Media Effects and Society

Media Effects and Society

Media Effects and Society

Media Effects and Society

Synopsis

Media Effects and Society provides an in-depth look at media effects and offers a theoretical foundation for understanding mass media's impact on individuals and society. Working from the assumption that media effects are common and are underestimated, author Elizabeth M. Perse identifies dominant areas of media effects and provides a synthesis of those areas of research. She focuses on the theoretical explanations for media effects, offering explanations of how media effects occur so readers can understand how to mitigate harmful effects and enhance positive ones. This text provides comprehensive coverage of the range of media effects, including news diffusion, learning from the mass media, socialization of children and adolescents, influences on public opinion and voting, and violent and sexually explicit media content. It also presents a variety of theoretical approaches to understanding media effects, including psychological and content-based theories. In addition, it demonstrates how theories can guide future research into the effects of newer mass communication technologies. Written for those who study and conduct research in media effects, Media Effects and Society presents a thorough and accessible discussion of media effects theory. As such, it is appropriate for advanced courses on media effects, media theory, and media and society.

Excerpt

It seems that many students enter the study of mass communication with interests in producing media content. Some are intrigued with technology and equipment. Others enjoy the sense of accomplishment and recognition that comes with knowing that messages they have created are being watched, read, and heard by audiences. Still others relish the sense of power that accompanies producing messages designed to persuade. This enthusiasm for media production, however, is not usually accompanied by an appreciation for theories of message effectiveness. The study of media effects, though, is the study of media effectiveness. In the years that I have been teaching media effects, I've watched students enter my course with a sense of distrust for “theories. ” But, after a short while, they begin to understand how theories can be tools in understanding the power of mass communication. The study of media effects is the study of how to control, enhance, or mitigate the impact of the mass media on individuals and society.

This book is the result of my years of teaching about media effects. It is based on the assumption that the mass media do have effects. Most communication scholars would be reluctant to argue that mass media are the sole or most substantial change agent in society, but it is clear that mass communication is an agent or catalyst to a variety of shifts and changes in people and institutions. It is certainly true that there was violence in society long before there was mass communication, but that does not mean that new media forms and content cannot serve as stimuli to violence. Certainly children were socialized before the development of television, but that does not mean that children's educational media cannot increase children's knowledge about the world.

The most commonly studied areas of media effects are well known, but it would be impossible to identify all the potential media effects. So, the goal of this text is not to identify the domain of the study of media ef-

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