Study Notes on Mass Media & Society
‘Mass media and society’ is the new topic which has been incorporated into revised UGC NET syllabus for Paper 1. This definitely makes it an important topic and it is expected that one or two questions could be asked from this topic. In this post, you will learn about meaning of mass media, types of mass media, characteristics of mass media, and the influence of mass media on society. Let us discuss each topic one by one-
Meaning of Mass Communication:
Mass media is an important force in modern culture- as it yields a kind of communication that reaches a large audience at the same time. In some of the previous notes, we have already discussed the meaning of inter-personal communication (communication that involves two or more people) and how it usually takes place face-to-face. However, beyond the realm of interpersonal communication exists another type of communication called as mass communication- which addresses mass audience and involves the use of medium or channel known as mass media.
Mass communication can also be defined as a process of exchanging information through mass media to large segments of the population. This includes dissemination of messages and information widely, rapidly and unceasingly to a large, diverse and anonymous audience.
To sum up, communication meant for large groups is mass communication and the media used for communication of this kind is mass media such as television, newspaper, radio, internet, computer etc.
Based on this meaning, a question was asked in UGC NET exam as-
Question- The mode of communication that involves a single source transmitting information to a large number of receivers simultaneously, is called
- Group Communication
- Mass Communication
- Interpersonal Communication
- Intrapersonal Communication
Solution- Because there is a single source sending messages, it cannot be group communication. Therefore, mass communication is the correct answer
Types of Mass Media-
Mass media can be classified as per their nature and the kind of technology involved. These includes four categories-
- Traditional Media- This is rooted in our oral tradition and is connected to some folk art such as folklore, folkdance, folkdance, etc.
- Print Media- This was the brainchild of Johannes Guttenberg- who facilitated production of printed media. Print media includes newspapers, books, journals, periodicals, magazines etc.
- Electronic Media- The term electronic media mainly include TV, Cinema and Radio. Electronic media are an important channel of communication as radio, television and cinema can also be enjoyed by people with audio-visual disabilities and the illiterates.
- New Media – New Media became a popular term after the advent of internet and World Wide Web. New media channels include internet, computers, social networking sites, podcasts, e-magazines and journals etc.
Characteristics of Mass Media-
Some of the characteristics of mass media are:
- Mass media makes sense only when it involves large audience.
- This audience can either be homogenous or heterogeneous in character.
- Another important aspect about mass communication or mass media is that it is seen as tool for cultural reproduction.
- Mass communication takes place rapidly and seamlessly.
- Mass communication is sometimes very informative and educative.
- Mass media communication is cost effective.
- In case of mass communication, there is no privacy. Messages are shared publicly and for everyone alike.
- Mass communication is meant for immediate consumption
- It can also be said that mass communication is a one way communication. Although, audience does respond to mass communication but the response is usually delayed and invisible.
- It is a dynamic process, more specifically after the emergence of new media.
- Messages disseminated through mass communication are usually regulated by owners of information (which can be the government, media house, business groups, educational institute etc.)
The Influence of Mass Media on Society
Many political scientists, sociologists and media enthusiasts try to grapple with the idea of mass media and the relationship that exists between mass media and society. There are three main perspectives that exist to explain this relationship-
- Limited Effects Theory-
Limited effects theory argues that media has an insignificant role as people usually read and watch stuff based on their belief systems, prior experience and knowledge. This theory was tested in 1950s, the time when we had limited media options. So, a lot of people are also critical of this perspective.
- Class Dominant Theory-
This theory states that media projects the opinion and views of dominant class (usually some economic elite or political elite). As per this theory, messages that are disseminated via mass media is hugely controlled and regulated by dominant class. This happens in conjunction with the corporate mergers of media houses. In cases when ownership is restricted to corporations, media becomes more about consumerism than information. The modern advertising is the example of such influence. This makes the relationship between mass media and society a complex web of economic relationship. Media also becomes a tool for political mobilisation in the hands of power elites.
- Culturist theory-
This theory was a later development (1990s) and is a combination of the previous theories. This theory argues that the audience doesn’t play a passive role in message reproduction. In fact, people interact with media actively and create meaning as per their own cultural and social context. Thus, culturalist theorists assert - though a few elite in large corporations may exert significant control over what information media produces and distributes, personal perspective and experience play a more influential role in how the audience members interpret those messages.
While we discuss the relationship between mass media and society, it is also important to throw light on functionality aspect of mass media. Some of the functions that mass media play in society are-
- Information Dissemination- This inarguably remains one of the main functions of mass media. Mass media helps to make citizens aware about their society, polity and economy.
- Tool for socialisation- While family and school remain active agents of socialisation, mass media also acts as a tool of socialisation by disseminating messages that reinforce and reproduce social identities.
- Entertainment- A large array of mass media channels are a good source of entertainment and leisure. This includes cinema, books, social media, etc.
- Development communication- It goes without saying that mass media is also a tool for development. Development messages include dissemination of messages related to social welfare schemes, other social groups, weather, national festivals, history, etc.
- Cultural Reproduction- Mass media also produces messages that are carriers of certain culture. Cultural reproduction often results in social reproduction, or the process of transferring aspects of society (such as class) from generation to generation.
- Political Consciousness- Mass media also helps us to become democratic and informed citizens by making us aware about our constitutional rights and responsibilities.
Other Important Notes
We hope you understood all about ‘Mass media and society’ for UGC NET Exam.
Thank you, Team gradeup.