Seminal scholar George Gerbner introduced cultivation theory in the 1960s as a means of examining the long-term, cumulative implications of growing up with and being immersed in the messages conveyed on television. The theory is still very much active today, and has inspired hundreds of studies examining its central premises and corollaries in many different contexts. The theory’s Cultural Indicators Project is an umbrella term that calls for analysis at three interrelated levels: media institutions and why and how they function as they do (institutional process analysis), television content and the themes that appear in programming regardless of program type or time of day (message system analysis), and individuals’ perceptions of the social world and the attendant behaviors they engage in as a result of those perceptions (cultivation). Important concepts of the theory include the “mean world syndrome,” which describes the consequences of cumulative exposure to violence on television, and “mainstreaming,” which entails the ability of the television influence to overcome differences in perceptions typically attributed to individuals’ backgrounds.
Article. 4847 words.
Subjects: Communication Studies
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