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CHAPTER FIFTEEN Theories of Media and Society. Agenda Setting Function  Authors: McCombs & Shaw: 1967 Presidential election  Main (original) idea: Media.

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Presentation on theme: "CHAPTER FIFTEEN Theories of Media and Society. Agenda Setting Function  Authors: McCombs & Shaw: 1967 Presidential election  Main (original) idea: Media."— Presentation transcript:

1 CHAPTER FIFTEEN Theories of Media and Society

2 Agenda Setting Function  Authors: McCombs & Shaw: 1967 Presidential election  Main (original) idea: Media influence what we think about—not what we think!  Not persuasion—but importance of issues

3 Agenda Setting Theory: The Core Proposition  Agenda setting is the “process whereby the news media lead the public in assigning importance to various public issues” by giving more space and time to an issue.

4 Agenda Setting Theory (1970’s)  Types of agendas:  Media agenda (topics covered by media)  Public agenda (topics public believes to be important)  Policy agenda (issues that decision makers believe are important)  Agenda Setting Theory in the comm. discipline has concentrated on the relationship between the media agenda and the public agenda

5 Figure 15.1 Public Agenda Policy Agenda Media Agenda Gatekeepers, influential media, spectacular news events Personal exper. & comm. among elites and other individuals Real world indicators of the importance of an agenda issue or event

6 Agenda Setting Theory  The researchers first conducted a content analysis of newspaper and television coverage of the campaign  The researchers then interviewed undecided voters about what issues were important (time- lag study)  These two agendas (media and public) were virtually identical, with media focus preceding public focus

7 Example ASF study: time-lag study

8 Agenda Setting Theory: Establishing Causality  The correlation found between the media agenda and the public agenda could be interpreted two ways  Does the media agenda cause the public agenda, or vice versa?  Further research suggests that the major causal direction is from media to public (though there is some “mutual” influence)

9 Agenda Setting Theory: Theoretical Developments Contingency factors  Audience need for orientation  high interest in issue and high uncertainty Also education level and political interest  Issue Obtrusiveness  more obtrusive if audience has experience with issue and less obtrusive (unobtrusive) if not  media effects greater for unobtrusive issues

10 Agenda Setting Theory: Theoretical Developments Contingency factors  How do types of Media influence public agenda?  newspaper vs. television Broadcast quicker influence; print longer lasting But very complex issue

11 Agenda Setting Theory: Theoretical Developments Second-Level Agenda Setting  First-level agenda setting--the issues (objects) in the media  Second-level agenda setting tells audience what to think about these issues  Framing--process through which media emphasize some aspects of reality and downplay others creating interpretive schema (e.g., by subtopics, placement, tone, narrative form, details, etc.)

12 Agenda Setting Theory: Theoretical Developments Psychological mechanism  Priming  effects of previous context on retrieval and interpretation of subsequent information  particularly when it is ambiguous

13 Spiral of Silence Theory  Spiral of Silence Theory (SOS) was developed by Noelle-Neumann as an “all-encompassing” theory of public opinion (began with her affiliation to Nazi party in the 1930s and 1940s—Americans’ view of Germans)  SOS relates several levels of analysis: psychological processes, interpersonal communication, and mass media

14 Spiral of Silence Theory: Key Concepts (Tenants Tenets of Theory)  People have a fear of isolation  Individuals also assess the nature of public opinion through a quasi-statistical sense which is influenced (biased) by media’s constant presence.  When individuals believe public opinion is against them, they will thus be unwilling to speak out  The Train Test

15 Media Friends, Family Fear of Isolation Silence regarding “public opinion” View of Public Attitude

16 Spiral of Silence  4 aspects of media:  Ubiquity (pervasiveness)  Consonance (coherence)  Cumulative  Accessible

17 Spiral of Silence Theory: The Spiral Process  As these three factors work together, public opinion will spiral down and reflect dominant perceptions  The spiral of silence will be mitigated by several factors:  The spiral only applies to moral issues  “Hard core” advocates will always speak  The educated and affluent will more often speak

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19 Spiral of Silence Theory: Evidence and Extensions  Evidence for SOS has been relatively weak; thus extensions have been proposed  First, some suggest that the spiral of silence will work only with regard to valued reference groups  Second, some have looked at other factors that will predict an individual’s willingness to “speak out”—e.g., self-efficacy  Has been critiqued for assumptions that media are liberal and people are powerless

20 Media & World View Cultivation Theory (or Analysis)  Author: George Gerbner:  Background:  National Commission on the Causes & Prevention of Violence (1967)  Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior (1972)  Cultural Indicators Project/Cultural Environment Movement  Main Point: Media creates (cultivates) in audience a way of seeing the world

21 Cultivation Theory (Gerbner—advent of television)  CT concentrates on one medium: Television  CT considers the ways in which television influences our socially constructed views of reality (not just topics or issues)  What about video games?

22 Cultivation Theory  Assumptions about the Nature of Viewing  We do not watch particular shows or genres of shows, but we view by the clock  TV becomes like a “member of the family,” like a “religion” (heavy v. light viewers, the ‘TV type’)  Do you agree with Gerbner et al.’s claim from 1986 that although television has changed since the 1950’s, these assumptions still hold?

23 Cultivation Theory: The Cultivation Effect Given these assumptions about television and viewing: Cultivation describes the long-term and cumulative impact of television on our views of reality—the nature of the world and people within that world.

24 Cultivation Theory: Methods for Testing  Content Analysis: The “television world” is assessed through content analysis (e.g., ethnic groups, crimes, etc.)  Cultural Indicators: Viewers’ perceptions of the world are assessed through survey  In comparing light viewers with heavy viewers, researchers find that heavy viewers’ perceptions of reality are most in line with the “television world” view

25 Cultivation Theory  Key Terms:  Violence: Any actual or threat of physical harm  Violence Index: Analysis of week of violence  “Ice-age analogy” (cumulative effect)  Mean World Syndrome: Belief that the world is a “mean and scary place”

26 Cultivation Theory  Violence in the media  Prime time crime 10x that in real world (1982)  8K murders, 100K acts of violence by end of elementary school  13K deaths by end of High School  2/3 characters involved in violence  1 Day: (1997) Assaults: 389 serious, 73 simple 362 uses of guns 273 punches

27 TV Viewing (Hs/Day) Light: < 2 hours/day Heavy: >4 hours/day Stereotypes (racial & gender) MainstreamingViews of …..Mean World Syndrome

28 “The repetitive pattern of television’s mass-produced messages and images forms the mainstream of the common symbolic environment that cultivates the most widely shared conceptions of reality”

29 Cultivation Theory: Critiques and Extensions  Major critique: The cultivation effect is generally found to be very small (esp. after controlling for demographic variables)  Response to critique: First, any effect on views of reality is important. Second, other factors can be added to enhance predictive value of theory:  Mainstreaming (homogenization of views for heavy viewers)  Resonance (more effect for viewers who have had related experiences)

30 Cultivation Theory: Critiques and Extensions (cont.)  Cultivation Theory has also been criticized with regard to assumptions about television and viewing  These critiques are especially relevant in view of changing technology  Cable and satellite offerings might mitigate assumption of coherence  Video-recording technology might mitigate assumption of viewing by the clock

31 Cultivation Theory: Critiques and Extensions (cont.)  Extension has been proposed to distinguish between first-order and second-order cultivation effects  First-order effect: Statistical descriptions of the world  Second-order effect: General nature of the world  Extension has been proposed to evaluate nature of cultivation relationship  ??Why are there no theories of cultivation based on music???

32 Final Paper  (1)Summarize the theory (history, key components, fundamental assumptions or propositions, etc. ) —Is it primarily interpretive, critical, post-pos.?  (2) Critique the worth of the theory according to Miller’s criteria (accuracy, consistency, scope, parsimonious, heuristic)  (3)Identify and integrate a minimum of five to eight research studies motivated by the theory  Some studies will test the theory and some will simply apply it

33 Final Paper  (4)Analyze current state of the theory based on the research applications (Has the theory been appropriately/sufficiently tested? has it been applied to the appropriate contexts?, etc.)  You will refer primarily to the articles you reviewed in the paper; however, you should also mention applications or tests that may have been beyond the parameters you set for your summary section.  (5)propose what should be done with the theory in the future (e.g., what direction should future research take? What elements need to be added to the theory? etc.).


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