The Mass Media in Liberal Democratic Societies

The Mass Media in Liberal Democratic Societies

The Mass Media in Liberal Democratic Societies

The Mass Media in Liberal Democratic Societies


"Advances in communication technology, especially global television, are rapidly promoting global awareness. This point was driven home with Tiananmen Square, the demise of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War, and the collapse of communism in the USSR. While a great impact has been made by the media on the modern world, its effect, and its responsibilities are vaguely understood and widely debated. This book provides a general introduction to the role of mass media, including news media, television, and motion pictures, in liberal democratic societies. It follows the rise of mass media in liberal democracies from the freedom of the press enshrined in the United States constitution to recent dramatic events shown world wide in television and motion pictures. What effects does the media have on children raised in the age of television? How has television affected the commitment to religion, labor parties, political parties, and other traditional influences on one's life? Does the media shape public opinion or reflect it?" "This book draws on studies primarily from the United States, but includes Germany and Israel, to explain to the college student and interested general reader what the issues are. The book discusses, with careful documentation, media reporting on specific issues, such as Nicaragua, the environment, nuclear energy, and intelligence testing. It then discusses the social and political assumptions evident in the media. Chapter nine contains the most detailed study ever completed on the changing content of prime time television drama from 1950 to the present. One important conclusion of the research presented is that, in the United States, television and motion pictures, which generally supported traditional values in the 1950's, have, since the 1970's, often reversed their positions on sexuality, religion, business, and politics. The concluding chapter by W. Phillips Davison, a founder of mass communication studies, makes some predictions about the impact of mass media in the United States and has wise reflections that should stimulate serious rethinking about the problems of mass media in liberal democratic societies." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Liberal democratic societies, as patterns of political, economic and social arrangements, would seem to be vindicated against their detractors. Until recently Marxism in its various forms and other proponents of single party states and centrally planned economies appeared to offer realistic and allegedly beneficial alternatives to liberal democracy. Events in China, the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and the Third World have so reduced the persuasiveness of these arguments that there are no readily apparent alternatives to liberal democratic societies.

Nevertheless, the discomfitures and embarrassments of single party states should not be regarded as a justification for complacency. We should be appreciative of the merits of liberal demoncratic societies, but we should be aware of their shortcomings, in light of their own ideals, and of the dangers to which they are liable.

The purpose of the present series of books is to take stock of and to assess, in an historical perspective, the most central achievements and shortcomings of liberal democratic societies, and to encourage thought on their maintenance and improvement.

Not only do we seek to delineate some of these main lines of historical development of the variant forms of liberal democracy, but we also seek to discern certain fundamental postulates that are common to these institutions and processes. In this way, we hope to define more clearly the liberal democratic ideal and its limits. We wish to learn where the practice falls short of the ideal or deforms it. We wish to form an estimate of the destructive forces within the liberal democratic ideal itself and of their potentialities for causing its deteriorization or its collapse. We wish above all to learn how these destructive potentialities may be averted.

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