A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies

By Klaus Bruhn Jensen | Go to book overview

9

Media effects

Quantitative traditions

Klaus Bruhn Jensen
• a brief history of research on media effects
• a review of the main traditions of audience research, focusing on different stages of the process of mediated communication
• a presentation of additional studies on how media serve to socialize individuals and to institutionalize society
• an example of the study of lifestyles as they relate to media use.

If any one issue can be said to have motivated media studies, it is the question of ‘effects.’

From the perspective of policy-makers and the general public, the field has been expected to supply evidence of what the media may do to people and to society. From within the academic perspective, the field has justified itself by examining what specific difference the modern media make, compared to other cultural forms and social institutions. The question of effects has largely been stated in terms of the relatively short-term cognitive and behavioral impacts of different media and their contents on mass audiences, which have been studied by quantitative social-scientific methodologies. Especially in this area, it is still appropriate to speak of a

dominant paradigm or model (Gitlin 1978; Webster and Phalen 1997), even if the quantitative mainstream is quite differentiated and currently in dialogue with a qualitative substream (Chapter 10).

‘effects’ - traditionally defined as cognitive and behavioral impacts on individuals in the short term

the dominant paradigm

This chapter reviews the main varieties of audience studies with reference to their foci on particular stages of the communicative process. While contemporary research commonly distanciates itself from a chain-like model of the process, it is the case that each tradition is defined, in part, by its orientation toward a particular moment of the interchange between media and audiences, whether in the short or the long term. In addition to being an intuitively helpful configuration of the empirical field, this implicit model holds the potential both for specifying the scope of each tradition, and for indicating areas of contact between them. To anticipate one argument of the chapter, each tradition may be said to identify a social ‘context’ of interaction between media and audiences. For example, an ‘early’ context of interaction is examined in terms of national and international television ratings and other measures of media exposure; a ‘late’ context has been studied with reference to the question of whether media contribute over time to closing or deepening so-called knowledge gaps in society (Tichenor et al. 1970). In each of these two examples, an interchange occurs between audience and medium which has implications for audience members’ actions in other social contexts: the act of television viewing is

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A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Part I - History 13
  • 2 - The Humanities in Media and Communication Research 15
  • 3 - Media, Culture and Modern Times 40
  • Part II - Systematics 59
  • 4 - The Production of Media Fiction 62
  • 5 - The Production of News 78
  • 6 - The Study of International News 91
  • 7 - Discourses of Fact 98
  • 8 - Mediated Fiction 117
  • 9 - Media Effects 138
  • 10 - Media Reception 156
  • 11 - Contexts, Cultures, and Computers 171
  • 12 - History, Media and Communication 191
  • Part III - Practice 207
  • 13 - The Quantitative Research Process 209
  • 14 - The Qualitative Research Process 235
  • 15 - The Complementarity of Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies in Media and Communication Research 254
  • 16 - The Social Origins and Uses of Media and Communication Research 273
  • References 294
  • Index 326
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