AIOU Course Theories of  Mass Communication- II  (5636)

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Mass Communication Semester-III

Important Questions with Answers prepared by Faiza Gul, FRilmi Team (Errors and omissions acceptable) Disclaimer: All Questions and Answers are Based on self assessment and It is only Guess material. to join whatsapp group contact at 03068314733.

Question . 1 How do the groups we belong to influence our attitudes?/ what are those needs which make people to use mass media?

The groups we belong to play a significant role in shaping our attitudes through various psychological processes. Here are some ways in which group membership can influence our attitudes:

  1. Social Identity Theory: Social Identity Theory suggests that individuals derive a part of their self-concept and self-esteem from the groups to which they belong. When we identify with a particular group, such as a cultural, social, or professional group, we adopt the attitudes, values, and beliefs associated with that group. We may conform to the group’s norms and adopt attitudes that are consistent with those of other group members to maintain a positive social identity.
  2. Conformity: Conformity refers to the tendency to adjust one’s attitudes and behaviors to align with the majority opinion or norms of a group. People often conform to group attitudes to gain acceptance, avoid social rejection, or fit in with the group. This conformity can lead to a change in individual attitudes as they internalize the group’s perspective.
  3. Group Polarization: Group polarization occurs when individuals’ attitudes become more extreme after group discussion or interaction. When people with similar attitudes come together in a group, they tend to reinforce each other’s beliefs and opinions. Through group discussion, individuals may encounter new arguments or persuasive information that strengthens their initial attitudes, resulting in a polarization effect.
  4. Socialization: Group membership involves socialization processes, where individuals learn attitudes, values, and norms through interaction with group members. This socialization can occur through direct communication, observation, and reinforcement. For example, children acquire attitudes and beliefs from their families, schools, and peer groups as they grow and develop.
  5. Group Norms: Groups often establish norms, which are shared expectations for attitudes, behaviors, and values within the group. Adhering to group norms fosters a sense of cohesion and belonging. Group members may conform to these norms to maintain harmony and avoid conflict, which can shape and influence their attitudes.
  6. Group Influence and Persuasion: Within a group, individuals can influence each other’s attitudes through persuasion techniques. Persuasive messages, arguments, and social influence strategies employed by group members can shape and change attitudes. The credibility and status of group members can also impact the persuasive impact on others within the group.

It’s important to note that the influence of group membership on attitudes can vary depending on the individual’s level of identification with the group, the salience of the group in their life, and other individual factors. Additionally, individuals may belong to multiple groups, each with its own set of attitudes and norms, leading to complex interactions and influences on attitudes.

What are those needs which make people to use mass media?

People use mass media for various reasons, driven by their specific needs and motivations. Some common needs that prompt individuals to use mass media include:

  1. Information and Knowledge: People use mass media to satisfy their need for information and knowledge. They seek news updates, educational content, and access to a wide range of topics and perspectives. Mass media platforms such as newspapers, websites, and documentaries serve as valuable sources of information on current events, science, history, health, and more.
  2. Entertainment and Escapism: Mass media offers entertainment and serves as a means of escapism from daily routines and stress. Television shows, movies, music, novels, online videos, and social media platforms provide opportunities for relaxation, enjoyment, and diversion. They allow individuals to immerse themselves in stories, music, or virtual worlds, providing entertainment and a break from reality.
  3. Social Connection and Communication: Mass media enables individuals to connect with others and satisfy their social needs. Social media platforms, online communities, chat forums, and messaging apps facilitate communication, interaction, and the formation of virtual communities. People use these platforms to stay connected with friends and family, share experiences, exchange ideas, and participate in online discussions.
  4. Personal Development and Learning: Mass media can contribute to personal development and learning. Books, documentaries, educational programs, podcasts, and online courses offer opportunities for self-improvement, skill development, and intellectual growth. Individuals use mass media to expand their knowledge, acquire new skills, explore personal interests, and broaden their horizons.
  5. Opinion Formation and Expression: Mass media plays a role in shaping opinions and allows individuals to express their own views. News outlets, editorials, blogs, and social media provide platforms for individuals to engage in discussions, express their perspectives, and participate in public discourse. Mass media enables people to be informed about societal issues, form opinions, and engage in democratic processes.
  6. Emotional Gratification: Mass media can evoke emotions and provide emotional gratification. Films, music, literature, and other media forms have the power to evoke a range of emotions such as joy, excitement, empathy, or sadness. People may seek media content that resonates with their emotions, provides catharsis, or offers an emotional outlet.

It’s important to note that individual needs and motivations for using mass media can vary significantly. People may have multiple and overlapping needs, and the importance of these needs can differ based on personal preferences, cultural factors, and life circumstances.

Question . 2 What do you know about two-step flow model? Why scholars criticized it?

The two-step flow model is a communication theory that suggests that information and influence flow through opinion leaders to the broader population. The model was proposed by sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet in the 1940s. According to the two-step flow model, individuals are influenced by opinion leaders who are more knowledgeable and have a greater influence on their attitudes and behaviors than the mass media.

The two-step flow model suggests the following process:

  1. Opinion Leaders: Opinion leaders are individuals who are considered knowledgeable and influential within a particular field or domain. They actively seek out information from the mass media and other sources and interpret and filter that information. Opinion leaders then share their interpretations, opinions, and recommendations with others.
  2. Opinion Followers: Opinion followers are individuals who are influenced by the opinions and recommendations of the opinion leaders. They trust and rely on the judgment and expertise of the opinion leaders when forming their own attitudes and making decisions.

Scholars have offered various criticisms of the two-step flow model over the years. Some of the main criticisms include:

  1. Oversimplification: Critics argue that the two-step flow model oversimplifies the complex nature of communication and influence processes. The model assumes a linear process of information flow from media to opinion leaders and then to opinion followers, neglecting the role of personal factors, social interactions, and other contextual factors that influence communication dynamics.
  2. Lack of Generalizability: Critics suggest that the two-step flow model may not apply to all communication contexts or cultures. The model was primarily based on research conducted in the United States and may not account for cultural variations in communication patterns and social influence.
  3. Changing Media Landscape: The two-step flow model was developed before the advent of the internet and social media, which have significantly changed communication patterns. Critics argue that in today’s media environment, individuals have more direct access to a vast array of information sources and may bypass traditional opinion leaders. The model may not adequately capture the influence of online communities, social networks, and user-generated content.
  4. Lack of Individual Agency: The two-step flow model assumes a passive role for opinion followers, suggesting that they are passive recipients of opinions from opinion leaders. Critics argue that individuals are active agents who actively engage with and critically evaluate media messages, rather than being mere recipients of influence.
  5. Limited Focus on Media Effects: The two-step flow model primarily focuses on the role of opinion leaders and downplays the direct impact of the mass media on individuals. Critics argue that the model underestimates the direct influence of media messages on attitudes, behaviors, and public opinion.

Despite these criticisms, the two-step flow model contributed to the understanding of interpersonal communication and the role of opinion leaders in shaping attitudes and behaviors. It sparked further research and theories in the field of communication and highlighted the importance of interpersonal networks in the diffusion of information and influence.

Question . 3 What does the theory of “diffusion of innovation” presume? Describe the

characteristics of all elements (innovation, time, channel, social system) involved in diffusion./ what are innovation and what are the characteristics of an innovation./ What do you know about diffusion of innovation theory?.

The theory of Diffusion of Innovation, proposed by Everett Rogers in 1962, examines how new ideas, products, or practices spread and are adopted by individuals and communities over time. The theory presumes the following:

  1. Innovation: An innovation refers to a new idea, product, or practice that is perceived as new or different by the target audience. It can be a technological advancement, a behavior change, or an idea. Innovations can range from tangible products like smartphones to intangible concepts like sustainable practices.
  2. Time: Time is a crucial element in the diffusion process. Diffusion occurs over a period, and the rate of adoption varies across different individuals or groups. The theory recognizes that innovations take time to spread through a population, and different people adopt them at different stages.
  3. Channel: The channel represents the communication medium through which information about the innovation is transmitted. It can be mass media, interpersonal networks, social media, or any other form of communication. The choice of channel affects the speed and reach of the diffusion process.
  4. Social System: The social system encompasses the individuals, groups, organizations, and societal factors that shape the diffusion of innovation. It includes the social networks, norms, culture, and social structures within which the diffusion occurs. The characteristics and dynamics of the social system influence the adoption and acceptance of innovations.

Characteristics of the Elements Involved in Diffusion:

  1. Innovation Characteristics: The characteristics of the innovation itself influence its diffusion. Five key characteristics identified by Rogers are:
  2. Relative Advantage: The degree to which an innovation is perceived as superior to the existing alternatives.
  3. Compatibility: The extent to which the innovation is perceived as consistent with existing values, needs, and experiences of potential adopters.
  4. Complexity: The level of difficulty or complexity associated with understanding and using the innovation.
  5. Trialability: The ability to experiment or test the innovation on a small scale before fully adopting it.
  6. Observability: The degree to which the benefits or results of the innovation are visible or observable to others.
  7. Time Factors: Diffusion occurs over time and is influenced by factors such as the innovation’s rate of adoption, the time it takes for individuals to evaluate and adopt the innovation, and the point at which critical mass is reached, leading to widespread adoption.
  8. Channels of Communication: The choice of communication channels affects the speed and reach of the diffusion process. Different channels have varying levels of influence and effectiveness in disseminating information about the innovation to the target audience.
  9. Social System Characteristics: The social system in which diffusion takes place includes factors such as social norms, communication networks, cultural values, socioeconomic conditions, and institutional support. These factors can either facilitate or hinder the diffusion process by influencing the adoption decisions of individuals or groups.

By considering these elements and their characteristics, the theory of Diffusion of Innovation provides insights into how and why innovations are adopted or rejected by individuals and communities, and how the diffusion process unfolds over time.

Question . 4    What do you know about agenda-setting theory?/ what techniques are used in journalism for setting newspaper agenda./ Do mass media set audience agenda? Your answer should be based on solid theoretical basis as well as empirical evidences.  the Chapel Hill study and Charlotte study.

The Agenda-Setting Theory is a communication theory that suggests that the media has the power to influence the importance and salience of issues in the public’s mind by selecting and emphasizing certain topics. It was first introduced by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw in 1972.

The key premise of the theory is that the media, through its selection and presentation of news, can shape the public’s perception of what issues are significant and what topics deserve attention. The theory posits that the media doesn’t tell people what to think, but rather what to think about.

Techniques Used in Journalism for Setting Newspaper Agenda:

  1. Story Selection: Editors and journalists have the power to select which stories and events receive coverage in newspapers. By highlighting certain stories and downplaying others, they influence what issues are brought to the attention of the public. The placement of stories (front page, headline news, etc.) can also contribute to their perceived importance.
  2. Framing: Framing refers to how journalists present and contextualize news stories. The choice of words, images, headlines, and the overall narrative structure can shape the public’s understanding and interpretation of an issue. Different frames can emphasize different aspects of an issue and influence its perceived significance.
  3. Priming: Priming involves the media giving prominence to certain issues or topics, which can influence the public’s evaluations and judgments. By repeatedly covering specific issues, the media can prime the audience to prioritize and consider those issues more when forming opinions and making decisions.
  4. Agenda Melding: Agenda melding refers to the process in which news organizations combine their own agenda with the agenda of external sources, such as public officials, interest groups, or influential individuals. This can happen through press releases, interviews, or giving voice to specific perspectives. It helps shape the news agenda by incorporating external influences into news reporting.
  5. Gatekeeping: Gatekeeping refers to the role of editors and journalists as gatekeepers who decide what information gets published and what is left out. They make choices about what news stories are deemed newsworthy and worthy of public attention. These gatekeepers have the power to shape the newspaper agenda by selecting and prioritizing certain stories over others.
  6. Editorial Bias: Editorial bias can influence the newspaper agenda by reflecting the political or ideological leanings of the publication. The editorial stance, opinion pieces, and editorial endorsements can highlight specific issues or positions, shaping the public’s perception of what matters.

It’s important to note that while the media has the power to set the agenda and influence public attention, individuals also play an active role in interpreting and filtering the information they receive. Agenda-setting theory focuses on the media’s influence on what people think about, but it does not dictate how people think about those issues

Question . 5 What do you know about knowledge-gape theory?

The Knowledge-Gap Theory, also known as the Knowledge-Gap Hypothesis, is a theory in mass communication that examines how information and knowledge gaps emerge and widen among individuals based on their access to and consumption of media content. It suggests that as new information is introduced through the media, those with higher socioeconomic status (SES) tend to acquire and benefit from it more than those with lower SES, thereby widening the knowledge gap between the two groups.

The theory proposes the following key ideas:

  1. Existing Knowledge and Information: The theory assumes that individuals possess different levels of pre-existing knowledge or information about a particular topic. This knowledge gap can arise due to differences in education, socioeconomic status, prior exposure to information, or other factors.
  2. Media Exposure: The theory suggests that media play a significant role in disseminating information and knowledge to the public. However, individuals with higher SES tend to have greater access to and utilization of media sources such as newspapers, television, and the internet compared to those with lower SES.
  3. Knowledge Acquisition: According to the theory, individuals with higher SES are more likely to acquire new knowledge through media exposure. They have greater resources, educational background, and information-seeking behaviors that enable them to interpret and comprehend media messages effectively. In contrast, individuals with lower SES may have limited access to media, fewer information-seeking behaviors, and potentially less comprehension of media content.
  4. Knowledge Gap Widening: The theory suggests that over time, as individuals with higher SES continually acquire new knowledge through media exposure, the knowledge gap between them and individuals with lower SES widens. This is due to the cumulative advantage that those with higher SES possess in terms of access to information and media consumption.

The Knowledge-Gap Theory has significant implications for understanding the role of media in shaping societal knowledge and information inequalities. It suggests that despite the potential of media to disseminate information broadly, unequal access and utilization of media resources can contribute to knowledge disparities among different socioeconomic groups.

It is important to note that the Knowledge-Gap Theory has also faced criticisms. Some argue that the theory oversimplifies the complex factors contributing to knowledge gaps and does not sufficiently account for the diverse ways in which individuals acquire and process information. Nevertheless, the theory offers valuable insights into the relationship between media, knowledge acquisition, and social inequalities, highlighting the importance of addressing information disparities to promote a more informed and equitable society.

Question .6           Why scholars rejected the hypodermic needle model theory, and which

theory they offered as an alternative to the hypodermic needle model theory? Compare the two theories in terms of media effects and audience autonomy.                                                                              

The Hypodermic Needle Model, also known as the Magic Bullet Theory or the Transmission Model, was a communication theory popular in the early 20th century. It posited that the media had a powerful and direct influence on audiences, much like a hypodermic needle injecting messages into passive receivers who would uncritically accept and adopt those messages.

Scholars began to reject the Hypodermic Needle Model for several reasons:

  1. Lack of Empirical Evidence: Researchers found little empirical evidence to support the idea that media messages have an immediate and uniform effect on individuals. The model failed to consider the complexity of human behavior and the role of individual differences, social contexts, and selective exposure and interpretation of media messages.
  2. Limited Understanding of Audience Agency: The Hypodermic Needle Model portrayed audiences as passive recipients of media messages, devoid of agency and critical thinking. However, subsequent research revealed that audiences actively engage with media content, interpreting messages based on their own beliefs, values, and experiences.
  3. Overemphasis on Immediate and Direct Effects: The model assumed that media messages have immediate and direct effects on attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs, disregarding the influence of other interpersonal and societal factors. Scholars argued that the influence of media is often indirect and complex, mediated by personal relationships, social interactions, and cultural contexts.

As an alternative to the Hypodermic Needle Model, scholars proposed the Limited Effects Theory. This theory suggests that media messages have more nuanced and limited effects on individuals. It recognizes the role of individual characteristics, social relationships, and contextual factors in shaping the impact of media. Some prominent limited effects theories include:

  1. Two-Step Flow Theory: The Two-Step Flow Theory posits that individuals are more influenced by interpersonal opinion leaders who filter and interpret media messages before disseminating them to others. It highlights the importance of interpersonal communication in shaping attitudes and behaviors.
  2. Agenda-Setting Theory: The Agenda-Setting Theory suggests that media influence the importance and salience of issues in the public’s mind by selecting and emphasizing certain topics. Instead of directly changing opinions, the media influence what people think about and what topics they consider important.
  3. Uses and Gratifications Theory: The Uses and Gratifications Theory emphasizes that individuals actively seek out media content to fulfill specific needs and gratifications. It focuses on the audience’s motivations for media use and how they selectively choose media messages that align with their needs and interests.

These alternative theories recognized the complexity of media effects, the active role of the audience, and the influence of interpersonal and societal factors. They provided a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between media and individuals, moving away from the simplistic and deterministic assumptions of the Hypodermic Needle Model.

Question .7 What is meant by “media hegemony” and “media determination”? / Media are considered as “agent of power” by some scholars. What do these scholars consider media as agent of power? Do you think Pakistani mass media are agents of power?/ What is chain ownership? Do you think chain ownership influence media content?/ What do you know about chain and cross ownership in mass media? What are the major national media chains in Pakistan?   

“Media hegemony” and “media determination” are concepts that describe different perspectives on the relationship between media and power structures in society.

  1. Media Hegemony: Media hegemony refers to the dominance and control exerted by certain powerful groups or institutions over the production, distribution, and interpretation of media content. It is a concept rooted in the work of Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci. Hegemony refers to the ability of a dominant group to maintain its power and influence by shaping and controlling the dominant ideas, values, and beliefs in society.

In the context of media, hegemony suggests that the media, often controlled by powerful corporations or political elites, play a significant role in shaping public opinion and maintaining the existing social, economic, and political order. Through the control of media institutions, these dominant groups can influence the selection of news, agenda-setting processes, framing of issues, and the overall narrative presented to the public. By controlling the flow of information and shaping public discourse, they maintain their power and privilege while marginalizing alternative viewpoints or dissenting voices.

  • Media Determination: Media determination, also known as technological determinism or media determinism, is a perspective that emphasizes the influence and impact of media technologies on shaping society and individual behavior. It suggests that the development and introduction of new media technologies have the power to shape and determine social, cultural, and economic systems.

According to media determination, technological advancements in media, such as the printing press, radio, television, or the internet, have transformative effects on society, altering communication patterns, social interactions, and even economic structures. Media technologies are seen as independent forces that shape and determine human behavior and social systems. This perspective downplays the agency of individuals or social actors in shaping the impact of media and emphasizes the deterministic power of technology.

While media hegemony focuses on power relations and control over media content, media determination focuses on the transformative influence of media technologies on society. These concepts offer different lenses through which we can understand the relationship between media and power structures, highlighting the role of dominant groups and institutions in shaping media narratives, as well as the influence of media technologies in shaping societal structures and behaviors.

Question .8 Discuss media effects paly the role powerful media effects and limited effects

perspectives. / Discuss the functions of mass media? / What role mass media can paly in

socio-cultural integration? Do you think Pakistani mass media play the role of socio-cultural integration?   

The study of media effects examines the influence of media on individuals, society, and culture. Two contrasting perspectives on media effects are the Powerful Media Effects perspective and the Limited Effects perspective.

  1. Powerful Media Effects Perspective: The Powerful Media Effects perspective posits that media have a direct and powerful impact on individuals, shaping their attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs. This perspective suggests that media messages are persuasive and can directly influence the thoughts and actions of the audience. It often assumes a passive audience that is vulnerable to media influence.

According to this perspective, media effects can include:

  • Agenda Setting: The media has the power to influence what issues or topics are considered important in society.
  • Cultivation: Prolonged exposure to media content can shape individuals’ perception of social reality and influence their beliefs and attitudes.
  • Social Learning: Media can serve as a source of information and role models, influencing individuals’ behavior and values.
  • Framing: The media can influence how events or issues are framed, shaping public perceptions and interpretations.

The Powerful Media Effects perspective has its roots in early communication theories, such as the Hypodermic Needle Model, which posited a direct and uniform impact of media on individuals. However, this perspective has faced criticism for oversimplifying the complex processes of media influence and neglecting the active role of the audience.

  • Limited Effects Perspective: The Limited Effects perspective challenges the notion of media’s all-encompassing power and emphasizes the limited and contingent effects of media on individuals. It suggests that media influence is mediated by various individual, social, and contextual factors, and the effects are not uniform across the entire audience.

Key ideas within the Limited Effects perspective include:

  • Selective Exposure: Individuals actively choose media content that aligns with their existing beliefs and values, filtering out conflicting information.
  • Opinion Leadership: Individuals are more influenced by interpersonal sources, such as family, friends, and opinion leaders, than by the media itself.
  • Mediated Influence: Media effects are indirect and operate through complex processes involving personal interpretations, social interactions, and cultural contexts.
  • Two-Step Flow: Information and influence flow from the media to opinion leaders, who then disseminate it to others.

The Limited Effects perspective acknowledges the role of individual agency, social relationships, and contextual factors in shaping media effects. It highlights the complexity of media influence and recognizes that media messages are not always persuasive or impactful for everyone.

Both perspectives contribute to our understanding of media effects. The Powerful Media Effects perspective highlights the potential influence and societal implications of media, while the Limited Effects perspective underscores the complexity and variability of media effects, emphasizing the role of individual differences and social interactions. Contemporary research often takes an integrated approach, considering both perspectives and exploring the conditions under which media effects are more likely to occur.

Question .9 What do you know about chain and cross ownership in mass media? What are the major national media chains in Pakistan?

Chain and cross ownership in mass media? What are the major national media chains in Pakistan?

Chain and cross ownership in mass media refer to the concentration of ownership and control of multiple media outlets by a single entity or a network of related entities. It occurs when one company or individual owns or controls multiple media properties, such as newspapers, television stations, radio stations, and online platforms.

Chain ownership typically refers to the ownership of multiple media outlets within the same medium, such as owning multiple newspapers or television stations. Cross ownership, on the other hand, involves ownership of media outlets across different mediums, such as owning newspapers and television stations simultaneously.

In the context of Pakistan, there are several major national media chains:

  1. Jang Group: The Jang Group is one of the largest media chains in Pakistan, owning various print publications, including the Daily Jang, The News International, and Mag Weekly, as well as television channels, such as Geo News, Geo Entertainment, and Geo Super.
  2. Dawn Group: The Dawn Group owns the Dawn newspaper, one of the oldest and most widely circulated English-language newspapers in Pakistan. They also have a digital presence and operate Dawn News, a 24-hour news channel.
  3. Express Media Group: The Express Media Group owns the Daily Express newspaper, as well as Express News, a 24-hour news channel. They also have digital platforms and radio stations.
  4. ARY Group: The ARY Group owns the ARY News television channel, which is a popular news and entertainment channel in Pakistan. They also have other media properties, including ARY Digital, ARY Musik, and ARY Zindagi.
  5. Hum Network Limited: The Hum Network Limited operates Hum TV, a leading entertainment channel in Pakistan, along with other channels like Hum News and Hum Sitaray.

These are just a few examples of major media chains in Pakistan. It’s worth noting that media ownership in any country is dynamic, and there may be changes or developments in ownership structures over time.

Question . 10 What is meant by normative theory? Discuss social responsibility theory of the press. Do you think Pakistani mass media are following the social responsibility theory?/ Discuss normative theories of the press.

Normative theories of the press are theories that provide guidelines and principles for how the media should operate in society. These theories focus on ethical considerations, media roles, and responsibilities, and often serve as a basis for evaluating media practices and policies. Here are four major normative theories of the press:

  1. Authoritarian Theory: The authoritarian theory asserts that the media should be controlled and regulated by the government or a centralized authority. It suggests that the media should serve as a tool to promote the interests and agenda of those in power. This theory limits media freedom and places a strong emphasis on censorship and control.
  2. Libertarian Theory: The libertarian theory emphasizes the freedom of the press as a fundamental right. It argues for minimal government intervention and supports unrestricted media freedom. According to this theory, the media should act as a watchdog, providing a platform for diverse voices and facilitating the free flow of information and ideas.
  3. Social Responsibility Theory: The social responsibility theory acknowledges the importance of media freedom but also emphasizes the media’s responsibility to society. It suggests that the media should serve the public interest by providing accurate and reliable information, representing diverse perspectives, and acting as a forum for democratic discourse. This theory promotes media accountability, professionalism, and ethical journalism practices.
  4. Development Theory: The development theory focuses on the role of media in promoting social and economic development. It suggests that the media should actively contribute to nation-building, education, and social progress. This theory often aligns media objectives with broader societal goals and emphasizes media’s responsibility in fostering social change and development.

These normative theories offer different perspectives on the role and responsibilities of the media. They provide frameworks for understanding the ethical considerations, social functions, and societal impact of media organizations. It’s important to note that these theories are not mutually exclusive, and in practice, media systems may embody elements from multiple theories. The study and application of normative theories help shape media policies, professional standards, and public discussions about the role and influence of the media in society.

Normative theory in the field of mass communication refers to theories that focus on how the media should operate in society and what their role and responsibilities should be. These theories offer normative guidelines and principles for ethical and responsible media practices. They often aim to address issues of media accountability, freedom, and the relationship between the media and the public.

One prominent normative theory is the Social Responsibility Theory of the Press, which was proposed by the Commission on Freedom of the Press in the United States in 1947. The theory suggests that while the media should enjoy freedom of the press, they also have social responsibilities to fulfill. It emphasizes the need for media organizations to act in the public interest and serve as a watchdog for the betterment of society.

The key principles of the Social Responsibility Theory of the Press include:

  1. Media Responsibility: The theory asserts that the media have a responsibility to provide accurate, balanced, and comprehensive information to the public. Media organizations should strive for truthfulness, fairness, and integrity in their reporting.
  2. Media Accountability: The theory highlights the importance of media accountability to ensure that media organizations are held responsible for their actions and decisions. This includes accepting criticism and responding to public concerns.
  3. Media Diversity: The theory promotes the idea that media should represent diverse perspectives and voices in society. It emphasizes the need for a plurality of opinions and viewpoints to ensure a well-informed public.
  4. Public Service: The theory asserts that the media should serve the public interest by providing information, analysis, and a platform for public debate and discussion. Media organizations should act as a forum for democratic discourse and facilitate the exchange of ideas.

The Social Responsibility Theory of the Press recognizes the importance of media freedom but also emphasizes the media’s responsibility to society. It aims to strike a balance between media autonomy and accountability, with the goal of promoting an informed and engaged public.

It’s important to note that the theory has faced criticism and debate over its implementation and practicality. Critics argue that defining the boundaries of social responsibility and determining what is in the public interest can be subjective and potentially open to manipulation. Nevertheless, the theory has played a significant role in shaping discussions about media ethics and responsibility, providing a normative framework for media professionals and organizations to consider in their practices.

     Question . 11 Discuss the spiral of silence theory.                                 

The Spiral of Silence Theory, proposed by German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, explains how individuals are influenced by the perception of majority opinion and how this perception affects their willingness to express their own opinions. The theory suggests that people have a natural fear of social isolation, which leads them to remain silent or conform to dominant opinions to avoid potential isolation.

Key concepts of the Spiral of Silence Theory:

  1. Public Opinion Climate: The theory suggests that individuals constantly monitor the public opinion climate, which refers to the perceived dominant opinion on a particular issue within society. People tend to assess the prevailing opinion through cues such as media coverage, interpersonal discussions, and social norms.
  2. Fear of Isolation: The theory posits that individuals have a fear of social isolation, which leads them to conform to the perceived majority opinion. This fear stems from the belief that expressing a minority opinion may result in negative consequences, such as social exclusion, ridicule, or backlash.
  3. Spiral of Silence: The spiral of silence refers to the self-reinforcing process in which the dominant opinion becomes more pronounced, while minority opinions are suppressed or silenced. As individuals perceive the majority opinion, they are more likely to express agreement, while those holding minority views are less inclined to voice their opinions, further reinforcing the perception of majority opinion.
  4. Quasi-Statistical Organizational Model: Noelle-Neumann proposed a quasi-statistical organizational model to explain how individuals assess the prevailing opinion climate. According to this model, individuals constantly calculate the social environment and make judgments about the distribution of opinions to determine whether their own views are in line with the majority or minority.

The Spiral of Silence Theory has been applied to various contexts, including political discussions, public opinion formation, and media influence. It suggests that the dominant opinion portrayed by the media and prevailing social norms can shape public discourse and influence individual willingness to speak out or remain silent.

It is important to note that the theory has received criticism for oversimplifying the complexity of opinion formation and neglecting the role of other factors such as personal values, individual agency, and the influence of alternative communication channels. Nevertheless, the theory offers valuable insights into the dynamics of public opinion and the social pressures that shape individual behavior in expressing opinions.

Question . 12 What are those conditions which scholars consider as the basic requirements for media effectiveness?

Scholars often consider several conditions as the basic requirements for media effectiveness. While the specific conditions may vary depending on the context and research perspective, here are some common factors that are considered important for media effectiveness:

  1. Accessibility: Media must be accessible to the target audience. This includes factors such as availability, affordability, and ease of use. If the media content is not easily accessible, its effectiveness may be limited.
  2. Attention and Engagement: Media must capture and maintain the attention of the audience. The content should be engaging, interesting, and relevant to the audience’s needs and interests. Without capturing attention, the message may not be effectively communicated.
  3. Clarity and Simplicity: Media messages should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. Complex or ambiguous messages may lead to confusion or misinterpretation, reducing the effectiveness of communication.
  4. Credibility and Trustworthiness: Media must be perceived as credible and trustworthy by the audience. This includes factors such as accurate information, reliable sources, and transparent presentation. Without credibility, the audience may be skeptical or dismissive of the media message.
  5. Relevance and Personalization: Media content should be relevant and personalized to the audience’s context and needs. Tailoring the message to the specific audience increases the likelihood of engagement and impact.
  6. Emotional Appeal: Media that evokes emotions can be more effective in capturing attention and influencing attitudes and behaviors. Emotional appeals can create a stronger connection with the audience and increase the persuasive impact of the message.
  7. Audience Involvement: Media effectiveness can be enhanced when the audience is actively involved in the communication process. Interactive media, such as social media platforms or participatory formats, can facilitate audience engagement and participation.
  8. Social and Cultural Context: Media messages should consider the social and cultural context of the audience. Understanding the cultural norms, values, and beliefs of the audience can help tailor the message to resonate with their worldview and increase effectiveness.

It’s important to note that media effectiveness is influenced by various factors, and different communication goals may require different conditions for effectiveness. Researchers and practitioners continue to explore and refine these conditions to optimize the impact of media communication.

Question .13 Explain the concept of mainstreaming, resonance and mean worl syndrome.

The concepts of mainstreaming, resonance, and the mean world syndrome are all related to the influence of media on individuals’ perceptions and attitudes. Let’s explore each concept:

  1. Mainstreaming: Mainstreaming refers to the process by which repeated exposure to certain media messages and themes leads individuals to develop a shared understanding of reality. It occurs when media content consistently presents and reinforces particular values, ideas, and perspectives, thereby shaping the collective consciousness of a society. Mainstreaming can homogenize people’s attitudes and beliefs, creating a dominant cultural narrative that influences public opinion.

For example, if the media consistently portrays certain social or political issues in a particular way, such as emphasizing the importance of personal security, individuals exposed to this repeated messaging may start to adopt similar attitudes and behaviors regarding the issue.

  • Resonance: Resonance occurs when media messages align with individuals’ preexisting beliefs, experiences, or fears. When media content resonates with the audience’s personal experiences or reinforces their existing worldview, it can have a more significant impact on their attitudes and perceptions. Resonance intensifies the influence of media messages by reinforcing and validating individuals’ preexisting beliefs or concerns.

For instance, if a news report highlights a specific social issue that directly affects a person’s community and confirms their own observations or experiences, it is likely to resonate strongly with them, reinforcing their beliefs and potentially motivating them to take action.

  • Mean World Syndrome: The mean world syndrome refers to a phenomenon in which individuals exposed to a significant amount of media violence develop an exaggerated perception of violence in society. It suggests that prolonged exposure to violent media content can lead individuals to perceive the world as a more dangerous and hostile place than it actually is.

When people consistently consume media content portraying violence, such as crime dramas or news reports focusing on violent incidents, they may develop a distorted view of reality. They may become more fearful, distrustful, and believe that violent incidents are more prevalent than they actually are.

The mean world syndrome was popularized by the cultivation theory, which posits that prolonged exposure to media content shapes individuals’ perceptions of the social world.

These concepts highlight the influential role of media in shaping individuals’ perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs. By understanding how mainstreaming, resonance, and the mean world syndrome operate, researchers and media practitioners can critically analyze the potential effects of media messages and work towards creating more informed and responsible media content.

3 thoughts on “AIOU Course Theories of  Mass Communication- II  (5636)”

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