A metaphor for the primary function of the mass media as the representation or celebration of shared understandings, values, and beliefs. It is based on a conceptualization of communication by the American communication theorist James Carey (1935–2006). Such communication is seen as drawing upon a common pool of cultural imagery, symbolism, and codes, bringing together those for whom these are familiar features of their cultural identity. Audiences are in this sense participants rather than receivers or spectators. It is seen as expressive communication for the pleasures of performance rather than as instrumental or informational communication, although it has the unifying social function of maintaining society over time (see imagined community). See also integration; socialization function; compare publicity model; reception model; transmission models.
Subjects: Media Studies.