normative theory

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(social science) Ways of framing a social phenomenon (such as communication or the mass media) based on norms: such as assumptions, expectations, or prescriptions concerning functions it ought (or ought not) to fulfil (see also communicative functions; media functions). In relation to the mass media, for instance, they include different ideological paradigms concerning the relation of the media to the state, as in the traditional Western liberal pluralist notion of the free press (see also market model; regulation). They are also implicit in popular attitudes to media use, as in widespread notions (and guilty feelings) that ‘too much’ TV or ‘overuse’ of the internet is anti-social, and they underlie notions of what is publicly acceptable in media content. In relation to language, normative theories seek to prescribe ‘correct’ usage, or define language in terms of norm and deviation (as in literal versus figurative language).

Subjects: Media Studies — Sociology.

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