction between language (langue)as a systemand speech(parole)as a process.46 The difference between American as an abstract television system (langue) withits infinite for potential informational andcultural exchange, andAmerican television as an actual process(parole)confined byinstitutionalized masscommercial priorities, showsthekind ofimplications suggested byAmerican mediaapplications of semiotics. Withsome exceptions, semiotics and semiology have reinuse andhavebeenapplied mained largely European tofilm extensively butnotto othermedia.Cultivation thevalues analysis, whichexplores cultivated by media,and the searchforcultural indicators by George Gerbnerand his collaborators47 (as well as my methodof cultural parallelthe goals of semiotic exegesis)48 analysisbut avoid its use of exoticlinguistic and terms. The many categories contributions of speech communications and rhetorical theory to thestudy of masscommunicationsonlypartially substitute forthelack of successful, visibleapplicain the American tionsof formal linguistics to mediatheory, especially context. on audienceeffects, of transmisSociologicalresearch investigations sion personnel and technology, measurement and analysisof message content-these arethedeveloped traditions andtheories concerning mass communications. Drawnfrom a variety of disciplines, the threeareas havetended to remain independent and unassimilated. Can they provide thebuilding blocksforan overall,integrated theory of media?In brief, have mass communication analysts founda forest or onlytrees?

45Horace Newcomb, TV: The Most Popular Art (Garden City,N. Y.: Doubleday, 1974); Horace Newcomb, ed., Television: The Critical View, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1979). 46 See Roland Barthes, Writing Degree Zero and Elements of Semiology, trans. by Annette Lavers and Colin Smith (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967), 13. 47 For a generalexplanation,see George Gerbner,"Communicationand Social-Environment," ScientificAmerican, 227 (Sept. 1972), 152-63. For a recent example see George Gerbner,Larry Gross, Nancy Signoreielli,and Michael Morgan, "Aging withTelevision: Images on Television Drama and Conceptions of Social Reality," Journalof Communication, 30 (Winter 1980), 37-47. 48 Real, Mass-Mediated Culture, especially pp. 37-38 and 157-59.

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CRITICAL THEORY The final effectiveness of symbols cannot be reduced to onlyone discrete area ofeither audience, transmission, or message itrequires theory; a broader critical perspective. Paul F. Lazarsfeld, inanother "classic" of mediatheory, originated theimportant distinction in 1941between what he identified as "administrative" and "critical" communications research.49 Lazarsfeld characterized hisownresearch as administrative but was convinced ofthevalueofanother "typeofapproach ifitwere which, included in the general stream of communications research, could contribute muchin terms of challenging problems and new concepts." The dominant of communications form research-administrative-is carried in theserviceof somekindof administrative through agencyof publicor private character and can be criticized inthewords forsolving, of Lazarsfeld, "littleproblems, generally of a businesscharacter." The vast majority of audienceresearch is administrative, withits purposes defined from byfunding political broadcast advercandidates, networks, tising agencies, and similar results-oriented self-serving, agencies.Significantportions oftransmission and messageresearch are also carried out administrative ofadministrathrough goalsandmethods. The empiricism tive mediaresearch in Americais characterized in a motto coinedby Merton: "We don'tknowthat whatwe sayis particularly but significant, it is at least true."50 In contrast, critical research requires that, inaddition to whatever special purpose is to be served, thegeneral roleofourmediaofcommunicationin thepresent socialsystem T. W. Adorno should be studied. Citing and Max Horkheimer, two distinguishing characLazarsfeld identified teristics of critical of prevailing social research;it developsa theory trends of the time,and it implies ideas aboutbasic humanvalues. He cautions: themeansofits "We cannot a single and study pursue purpose realization isolated from thetotalhistorical situation in which suchplanning and studying asgoes on." 51 To critical mediaresearch, Lasarsfeld signs responsibility forquestionsof media control,centralization of and the development ownership, of promotional intoan manipulation

49Paul F. Lazarsfeld, "Remarks on Administrative and Critical CommunicationsResearch," Studies in Philosophy and Social Science, 9 (1941), 2-16. Jay G. Blumler used Lazarsfeld's categories in "The Social Purposes of Mass CommunicationResearch: A Transatlantic Perspective," Founders' Lecture presentedto the Association forEducation in Journalism, Madison, Wisconsin, Aug. 1977. 50 Robert K. Merton,"Patterns of Influence," in Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Frank N. Stanton, eds., CommunicationsResearch 1948-49 (New York: Harper, 1949). 51 Lazarsfeld, "Administrative and Critical Research."

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ofresearch to significant "advertising culture";he also sees therelation issues of social problems,trendstowardbetterculturalconditions, and threats intothiscateto basic human valuesfitting standardization, "We a category Merton characterized by explaining: goryof research, don't knowthatwhatwe say is true,but it is at least significant."52 developed breadth and depth,fully If theory embracesintellectual must mediatheory be "critical"in essenceevenas ittakesintoaccount be holisfindings. Theoretical assertions must less abstract administrative and ticand integrate of media-analyzing social institutions theentirety addressing messageand symbol systems, complex channels, interpreting and context.53 and providing forfactors of history policyquestions, in naoftheroleof mass communications Recentchangesin theories of the tionaldevelopment in theThirdWorldillustrate the importance In the 1950s,Daniel Lerner,Wilbur critical-administrative distinction. ofusing masscomand others thestandard theory Schramm, articulated to change attitudes andbehavior as thetriggering mechanism munications from in developing countries. The bestofadministraditional to modern As latersumand theory of the timewas employed. trative research centralized thedominant paradigm provided marized by Everett Rogers, growth technology to stimulate economic planning using capital-intensive on the assumption thatthe primary were causes of underdevelopment to expectations, thismodelwas not internal to the country. Contrary was calledon to explain thefailures theory particularly effective. Critical ofnative ofpurely Problems included failure administrative approaches. on increased dependency populations to be inspired bymediamotivation, and capital,institutionalized and economic political foreign technology World leadbarriers to progressive critical reevaluation byThird change, ers of the exploitative and countries, models of advanced industrial breaknumerous to achieve the predicted dramatic practicalfailures in development. was redeThe newerconceptof development throughs participatory processof socialchangein a fined by Rogersas "a widely to bring advancement intended aboutbothsocial and material society, forthe freedom, and other valuedqualities) (including greater equality, ofthepeoplethrough environgaining greater control overtheir majority 54 The debatecontinues protodayas transnational corporations ment."
Merton, "Patterns of Influence." An important contribution to media theorymay come fromthe long-awaitedbook or multi-volume study by Gene Youngblood, The Videosphere (New York: E. P. Dutton, Desire, 1981?); an excerptis available as Youngblood, "The Mass Media and the Futurdeof Co-evolution Quarterly(Winter 1977-78), 7-17. 54 Everett Rogers, "Communication and Development: The Passing of the Dominant and Development:CriticalPerspectives Paradigm," in EverettRogers,ed., Communication (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1976), 133.
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53

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pose theadministrative advantages ofthefree flow ofinformation across boundaries whilecritical theorists argue for national cultural policies that wouldallow some localizedcontrol over mediathatare dominant in a country or region.55 Whichside has the moreaccurateand complete theory of mediacontrol willbe decidednotmerely by partisan political measures butalso bytangible long-term human costsandbenefits, an area of critical rather thanadministrative expertise. Recentmass culture debatefurther illustrates thedistinction between of administrative and critical theories and the need fora larger theory cultural of massculture liveson and systems. The conservative critique liea 56 The liberal has beenfinely intwoessays. reviewed byC. W. E. Bigsby defense ofpopular andmassculture continues with prominent representationfrom theBowling GreenPopularPress.This "greatdebate" tends, however, on bothsidesto be critical butunsystematic. The cultural content ofmasscommunications is viewednotin itself butonlyas it affects as theconserartorpolitics. It either threatens thevaluesofeliteculture, vativeargues,or expressesthe pluralism of liberaldemocracy, as the liberal contends. Whatis suchculture initself and within (rather thanfor thesakeof)a cultural system?57 Theory anddataconcerning theposition andportrayal inmasscommunications illustrate ofwomen andminorities for further thevalueofmaintaining a critical starting point anda concern cultural .58 systems on Perhapsthe mosthopeful sourcesof the neededfullperspective exmasscommunication, of "mediatheory" perse, are anthropological ofcybernetics and with plorations of cultural systems, acknowledgment and systems theory, andcritical analyses ofpolitical economy, ideology, and criticaltheoristsstill exhibita consciousness. Anthropologists masscommunication as an illustration to treat tendency onlyin passing, in its own in a grander schemerather thanas a complexphenomenon right. Yet auspiciousbeginnings are present. Edmund thesubLeach, Victor Turner, and Raymond Firth illustrate
55 See, for example, Herbert I. Schiller, Communications and Cultural Domination (White Plains, N. Y.: International Arts and Sciences Press, 1978). 56 C. W. E. Bigsby,"Europe, Americaand the Cultural Debate," in C. W. E. Bigsby,ed., Superculture: AmericanPopular Cultureand Europe (Bowling Green, Ohio: Popular Press, 1975); and C. W. E. Bigsby, ed., Approaches to Popular Culture (Bowling Green, Ohio: Popular Press, 1976). 57 I have elsewherearguedfora six-part refinement ofthepositionsin the so-called "great debate" on mass and popularcultureand have stressedthe need to view each within a larger culturalframework.See Real, Mass-Mediated Culture, 14-33. 58 WindowDressing on the Set (a reportof the U.S. Commissionon Civil Rights,1974) and WindowDressing on the Set: An Update (a reportof the U.S. Commissionon Civil Rights, 1979) (Washington,D.C.: U.S. GovernmentPrinting Office).

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alhave in symbols and communication, anthropologists stantial interest of In hisconsideration to massmediais minimal.59 though their attention ofemotions, and espethepsychology ofmythical thought, thestructure of Mythin Man's Social Life,"60ErnstCassirer cially"The Function forms to contempoapplying his vastcorpuson symbolic movedtoward terminated byhis an effort unfortunately rary political and socialtrends, art, setsalongside of"myth"as one ofsixsymbolic death.Yet hisnotion to a productive analogue provides history, andlanguage science, religion, and sociallife, relate to emotions, ofmediaas they numerous dimensions on myth might ingeneral. MirceaEliade's formulations symbolic activity ofmedia.61 LeRoy E. philosophy intoa productive likewise be translated relations between "Of all themutual in warning: Kennelmayoverstate oftheairwaves is probably theecology environment, organisms andtheir investigating therelaanthropologists themostcrucial.'62 Nevertheless, framework forexplaining offer a larger ritual and ecology63 tionbetween and othermedia. the ecologicalrole of television media. useful in interpreting Geertzis especially The workof Clifford Geertz In the essay "Deep Play: Notes on the BalineseCockfight,"64 a beis less like diagnosing the cockfight observesthatunderstanding a literary text.A thanlikepenetrating an organism havior or dissecting in Balinesecockfights structure, present sustained symbolic collectively a problem ofsocialsemantics offers (media)expressions, and all popular In thecockfight, theBalineseforms morethanone of social mechanics. at thesame temper hisowntemperament and hissociety's anddiscovers many offers foreach culture a particular face of them, time-or rather, infunctionalist and psychological times.Geertzfinds facesat different the tobe reductionist, whereas treating ofrites andpastimes terpretations own form as a textenablesone to seek thatculture's symbolic cultural or maynotbe universal orevent A popular expression reading ofthetext. in which a paradigm we can readand in meaning butwillprovide typical
59Edmund Leach, Cultureand Communication:The Logic by WhichSymbolsAre Connected (New York: CambridgeUniv. Press, 1976). The series of books on "Symbol, Myth, and Ritual" fromCornell Univ. Press under the general editorshipof Victor Turner is especially salient. Gavriel Salomon, Interactionof Media, Cognition,and Learning (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1979), approaches media in a cross-culturaland interactional to social symbolsystems. perspectivewithparticularreference 60 Ernst Cassirer, The Mythof the State (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1966), 37-49. 61 Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane (New York: Harcourt,Brace and World, 1957). 62 LeRoy E. Kennel, Ecology of the Airwaves (Scottsdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1971), 8. 63 See, forexample, Roy A. Rappaport,Pigs for theAncestors:Ritual in theEcology of a New Guinea People (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1968). 64 Clifford Geertz, "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight,"in Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973).

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reread a culture's sensibility. Mediamaybe approached with themethods ofan anthropologist who,inessence,readsthetexts ofa culture overthe shouldersof the subjects of that culture.His guidingprincipleis: "Societies,likelives,contain their owninterpretations. One has onlyto learnhowto gainaccess to them."The difference between thisand mere one-dimensional message analysis is theanthropological context inwhich culture is defined as a system withsubsystems and multiple layersof meaning. Geertz'stextual interpretation, as a consequence, requires consideration of whatpreviously happened within institutions ofmediaand message transmission as wellas subsequent aspectsofaudience behavior, evenas itfocusesattention on theimmediate point-of-contact where the participant encounters thetext (media).Theanthropologist's appreciation ofcultural andsocialinstitutions expressions as parts ofa cultural system highlights perhapsthe greatest blindspot amongmediaresearchers attempting to movefrom thelevelofempirical datato general theory. The idea ofculture and itsrelation to masscommunication evolvedina series of classic worksnow available in a fourteen volumeseries featuring Raymond Williams ("The Idea of Culture"),T. W. Adorno("Cultural and Society"),Dwight Criticism MacDonald("A Theory of Mass Culand Its Culture"), ture"),EdwardShils("Mass Society and hundreds of The mostspecified of"critical to theFrankfurt refers meaning theory" School of Adorno, Leo Lowenthal, Walter and Horkheimer, Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse.Theirdated relianceon psychoanalytic phrasesand elitistaesthetics but theirtradition theircontribution tempers slightly thrives. Dallas Smythe and Herbert of Schiller have shown thenecessity identifying thepolitical masscommunication economy which undergirds ifone is to understand indifactors which systems theinstitutional define vidualrolesand actions increating, transmitting, and measuring message systems.66 Frederick Stewart Jameson, Ewen, and StanleyAronowitz examine theinevitable and sysdimensions of mediacontent ideological of singular in the shaping of culture tems,dimensions importance by media.Europeancritical theorists such as Hans MagnusEnzensberger as thecurious consciousness ofmediaindustries and distinguish product an understanding of the sources,structures, and manipupointtoward as essentialto fullassessment lationsof consciousness of the role of media.Recentworkson thehistory oftheFrankfurt Schoolhave made
65 Peter Davison, Rolf Meyersohn,and Edward Shils, eds., LiteraryTaste, Cultureand Mass Communications,fourteenvols. (Cambridge: Somerset House, 1978). 66 See, forexample, Dallas Smythe,"Communications:Blindspotof WesternMarxism," Canadian Journalof Political and Social Theory,1 (Fall 1977), 1-28; HerbertSchiller,The Mind Managers (Boston: Beacon Press, 1974).

others.65

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criticaltheorythe subject as well as the source of considerable cultural research, while new collections increase our interestin the relationsof criticaltheoryto mass communications.67 The ineradicable legacy of critical theory has been to force media theoriststo face the full implicationsof the political economy of intransmissionsystems,the ideology of message systems, stitutionalized and the consciousness resultingfromchanged, modified,or reinforced audience attitudesand behavior. Productivepolicy decisions, significant researchprojects,and humanemedia practicesrequiremedia theorythat questions. If five decades of confrontsratherthan skirtsthe difficult theorytend to of mass communication contributions to an understanding any single moral, it is this: no question is more centralto our collective of therealities future thanthe accurate assessmentand positiveutilization and potentials of mass communication. Symbols matter;theoryand researchon media bringhome the realizamatmass means of communication through tionthatsymbolsdominating terverymuch. Clearlyaware ofthis,ArchibaldMacLeish once addressed a meetingof professionalbroadcasters with this sobering reminder: A mancould even argue-and I shouldbe prepared Whatyou do matters. has a to-that whatyoudo matters moreoverthelongrun(ifourcivilization else does, because you are more longrunahead of it) thanwhatanybody the mindsof morepeople thanall the restof us put shaping persistently
* together.68

67 Jameson to the are editorsand contributors and Aronowitz,along withJohnBrenkman, fromMadison, Wisc. A classical antholnew journal Social Text: Theory/Culture/lIdeology and Seth Siegelaub in two ogy of criticaltheorytexts has been edited by ArmandMattelart Genand Class Struggle(New York: International volumes underthe titleCommunication Marxism and the Mass Media: Towards a Basic eral, 1979). The last publisheralso offers Bibliography(1976). 68 Partially Due to CircumstancesBeyond Our Control(New quoted in Fred W. Friendly, York: Vintage, 1968), xxiv.

* The most helpfulbibliographic reviews include those by George Gerbner,F. Gerald Kline, Jay G. Blumler,and Elihu Katz, all in essay form,and overview books by Wilbur Schramm, Melvin DeFleur, Sandra Ball-Rokeach, and Charles Wright.My book MassMediated Culture may clarifymattersnecessarilycompressed in this essay. Full citations on media theory,veryfew books might are available in the footnotes.For a "must" library be necessary,but a numberof individualarticleswould be essential. As the textand notes indicate, among my favoritesare the pieces by Harold Lasswell, Paul Lazarsfeld, Elihu Katz, George Gerbner,JohnCawelti, Gaye Tuchman,George Comstock,and Steven Chafthe ICA fee. Otherusefulsources includethe Sage annual reviewof mass communications, Communications Yearbook, a new near-annualseries fromAblex Press, Progress in CommunicationSciences, and ChristopherSterling'sMass Media Booknotes.

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