Theory Overview Section Launched.

Hey everyone – we are currently in the process of launching the theory overview section as a part of the blog and will be publishing 3-5 page PDF overviews of each theory. A simple, easy way to get a short overview of a theory and be exposed to all the top level ideas one needs to obtain a basic understanding of it.

So stay tuned, you can find them under the Theory Overviews tab in the global nav. None there yet, as each is posted we will post a blog to announce it, so stay subscribed to the RSS and get notified as soon as they drop. -g.d.

Cultivation Theory: How Violence Might Affect Us

Originally proposed by Gerbner & Gross (1976 – Living with television: The violence profile. Journal of Communication, 26, 76.) Cultivation theory states that high frequency viewers of television are more susceptible to media messages and the belief that they are real and valid. Heavy viewers are exposed to more violence and therefore are effected by the Mean World Syndrome, the belief that the world is a far worse and dangerous place then it actually is.

She's been watching too much TV

According to the article the heavy viewing of television is creating a homogeneous and fearful populace. If one were to count the number of studies done on TV violence and its effect on viewers you would be reading articles when the Republicans take back the White House and long after. It is by far one of the most studied topics in mass comm research. Why you ask? Because it is one of the most hot button issues within society. And guess what they have learned? That results are inconclusive. Apparently with more information comes less clarity. No one really knows how or even if violence on TV or in film negatively or positively affects its views. They think they know, but you’ll get different answers depending on who you talk to.

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The Agenda-Setting Function of the Mass Media

mass comm theory booksBy now most people who study mass communication have heard of agenda setting theory. It was first put forth by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw in Public Opinion Quarterly (you can download the full article here). They originally suggested that the media sets the public agenda, in the sense that they may not exactly tell you what to think, but they may tell you what to think about. In their first article where they brought this theory to light their abstract states:

In choosing and displaying news, editors, newsroom staff, and broadcasters play an important part in shaping political reality. Readers learn not only about a given issue, but also how much importance to attach to that issue from the amount of information in a news story and its position. In reflecting what candidates are saying during a campaign, the mass media may well determine the important issues—that is, the media may set the “agenda”of the campaign.

McCombs and Shaw went on to write on agenda setting at great length, the have produced many articles and research on the various facets of the theory. Since their introduction of this theory there has been a plethora of research regarding its uses, and their now exists an extension of the theory called Second Level Agenda Setting. Of all mass comm theories, this one is one of the most beaten to death. Continue reading

What is Theory?

Let’s think about this… I realize that as I get this blog off of the ground I may have missed one of the most important questions of all when it comes to Mass Communication theory. What exactly is it and what is it supposed to accomplish? As a basis for moving forward and creating a common ground from which we must all start, a foundation must be built before we can jump in to talking about the various theories and models Mass Comm scientists use. Let’s begin:

What is the goal of theory? Theory strives to formulate statements or propositions that will have some explanatory. This is our most basic definition and generalized way of looking at theory. Continue reading