Article

Mass Communication

Hans-Bernd Brosius and Veronika Karnowski

in Communication

ISBN: 9780199756841
Published online February 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0022
Mass Communication

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Mass communication can be best described by its counterparts. With regard to the number of people involved, mass communication has many participants, whereas interpersonal communication has few. With regard to visibility, mass communication is highly visible and public; private communication is hidden from others. Mass-communication messages are mostly provided by media professionals who collect, process, structure, and distribute information. It is a one-to-many communication with little feedback possibilities. In mass societies, mass communication is probably the most effective way of finding, discussing, and resolving issues that are relevant for the existence of a given society. Accordingly, research in mass communication is mainly concerned with its effects. Scholars have developed many theories—such as agenda setting—that are focusing on the beneficial and detrimental effects of the mass media. Many other topics are indirectly related to the effects of mass communication, such as freedom of the press, journalism, or media systems, but also entertainment. The internet and its diverse communication modes serve as a challenge to this role of mass communication. Mass communication is often framed within a normative point of view: Mass media, particularly radio, television, and other instances of audiovisual communication, enable a mass society to exchange views effectively on important problems and issues, thus helping democracies to come to the right decisions. In terms of usage, however, audiovisual mass media mostly carry entertainment content. Entertainment, however, might not be without political and societal consequences (e.g., cultivation theory). Although mass-communication content includes many genres and modalities and appears across all media, this entry focuses more on processes and intellectual arcs that transcend any single type of content.

Article.  6296 words. 

Subjects: Communication Studies

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