Sociology Index

Mass Communication And Mass Society Syllabus

Mass Communication And Mass Society, Books on Mass Communication

Introduction To Communication Theory - COMM 1302

Introduction To Mass Media - Syllabus MMC

Survey of Mass Communication - Sociology 43, Syllabus

Theories of Mass Communication - Department of Mass Communications and Center for New Media, Colorado State University - Pueblo, Instructor: Samuel Ebersole, PhD
Application of information theories to mass communication problems. Nature of the communication process in groups and between mass media and audiences. Contribution of theoretical concepts to solving specific problems. (CSU-Pueblo Catalog).

The purpose of this course is to explore the theoretical foundations of the media from a social scientific perspective. We will trace the development of media theories following the four eras of mass communication theory as defined by the textbook: mass society theories, limited-effects perspectives, critical and cultural approaches, and meaning-making perspectives.

The develop a working knowledge of theories that explain the world of mass media and users of the media. Understand the historical development of the field of mass communication and its theoretical foundations. Critically evaluate theories as applied to practical mass communication problems, e.g., media portrayals of sex and violence. Text: Baran, S. & Davis, D (2008). Mass communication theory: Foundations, ferment, and future, 5th ed. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Introduction To Mass Media - Syllabus MMC
Instructor: Mr. Billy M. Oliver, Assistant Professor

Description: Development of a critical perception of the mass communication process and its results in both printed and electronic media. Applications of the ethics and codes of journalism to the changing roles and forms of journalistic media.

Required Text:
Baran, S.J. (2006). Introduction to Mass Communication: Media
Literacy and Culture. (4th ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.

Learning Outcomes and Specific Competencies
At the completion of the course, students will know the following:
1. The role ethics play in the mass media.
2. How books became the building blocks for the mass media.
3. The role of magazines in the mass media.
4. A brief history of newspapers and their role in mass media.
5. A basic understanding of information storage.
6. The impact of movies on mass media.
7. A brief history of radio.
8. How television evolved from radio and where it stands today.
9. An overview of journalism.
10. The importance of the mass media to public relations.
11. Advertising's role in mass media.
12. The basics of media research.
13. Mass media's effects on society and the individual.
14. How mass media functions in a political environment.
15. A brief history and overview of media law.

1. The changing communications media environment.
2. Theories of communication media.
3. The Evolution of the information society.
4. Economic issues in communication media.
5. communication media policy and ethics.
6. Globalization of communications media.
7. Print media.
8. Audio media.
9. Visual media.
10. Multichannel media.
11. The telephone industry.
12. The information services industry.
13. The computer industry.
14. Communication media in the work place.
15. The advertising industry.
16. The public relations industry.
17. Effects of mass media.
18. The social impacts of information technologies.

Survey of Mass Communication, Sociology 43, Syllabus, 11:15-12:05 MWF, 427 Waterman - Prof. Thomas Streeter,
This course looks at the social role and importance of modern media of communication and culture, from the book to the internet. It explores questions like the following:

What role have media like newspapers, television, and the internet played in making the modern world the way it is?

What happens when so much of our communication happens on a "mass" basis, between people who don't see or even know each other?

How can we study the signs, symbols, and cultural meanings that make up media messages?

How are the media organized, and how does organizational form shape content?

What difference does it make, for example, if media are funded with, say, advertising or tax money?

Readings: MediaMaking: Mass Media in a Popular Culture, edited by Lawrence Grossberg, Ellen Wartella, and D. Charles Whitney (Sage, 1998); and Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy by Robert McChesney (Seven Stories Press, 1997) are available at the bookstore. Other required readings are available on electronic reserve.

Course Outline
The following is a list of readings and study questions for each section of the course. Tentative dates when the material will be covered are listed after each heading; do the readings before the date listed for discussing them in class. In each section, the "theory" readings are listed first, and the "events" readings second; usually your discussion list assignment will be to apply something from the "theory" readings to something in the "events" readings. The questions will both guide you in learning the course material throughout the semester, and will serve as study questions for the exams. Look them overbefore doing the reading or attending lectures. In all likelihood, it will be necessary to make minor changes in the readings, schedule, and questions during the course; such changes will be announced in class, and you are responsible for finding out about changes whether or not you attend lectures. MediaMakingrefers to the textbook. Most other readings are on reserve in the library.


1. MediaMaking, Chapter 1
Why is the textbook titled "MediaMaking"? What are the differences between interpersonal media, mass media, and network media? How can media be distinguished according to channel modalities, economic modalities, institutions, technological manifestations, content, and information technologies? What are institutions, cultural forms, and mediation? What are the differences between a transmission and a cultural model of communication? How can media power be understood as effects? as determination and control? What are the differences between the conflict and consensus models of society?

Modernization, History, Social Development

1. MediaMaking, Chapter 2

2. Warren St. John, "Dating a Blogger, Reading All About It," The New York Times, May 18, 2003.

3. Bertolt Brecht, "Radio as a Means of Communication," (a talk delivered in Germany in 1930), from Mattelart and Mattelart, Communication and Class Struggle Vol 2, (New York International General, 1985 pp. 169-171;

4. Raymond Williams, "The Social History of the Uses of Television Technology," from Television: Technology and Cultural Form, pp. 19-31.

What are the differences between Braudel's event, conjuncture, eras, and epochs? What are the different theories of mass society? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What happens in the transition from oral to print to electronic culture? What is technological determinism and what are the problems with it? What are modernization, modernism, modernity, and postmodernism? What is meant by "stages of development" in social theory? What are some common way of categorizing the stages, and how are they relevant to understanding media? What are some of the differences between oral and print societies? What is mobile privatization? What is its importance for media? What are the key technological breakthroughs that accompanied the transition to the "print" and "electronic" eras? What is technological convergence in communications? What distinguishes manuscript, oral, and print cultures? What were the limitations of preprint written culture? What different technologies make up the printing press, and what are their origins? What roles did social conditions play in the spread of printing? What role did copyright play in the evolution of books? The rise of publishing companies? How are publishing companies organized? What new trends have been introduced in publishing in the twentieth century? How did the rise of print shape science? the Protestant Reformation? the formation of dissident political movements? modern bureaucracy?

How was the formation of radio broadcasting early in the twentieth century like the formation of the internet today? What were the contributions of Marconi, and De Forest to radio? What were the first uses of radio technology? What role did amateurs play in radio's history? the military? entrepreneurs? Why were large corporations interested in broadcasting at first? How did advertising become the principle funding source of American broadcasting? How did this shape broadcast content? How and why did government regulation arise in radio? What were the principle radio networks in the 1930s, and what has happened to them since? What is the significance of the Communications Act of 1934? What does the law say about regulation "in the public interest?"

People and Organizations

1. MediaMaking, Chapter 3

2. "Expert Opinion: How to Shoot a Nude Scene [and other insider advice]," New York Times Sunday Magazine, 11/3/2002

3. Josh Rottenburg, "The Insider's Indie: how a low-budget flick by a no-name director became a major studio's Christmas release," New York Times Sunday Magazine, 11/3/2002, pp. 22-24;

4. CHRIS BALLARD, "How to Write a Catchy Beer Ad," New York Times, January 26, 2003.

5. Doug Underwood, "Assembly-line Journalism," Columbia Journalism Review, July/August 1998, pp. 42-44

6. Katharine Q. Seelye, "TV Drama, Pentagon-Style: A Fictional Terror Tribunal," New York Times, March 31, 2002

7. Katherine Rosman, "JonBenet, Inc." Brill's Content, February 2000, pp. 96-107, 128.

Optional -- Peter Maass, "Good Kills," New York Times Sunday Magazine, April 20, 2003:

What are the different levels of analysis for understanding people and organizations in media? How do they relate to one another? What is the resource dependence perspective? What are roles, reference groups, and routines and how do they matter in the media? How do formulas, trackrecords, predictability, efficiency, and "borrowing" work in the media? What are the forms of censorship? What other ways does government relate to media? Other institutions to media institutions? What is meant by the "television-industrial-complex?" What does it have to do with the relation of program producers to their audience? What is the difference between direct and structural forms of advertising influence on television content? How do the structures and characteristics of television contribute to the industrialization of culture? How are program ideas and programs created?

Media and Economics

1. MediaMaking, Chapter 4

2. Robert McChesney, Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy, New York: Seven Stories Press, 1997.

3. "Synergizing Private Lynch," New York Times, June 15, 2003.

4. JIM RUTENBERG, "To Interview Former P.O.W., CBS Dangles Stardom," New York Times, June 16, 2003.

5. Paul Farhi, "Mega Hurts: Clear Channel's Big Radio Ways Are Getting a Lot of Static These Days," Washington Post, Wednesday, May 29, 2002; Page C01,

6. Matt Witt, "We Rarely See Those Who Labor: Newspapers and broadcasters favor corporate views, ignoring those of people who do America's work," 8-26-99: ibew1613.

7. Gloria Steinem, "Sex, Lies, and Advertising," from Joan Gorham (ed.), Mass Media Annual Editions 99/00, Dushkin/McGraw-Hill, pp. 139173-181; originally published in Ms. Magazine, July/August 1990, pp. 18-28.

8. Bill Moyers "Now: Media Concentration" (8 MB quicktime video; requires Quicktime player.)

What are monopoly, oligopoly, and limited competition in media structure? What are the differences between freedom of consumer choice and consumer control? What are the differences between direct and indirect payments for media products? What is vertical integration? "Synergy?" What are use value, exchange value, commodities, the labor theory of value, surplus value, and economies of scale? What are the different sources of media support? What forms of competition are important to media? What are the roles of break even points, royalties, hit-to-release ratios, and secondary markets? How do media try to reduce risk? What is the difference between vertical and horizontal integration?

How does advertising support change the economic relation of media to its audience? What is the traditional economic view of the nature of advertising? What are some problems with it? According to Gloria Steinem, why was Ms. Magazine forced to downsize and stop accepting advertising? What role does marketing and advertising play in a modern industrial consumer economy? Why are packaging and trademarks important in the history of advertising? Why did some industrialists advocate shorter hours and higher wages for workers at the turn of the century? Why is their strategy important to understanding consumerism, advertising, and media?

Meaning, Semiotics, Ideology

1. Soc. 43 Semiotics and Media

2. Ellen Seiter, "Semiotics and Television," from Robert C. Allen (ed.), Channels of Discourse, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987, pp. 17-41.

3. MediaMaking Chapter 5, "Meaning"

4. MediaMaking Chapter 6, "The Interpretation of Meaning"

5. MediaMaking Chapter 7, "Ideology"

6. MediaMaking Chapter 8, "Producing Identities"

7. Sut Jhally, "Tough Guise" (videotape) (To see Part 2 online, click here; requires Quicktime.)

What is the role of signs in culture and society? What are some problems with representational and conceptual theories of meaning? What is semiotics? What is its theory of meaning? On what principles is semiotics based? What is the principle of difference? of the arbitrariness of codes? What is the meaning of the following terms, and how are they related: sign, signifier, signified, iconic/motivated sign, arbitrary sign, metaphor, metonymy, paradigm, syntagm, denotation, connotation, myths, codes, articulation? How does one conduct a semiotic analysis? What role can semiotic codes play in social life? How does semiotic competence matter for media and children?

What questions does an interpreter ask of a text? Why is the notion of the author and the author's intention problematic? What are the following techniques of interpretation: theme and symbol analysis, content analysis, genre theory, and narrative analysis? What is the meaning of the following terms: discourse, narrator, narratee? What is the commutation test? What are binary oppositions? What is polysemy? aporias? What are the techniques for analyzing visual texts?

What is realism? the willing suspension of disbelief? What are realist, phenomenal, and social constructionist theories of ideology, and what are their strengths and weaknesses? What is interpellation? How does it relate to ideology? What are the varieties and sources of identity in the modern world? How do these matter to understanding the media? What are the different ways of constructing the audience as a market? What are their social implications? What is the difference between essentialist and nonessentialist ways of understanding identities? What is subjectivity?

Understanding Audiences: Consuming the Media

1. MediaMaking, Chapter 9

2. Todd Gitlin, "The Problem of Knowing," pp. 19-30, and "By the Numbers," pp. 47-55, from Inside Prime Time (New York: Pantheon, 1983).

3. Oscar H. Gandy, Jr., "Tracking the Audience," from John Downing, Ali Mohammadi, and Annabelle Sreberny-Mohammadi (eds.), Questioning the Media: A Critical Introduction, Newbury Park: Sage, 1990, pp. 166-179.

4. ROB WALKER, "The Marketing of No Marketing," New York Times, June 22, 2003.

5. Amy Harmon, "Star Wars' Fan Films Come Tumbling Back to Earth," New York Times, April 28, 2002

6. Marshall Sella, "The Remote Controllers," New York Times, October 20, 2002.

What factors make the audience "mysterious" to media producers and social scientists? What is the long term historical context of media consumption? What is meant by the term "mass" in "mass media?" What does it connote about the audience? What are some limitations to the term? How does the industry tend to view the audience? Why is it helpful to say that meanings resides in audiences, not in texts? What is the encoding/decoding model? What are preferred, oppositional, and negotiated meanings? What is functionalism? What are the different kinds of functions of media? What are the assumptions of functionalist approaches to the audience? What are some problems with functionalist accounts? How are they circular and conservative? What are the three main aspects of the social psychology of consumption of media? How do the differences between public, private, and transitional spaces matter to the sociology of consumption? What is the role of the home in the sociology of consumption? How do anonymous, institutional, and family relations influence the sociology of media consumption? What are fans, fashions, and subcultures, and how do they matter to media consumption?

What are the key features of the audience ratings system for television? What aspects of the system have led the audience ratings to become the major measure of success of television programming? What are the major criticisms of the ratings system? Why is Oscar Gandy concerned about audience surveillance? What is meant by "the active audience?" Uses and gratifications? Reception analysis? Dominant, negotiated, and oppositional decodings? What role does information gathering play in modern industry? What is the significance of the metaphor of the panopticon? How is digital distribution changing the ways that people think and act towards pop music?

Media and Behavior

1. MediaMaking, Chapter 10

2. MediaMaking, Chapter 11

3. Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, "TV Addiction," Scientific American, February, 2002.

What are the main theories of media effects? What methods are used to study them? Why did cultural approaches to media studies develop in opposition to media-effects research? What is the difference between cognitive, affective, and conative components of media effects. Why was Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" broadcast important in the history of media effects? What are the different dimensions of media effects? What are social learning and "contagion" theories? What is the McGuire Process model? the theory of reasoned action? information-processing approaches? What are the general findings of media violence research? What is desensitization? the scary world syndrome? What are the general findings of research into the effects of pornography? of research on educational effects of media on children?

News, Politics, and the Public

1. MediaMaking Chapter 12

2. MediaMaking, Chapter 13

3. Jim Edwards, "Wrong Turns," Brill's Content, January 2001, pp. 113-169;

4. "Race Against Prime Time" (video, California Newsreel): available in the Bailey-Howe library media center, or online: click here for part 1, and here for part 2. (Requires Quicktime.)

5. Sharyn Wizda, "Parachute Journalism," American Journalism Review, July/August 1997, pp. 40-44.

Why is news important to modern democracies? What factors constrain news gathering and dissemination? How do reporters decide what is news? How does economics influence their decisions? What are the main categories of news and reporting? What are their characteristics? How are newspaper and television newsrooms organized, and how do they differ in the ways they present news stories? What role do wire services play in the news? How have news consultants and new technologies influenced broadcast news? What is the theory of objective journalism? What is its history? What news practices and techniques is it associated with? How do these techniques influence the content of news? What are some of the limits to and criticisms of news objectivity? What is the difference between criticizing the news for bias and analyzing it as socially constructed? What is public journalism? Deliberative democracy?

What is the history of news? Why is it hard to define newsworthiness? What are news beats? How do reporters routinize the unexpected? What is the news net? Why do some worry about reporters' tendency to "go native"? Where does the initiative for most news stories come from? Why do news reports in different media so frequently resemble each other? Why does journalist objectivity fit the standards of an ideology? How do media influence political behavior? What are opinion leaders? Early-, campaign-, and late-deciders? What is agenda-setting? priming? third person effects? the spiral of silence?

What are some different definitions of the public? Why do some say the public is in decline? What are the different ways of representing the public? What is civic or public journalism? What roles do media and campaign advertising actually play in elections today? How has television transformed the campaign process in the last forty years?

Media Policy and the Future of Global Democracy

1. MediaMaking, Chapter 14

2. MediaMaking, Chapter 15, "Media Globalization"

3. Global Culture: a photo essay by Joe McNally, with text by Joel L. Swerdlow and Erla Swingle, National Geographic Vol. 196, No. 2, August 1999, pp. 2-33.

4. Umberto Eco, "Towards a Semiological Guerrilla Warfare," from Travels in Hyperreality, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986, pp. 135-144.

5. Jonathan Weinberg "Internet Governance"

6. Lawrence Lessig, "The Architecture of Information"

7. Michael Curtin and Thomas Streeter, "Media," in Culture Works: The Political Economy of Culture, University of Minnesota Press, 2001, pp. 225-249.

8. John Downing, "Alternative Media and the Boston Tea Party," from John Downing, Ali Mohammadi, and Annabelle Sreberny-Mohammadi (eds.), Questioning the Media: A Critical Introduction, Newbury Park: Sage, 1990, pp. 180-191.

Can you talk back to your TV? What is the enlightenment heritage? What are classical liberal ideas of press freedom? Why have they eroded in the twentieth century? What are social responsibility theories? What are the Marxist critiques of the media? What are cultural arguments about ideologies? What conditions underlie international communication? What is media imperialism? What are theories of hegemony and globalization? How are modern and postmodern theories of hegemony different? What is "semiological guerrilla warfare?" What does it have to do with the nature of contemporary media?

Distance Education: On-line section and Hybrid Section

Dr. Martha J. Haun E-mail:

Course Objectives: By developing an understanding of a variety of theories of human communication, students will achieve an understanding that permits a more flexible, useful, and discriminating interpretation of human communication events.

[recommended] Communication: Theory and Concepts, by Martha J. Haun,
McGraw-Hill, 2004, 6th
edition. An advance apology: This book is currently
under revision especially to correct typos that were the result of a crisis/rush to
deadline. It does, however, outline the lectures and thus reduce note-taking.
[recommended] Turner & West. Introducing Communication Theory Analysis &
Application. ISBN: 10-0-07-31561-5 or ISBN 13: 978-0-07-313561-8 McGraw-
Hill, 2007.


Lecture #1: The Role of Theory in the Study of Communication: Dr. Haun
[Haun1.ppt, systemK.ppt, inform.ppt, cyber.ppt] These PowerPoint
references are correlated to the video lectures and are available online for
additional review. A few are in the back of the Haun textbook.

Communication: Toward a Definition
• Transactional
• Feedback, Channels and Noise
• Messages and Contexts
• Three domains: social, public and media

The Nature of Theory
• Scientific Attitude
• Laws, Systems and Rules Perspectives
• Functions of Theories
• Evaluating Theories Page 6 of 9
• Examples of General Theories
• Systems Theory: Ludwig von Bertalanffy
• Information Theory: Shannon and Weaver

Lecture #2: Guest Dr. Robin Williamson [Robin1.ppt; Robin1B.ppt]
Theories of Verbal Coding and Thinking
• Signs, signals and symbols
• Semantics, Pragmatics and Syntactics
• Classical, Structural Linguistics
• Psychological Approaches
• Behavioristic: B.F. Skinner
• Generative Grammar: Noam Chomsky
• Language Acquisition: Behaviorist vs. Nativist

Theories of Thinking
• Behavioristic vs. Cognitive approaches
• Definition of a Concept: Bourne
• Cybernetic Approach/TOTE Model: Miller, Galant & Pribram
• Developmental School: Jean Piaget
• Reflective Thinking Approach: John Dewey

Lecture #3: Dr. Haun [Haun2.ppt; MeadSI.ppt; semantic.ppt]
Theories of Meaning
• The “Image:” Kenneth Boulding
• Interactionist Approach: John Dewey
• Representational Theory/Triangle of Meaning: Ogden/Richards
• Semantic Space: Charles Osgood
• Experiential Theories of Meaning
• Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: Linguistic Relativity Principle
• Elaborated & Restricted Codes: Basil Berstein
Theories of Interactionism and Dramatism
Representational Theories
• Symbolic Interaction: G. H. Mead
• H. Blumer and T. Kuhn
• Narrative Theories: Bormann and Fisher
• General Semantics: Korzybski and Johnson

Lecture #4: Dr. Haun
[drama.ppt, nonverb.ppt; NVconcpt.ppt]
• Dramaturgical: K. Burke and E. Goffman
Theories of Nonverbal Coding
• Definition and overview
• Structural Theories
• Theory of Kinesics: Birdwhistell
• Theory of Proxemics: Edward Hall
• Theory of Paralanguage: Trager
• Functional Theories
• Origin/Coding/Usage: Ekman & Friesen
• Theory of Behavioral Deviation: Dittman
Page 7 of 9
Lecture #5: Dr. Haun [persuas1.ppt]
Theories of Persuasion: Part I
• Overview
• Classical roots
• The Nature of Attitude: McGuire
• Functional Theory of Attitudes: Katz
• The Nature of Beliefs and Values: Rokeach
• The Role of Learning Theory
• Consistency Theories: Heider & Newcombe
• Cognitive Dissonance Theory: Leon Festinger

Lecture #6: Dr. Williamson [Robin2.ppt]
Theories of Persuasion: Part II
• Incentive Theory
• Self-perception Theory
• Impression Management
• Theory of Influenceability: Wm. McGuire
• Yale Theories of Persuasion: Janis & Hovland
• Information Processing Theories of Persuasion
• Social Judgment Theory: Sherif, Sherif & Nebergall
Lecture #7: Dr. Haun [persuas1.ppt] and REVIEW
Theories of Persuasion: Part III
• Elaboration Likelihood Model: Petty & Caccioppo
• Motivated Sequence: Alan Monroe
• Propaganda: Leonard Doob and Jacques Ellul

Media Influence, Media Organizations and Mass Communication.