Theory and Research in Mass Communication: Contexts and Consequences

By David K. Perry | Go to book overview

11
Conclusion

This chapter focuses on the potential future of the field in light of contemporary social concerns. Prior to this, it discusses the possibility that in focusing on specific media contents, such as TV violence, researchers have missed the most significant effects.


TV AND ONE's SENSE OF PLACE

Meyrowitz (1985,1986) argued that TV caused much of the social change in the United States since the 1950s, such as the massive movement of women into the labor force. Building on the ideas of scholars such as Marshall McLuhan, Meyrowitz's contextualist theory in some way resembles the mainstreaming idea from cultivation theory (see chap. 9). He maintained that TV has reduced the traditional separations of people into different experiential worlds. Such separation

fostered different world views, allowed for sharp distinctions between people's “onstage” and “backstage” behaviors, and permitted people to play complementary—rather than reciprocal roles. Such distinctions in situations were supported by the diffusion of literacy and printed materials, which tended to divide people into very different informational worlds based on different levels of reading skill and on training and interest in different “literatures. ” These distinctions were also supported by the isolation of different people in different places, which led to different social identities based on the specific and limited experiences available in given locations. By bringing many different types of people to the same “place, ” electronic me-

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