1. Broadly, any coherent framework of ideas and concepts for analysing or generating investigable hypotheses about mediated communication, including media comparisons and theories of influence and use. Such theories may be further distinguished as sociological (see media sociology), psychological (see media psychology), semiotic, phenomenological, psychoanalytic, Marxist, feminist, postcolonial, formalist, structuralist, functionalist, and so on (see also active audience theory; agenda-setting; cognitive film theory; communication theory; cultivation theory; dependency theory; disinhibition theory; film theory; reception theory; uses and gratifications theory). Common-sense notions are sometimes loosely dignified by the term (as in magic bullet ‘theory’); approaches seen as inadequately supported by evidence may be dismissed as grand theory (see McLuhanism). Critical media theory is associated with the Frankfurt school: see also critical theory.
2. Less generically, a synonym for medium theory.
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