Assessment Of Debates On Media Effects

3122 words - 12 pages

Assessment of Debates on Media Effects

A long history lies behind question about how communication affects or
influences people. Greeks developed sophisticated hypothesis about how
to impress listeners through the spoken word and Aristotle was
concerned with theorizing the art of speaking. Even nowadays in
face-to-face conversations each of us mobilizes theories about how to
influence our listeners. For instance, we wish to make others
understand how we feel or what we think. Today, mass communication
studies have developed as a discipline with a focus on television and
newspapers and, to a lesser extent, cinema and radio. Thanks to mass
communication technologies a programme can now be viewed globally, so
that questions about effects have thus become more complex.

The origin of modern media studies is usually located in 1930s Germany
associated with work by scholars such as Adorno, Marcuse and
Horkheimer. Their theories were developed in response to Germany’s
descent into fascism. This work, collectively known as ‘The Frankfurt
School’, theorized that social disintegration left people vulnerable
to propaganda. This School promoted a ‘hypodermic model’ of media
effects whereby messages were directly absorbed into the minds of the
people. Many other theories and approaches to the media have developed
since then; but nowadays, as we will see, this model is discredited.

More recently studies have revealed the diverse ways in which
different people may respond to the same programme. Theses researchers
highlight the fact that the messages ‘decoded’ by audiences are not
necessarily those intended by the programme producers. How we respond
to a particular programme or newspaper article can be influenced by
class, gender, sexual and ethnic identity as well as cultural context.
The trajectory of media and cultural studies during the last fifty
years insisted that we recognize audience diversity and see people as
‘active’ rather that passive consumers of media images.

After this brave introduction about media effects history, we will
explain in detail which are these effects and if they are effective or
not. We will consider some categories that represent strong public
concerns such us media violence (both, fiction and reality
portrayals), television influence on children, effects of pornographic
images and the persuasiveness of media messages and information
campaigns.

American society is often reported to be one of the most violent in
the world. Media violence is claimed to be a major contributing cause
to real violence. It could be argued instead that the causes of
violence in American life are multiple: racism, poverty, drug abuse,
abusive family relationships, gangs, guns, mental illness...
Therefore, there is no evidence that media violence is the only
contributory...

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