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Study of Media History, Media and Society: Analysis of Elements and Theories of Mass Communication

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The study of Media history, Media and Society is one that requires one to have an open mind and offer critic when necessary. This study also requires one to be very analytical in terms of how the media displays reality to its audiences. This study also involved the relationship between the producers of media information and the receivers of the information provided by the media.

The early forms of oral communication and printed communication, globally

Oral communication has its origin and dominance during the pre-industrial and pre-literate communities. Ideas, feelings and attitudes were expressed using ‘spoken word’ in the early societies due to the fact that people could not read nor write, nothing was written. During that period there were no televisions, no radios, no written records, no written reports, no newspapers and if there were, they were very few. Things such as politics, human interest matters, views and the state of the society were expressed with the use of the spoken word (Fourie,91). Oral communication influenced theorists why writing that developed linguistics that focused on understanding the rules of language. Printed communication culture has its origin from about 6000 years ago, that is when visual recordings of history and messages started and they started with cave paintings and carvings. For about three thousand years, phonetic alphabets have been known. The history the paintings that we know today goes back as far as 800 BC this therefore explains why writing makes up a small part of the more than a quarter of the million years of the history of Homo sapiens (Inglis 1990). In countries such as China printed communications as made use of by things like scripts that were preserved in monasteries. In India temples had scribes. Egypt made use of hiepglyphics and other orthographies. Books are the oldest form of printed communication.

The way printed communication became mass communication, and eventually developed into broadcasting.

A German known as Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press. The invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg can be viewed as the start of the information revolution (Fourie 2007:93) as it had a significant impact on civilization. Publishing contributed to the literacy levels being more advanced. The accessibility of artistic, scientific, religious and legal documents increased as even the less privileged could access them. The access to document, books and the advancement of print media as it is known in the present day has influenced politics, science, education, religion, art and the way and the way mass communication were conducted changed due to the change of literacy over five hundred years. books, newspapers and the later development of magazines in the early 1700s. Electronic media started to rapidly develop and in the 1920s radio emerged as a mass media medium. As the popularity for mass entertainment grew and the advancement in technology led to the introduction of telegraphs, cellphones and the wireless due to the increased demand for these. An addition of pictures influenced the invention of technology in the early 1940s. Television was considered to be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century.

The elements of mass communication and the two theories used to explain how this communication functions

Mass communication is made up of five elements which are namely the communicator, the medium, the message, the audience and the communication. The communicator can be defined as the ‘collective body’ of professionals that create programs, screen news items, and the sources that provide the news items (Fourie 2007:97). The medium could be the radio, newspapers, television, magazines, newspapers, the Internet, videos, compact disks, sound cassettes and so forth (Fourie 2007:98). The message is known to have an abstract and concrete meanings, the content can be expressed in two forms namely linguistically and visually. The substance, content, form and the message are he four elements of a message (Fourie 2007:99). The audience can be defined as the recipients of media messages (Fourie 2007:100). Communication can be regarded as a dialogue that moves towards mutual understanding. The cultivation theory by the George Gerbner is one of the theories that are to explain how mass communication works. Cultivation is a term that is used to describe how television as a significant contribution the conceptions of social reality. Another theory that is used to describe how mass media works is the ‘The Medium is the message’ theory by Marshal McLuhan. This theory is about how the personal and social consequences of any medium which how we extend ourselves is the result of how we extend ourselves is a result of the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by a single extension of ourselves (Durham 2012:100).

The basic assumptions of the positivist media studies, examples of where it could be used and its limitations especially in multi-group society such as South Africa

The main assumption of the positivist media studies is that the media assists shaping the public opinion and, in this manner, may ignite social change. This shows that mass media could be a tool to better society. The mass positivist media studies may be used in politics to influence the minds of the people, may also be used to economically grow a media company and can also be used in the running of effective campaigns (Fourie 2007:120). The limitations of this approach are that the media may generalize on the basis of the facts that are calculated (Fourie 2007:121), considering that South Africa is a ‘diverse’ country and the fact that positivism encouraged reductionism makes it difficult to just assume that the variables that are chosen by positivism have a similar influence on the different and diverse people of South Africa. The positivist approach can have a negative impact when it comes to influencing the minds of people in South Africa because the assumptions of the positivism tend to be vague a they’re made based on generalized facts and stats and do not tend to have the same impact on different people in South Africa.

The way that the media landscape in South Africa has developed since the emergence of a) the Internet, b) social media

In South Africa the Internet is believed to have the potential of enhancing and improving the development in a number of sectors (Fourie 2001:605). The media landscape has improved since the internet emerged in the sense that the committees that South Africa is in have made use of the internet in order to digitally improve the connections that Africa will have with other international countries (Fourie 2007:81). The internet in South Africa has to a large extent ignited social change. The lives of scholars have been eased due to the access to the internet. The media has now become more effective in terms of communication since the Internet emerged. The emergence of the Internet has also had a great impact on the strategies of marketing communications. The media landscape in South Africa has developed since social media emerged as social media is used as a tool for crisis communication.

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The way critical theory is used today

Today critical theory has to do with the need for changing the world in a positive way (Tyson 2015:5). Feminism for example shows how critical theory allows for freedom of expression as women now have a voice and can express their views and challenge the inequalities between sexes and has been seen to have been successful in terms of increasing the self-esteem of women. There has been freedom of expression in terms of gender because the LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Queer, Intersex) can freely express themselves unlike in the olden days when they were attacked for being themselves. The media today is known for being an industry that instills a sense of consciousness (Fourie 2007:130) among audiences. Today media is believed to be in favor of certain groups such as economic, social, political and cultural at the cost of other groups (Fourie 2007:135). The media allows for the views, opinions of people (Fourie 2007:144) which shows that indeed critical theory is critical of ideologies that can influence the media as well as audiences.

The short-term effect theories of mass communication

Between the 1930s and the 1940s it was believed that the way that people behave, their attitudes and ways of thinking were strongly influenced by the media and this is known as the hypodermic needle theory. The media reports that are produced have the potential of causing fear among the media audience. This theory has its basis on the belief that the media ‘injects’ certain attributes such as values, attitudes and ideas (Fourie 2007:232). Dangerous reactions such as fear, anger and anxiety can cause panic and disturbances by civilians (McQuail 2005:466). Another short-term theory is the gratification theory. The gratification theory seeks to find what it is exactly that people use the media for. In this theory ‘diversion’ is believe to be one the reasons why people use the media, by this it is implied at people use the media to distract themselves from their day to day routines. The media for some people is used for relations that are personal, for some it is a personal identity and for some it is for the purpose of surveillance (Fourie 2007:236)

The long-term effects theories of mass communication

The fact that the audiences of media may not immediately affected by the content but can be affected over a long period of time (Fourie 2007:238). One of the theories of the long-term effects is the accumulation theory. The accumulation theory has its basis on the fact that if the media is mainly focused on a certain topic or content consistently for over a long period of time, the attitudes and behaviors of the audience may change. This theory explains the impact of media regarding the changing of people’s attitudes in issues such as style, politics, style, divorce and so forth over a long period of time. the accumulation theory also shows that the media could change how things such as ace relations can be viewed different over long period time (Fourie 2007:239). Another theory is the social expectation theory which is based on the fact that the more people consume the content of the media for example watching television can contribute to the audience inheriting social norms of that television program over a long period time (Fourie 2007:239).

The development of the public sphere concept

The public sphere can be defined as a place where people can debate, where rational choices can be taken, it is a platform where views of different people can be put together in order to come out with a rational decision. The public sphere is also a platform where public political debate can take place. Through the concept of the public sphere one can understand that power plays a major role in mass communication (Fourie 2007:140). If it happens that the government has power over the public sphere it may limit the freedom of expression that the public has. According to McQuail if the media acts as a public sphere there can be issues such as views that oppose maybe shut out, the diversity in media may decrease. Criticism may arise about the rise and fall of the public. The drift from entrainment and education to the increased desire to keep up with the pressure of competition and commercialization that has increased. (Fourie 2007:139)

The socio-political origins of Frankfurt School and how it became the foundation for critical media studies

The Frankfurt school was made official in Germany in 1923, it was established to manage sociological research, although it was closed down by the Nazis, its leaders moved to America where they proceeded with their research at the Columbia University in the United States of America.it was the ideas of Frankfurt school that embodied the critical theory with the point of showing that the society’s reality had contradictions within itself. The ideology of the media became the focal point of the critical theory and the Frankfurt school started to pay attention spreading the ideology of capitalism through the media. The beliefs of the Frankfurt school are that a capitalist society could be changed by being democratic (Horkheimer 1972: 249-250).

Finally, above information has shown how the study of media history, media society requires one to be very analytical and critical.

References

  1. McQuail, D. 2005: McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory. 5th edition, London: McGraw-Hill.
  2. Tyson, L, 2015: Critical Theory Today. 3rd edition.
  3. IDJEDICT, 2006. Volume 2. number 4. open campus; The University of West Indies; West Indies.
  4. Belch, M. 2006 Media has been effective in communication since the emergence of the internet. 28th International Conference on Information. IEE.
  5. RGL Prayor, J. 2003: Bright. Australian Journal of Career.
  6. Fourie, PJ 2007. Media Studies. Vol.1. Media History, Media and Society.

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Study of Media History, Media and Society: Analysis of Elements and Theories of Mass Communication. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/study-of-media-history-media-and-society-analysis-of-elements-and-theories-of-mass-communication/
“Study of Media History, Media and Society: Analysis of Elements and Theories of Mass Communication.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/study-of-media-history-media-and-society-analysis-of-elements-and-theories-of-mass-communication/
Study of Media History, Media and Society: Analysis of Elements and Theories of Mass Communication. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/study-of-media-history-media-and-society-analysis-of-elements-and-theories-of-mass-communication/> [Accessed 3 Feb. 2023].
Study of Media History, Media and Society: Analysis of Elements and Theories of Mass Communication [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Feb 3]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/study-of-media-history-media-and-society-analysis-of-elements-and-theories-of-mass-communication/
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