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Reviewed Work(s): Television in Politics: Its Uses and Influence. by Jay G. Blumler and
Denis McQuail
Review by: William H. Harlan
Source: American Sociological Review, Vol. 35, No. 2 (Apr., 1970), pp. 388-389
Published by: American Sociological Association
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Accessed: 03-09-2017 19:43 UTC

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that it reflects the point of view of one portion These strains have led to a particular pattern
of the intellectual community in a serious in- of behavior among the officers: strict adherence
tellectual debate. What is needed now is for to rules, rigidity, lack of delegation of authority,
the pro-McLuhanists to muster their arguments. and unadaptability to changing demands. The
organizational structure also curbs innovative
behavior because promotions are based primarily
on seniority and performing "routine tasks rou-
Bureaucrats Under Stress: Administrators and
Administration in an Indian State, by
Unlike many studies of the Indian Civil Ser-
RICHARD P. TAUB. Berkeley, Calif.: Uni-
vice, this work is empirical in nature. However,
versity of California Press, 1969. 235 pp.
the small sample (Indian Administrative Service
officers and other governmental officials) places
BHOPINDER S. BOLARIA severe limitations on possible generalizations
from Taub's findings. But still he generalizes,
University of Maine
and his generalizations are unguarded and un-
warranted. Even if one grants the representa-
In this book the writer reports on his inter-
tiveness of the sample, the findings apply pri-
views and conversations with civil servants,
marily to civil servants working in the Secre-
educators, politicians, businessmen, and engi-
tariat. His discussion of strains is based upon
neers. The total sample is comprised of 68
respondents from a small capital city in the selective interview data. The reader is left with
State of Orissa, India. He examines the attitudes the impression that Taub is using selective and
scanty information to support his arguments.
which the civil servants bring to their jobs, the
nature of their tasks, the organizational context
The book lacks any theoretical perspectives,
except in the last few pages where Taub pre-
of their work, their relationships with one
another, and the influence of these and other
sents a brief discussion of the Weberian model
of bureaucracy and an analysis of why this
organizational-structural factors and non-work-
related cultural factors on their work perform-
model fails to work in the present context.
The book might be of some benefit to those
who are interested in bureaucracies in develop-
Taub presents a brief history of the civil
ing countries and the problems faced by the
service in India and describes its organizational
researcher in conducting an empirical study of
structure. The major portion of the book is
this nature.
devoted to the sources of strains and their ef-
fects on the work-role performance of the civil
servants. He identifies four sources: the chang-
ing nature of the job, the democratization of Television in Politics: Its Uses and Influence,
government, the ceiling on incomes, and the by JAY G. BLUMLER and DENIs MCQUAIL.
British legacy. Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago
The strains are primarily due to the dis- Press, 1969. 379 pp. $13.25.
crepancy between the expectations and the
actual working conditions of the civil servants. WILLIAM H. HARLAN
Many of them joined the service expecting a Ohio University, Athens
position of power, autonomy, and prestige. How-
ever, in the Secretariat they find themselves This study of two Yorkshire constituencies
working in advisory rather than decision-making during the British general election of 1964 pre-
positions. Formerly representatives of the sents the best analysis thus far published of the
Crown, under democracy they are now "public role of television in a political campaign. The
servants." The officials find themselves under authors, of the University of Leeds, build upon
pressure from two sources: publicly elected the work of numerous students of political be-
representatives, who consider that the officials havior and communication over the past 25
are responsible to them for their actions; and years, and meticulously identify, in more detail
subordinate technicians, who demand recogni- than any previous study, the manner in which
tion for their increasingly important role. An- televised communication is enmeshed with
other impact of democratization is the ceiling political perceptions, attitudes, and behavior.
on incomes, which in the officers' view prevents A panel of 748 respondents selected by in-
them from achieving anticipated and deserved terval sampling from voter registration lists was
standards of living. A not insignificant amount interviewed three times during a nine-month
of strain arises for the civil servant acting on period. The objectives were "to find out why
"rational" Western values in a "traditional" people watch or avoid party broadcasts; what
Indian culture. uses they wish to make of them; and what

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their preferences are between alternative ways tance, but they do not explicate its meaning.
of presenting politicians on television." The The report can be faulted also for a tendency
authors define their approach as the "often to reify the term motive, for insufficient atten-
recommended" but untried "uses-and-gratifica- tion to social class variables, for disproportion-
tions approach" suggested by Katz and Klapper. ate emphasis upon the neatly-packaged party
Among the questions generated by their per- broadcasts, and for treatment of the campaign
spective are these: "If voters are not percep- as a discrete event in the flow of political
tibly influenced in their political outlook by ex-
happenings. But these reservations should not
posure to a television campaign, why do they obscure the values and importance of the study:
follow it at all?" "Does an individual's motiva- it is superior to any present American study
tion for following a campaign have any effect of political television, even after our fifth "TV
upon his susceptibility to persuasion?" "Is there election." Its design, method, and theory are
a rational foundation to the efforts of voters to explicit; it can and should be replicated in other
follow the campaigning activities of political settings. Politicians and voters in several nations
parties and leaders?" These and similar ques- now have become adroit in their uses of tele-
tions are not merely rhetorical; they are taken vision; it behooves behavioral scientists of all
up in the analysis of data and effectively kinds to determine what they are up to, both
answered. manifestly and latently. This study is a firm
Three types of scales were utilized in the in- step in that direction.
terviews. Analysis of responses yielded the
following results, among others: As in the U.S.,
television was the preferred source of news, but
Psychology and Politics: An Introductory
only half of the audience was "politically in-
Reader, edited by LEROY N. RIESELBACH and
terested," even at the height of the campaign;
GEORGE I. BALCH. New York: Holt, Rinehart
however, the "politically indifferent" also
and Winston, 1969. 305 pp. Paperbound.
watched and were considerably influenced. Per-
sons in non-manual occupations and middle- $4.50.
aged persons were more concerned with leader DON D. SMITH
"image" and "personality" than were manual
Florida State University
workers and young voters. The dominant theme
in television-watching was "surveillance of the
On that great continuum in the sky by which
political environment"-what's-in-it-for-me ?-
collections of readings are graded from excellent
with "contest excitement" as a minor theme.
to bad, this one stands as less than "so-so." The
Many viewers found television to be "the
intended goal of the book is to illustrate the role
medium without a message": they wanted more
of psychological factors (in contrast to social
provocative confrontations between party
factors) in political behavior. For the purposes
leaders, partly to probe their policies, and
of this book, the editors consider "psychological
partly to ward off undue influence by one-sided
factors" to be synonymous with "personality."
presentations. The least educated voters-pre-
The editors explicitly state that they consider it
sumably the most disadvantaged-had the least
to be "frankly introductory in character"; they
interest in the campaign, as if they were resigned
intend it for the student with little knowledge
to the role of pawns in the political game. Tele-
of psychology, research methodology, or statis-
vision enhanced knowledge of party policies and
altered the salience of campaign issues, but
Legitimate as these aims are, the introductory
ultimately changed few votes. The Liberal
material by the editors takes an unnecessarily
(third) party was the chief beneficiary of tele-
elementary stance. Few of today's college stu-
vision; and the authors conclude that the for-
dents, for example, need be told that "normal
tunes of a third party, in Britian at least, now
people, no less than abnormal people, have per-
depend largely upon the rules governing access
sonalities." Sociologists will wince at the asser-
to television. In a "critical election," they be-
tion that personality is a variable that operates
lieve, the third party serves as a half-way house
independently of social and cultural factors.
for politically-conscious voters who break their
Fortunately, the readings themselves do not
traditional party allegiances.
carry out the statements of the editors; but
The reviewer's major criticism is that the that is, in itself, one of the contradictions in the
study does not advance the concept of surveil- book which are likely to confuse the beginning
lance much beyond the point where Lasswell student. Other sources of confusion will be found
left it in 1948 or Wright in 1959, despite its in the editors' interpretation of "personality."
relevance to the social phychological aims of Following Kluckhohn and Mowrer's conceptual
the study: the authors demonstrate its impor- scheme of twenty-five years ago, the editors

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