Theory and Research in Mass Communication: Contexts and Consequences

Theory and Research in Mass Communication: Contexts and Consequences

Theory and Research in Mass Communication: Contexts and Consequences

Theory and Research in Mass Communication: Contexts and Consequences

Synopsis

This volume argues that researchers need to connect with the broader communities in which they live, and considers the impact of media research on society. It is appropriate for advanced-level students and scholars in mass communication and media studies

Excerpt

This book is a product of the cultural, economic, political, and social environments during the early and mid-1990s in the United States, especially in higher education. Its themes cannot be understood entirely apart from those details. During those years, public universities experienced severe financial attacks from state legislatures across the United States. Seemingly, the public believed that higher education had become too expensive and wasteful, and state governments often responded by slashing budgets even more than one might expect in the midst of a serious recession and slow recovery. An often heard complaint concerned the emphasis placed on faculty research, allegedly at the expense of undergraduate teaching.

Yet, this common complaint perhaps partially masked a deeper problem. the difficulty possibly had less to do with a research emphasis than with a widespread lack of understanding, both among the public and among faculty themselves, of why and how research might contribute to society. Maybe little of the research being produced really made a difference in the everyday lives of the citizenry, in substantial part because of unnecessary boundaries between academia and the public (Avery & Eadie, 1993).

Pragmatist philosopher John Dewey devoted much of his life to trying to better society by advocating the application of human intelligence and science to the issues of his day. Today, many regard Dewey as the most important philosopher ever produced by U.S. culture. in The Public and its Problems, Dewey (1927) included his most detailed writing about the potential role of communication in society, and he discussed how the intelligentsia might better relate to the masses. in particular, Dewey was interested in undermining dualistic conceptions of both philosophy and life, such as the traditional Cartesian separation of mind and body and its derivative cleavages, for example, that between basic and applied scientific research. As sophisticated readers already will recognize, a sharp separation between research ostensibly designed to understand the world and that which is done for its practical value represents a potential form of social dynamite.

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