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Theories Of Mass Communication. Essay

3732 words - 15 pages

Theories of CommunicationThis papaer focused on the developmental stages of Communication and also summed up Communication as a complex and dynamic process leading to the evolution of meaning.The study of Communication and the mass media by experts over time has led to the formulation of many theories such as structural and functional theories, that believe that social structures are real and function in ways that can be observed objectively; cognitive and behavioral theories, that tend to focus on the individual's psychology; interactionist theories that view social life as a process of interaction; interpretive theories, that uncover the ways people actually understand their own experience; critical theories that are concerned with the conflict of interests in society and the way communication perpetuates domination of one group over another .The earliest theories were those propounded by the Western theorists Siebert, Paterson and Schramm in their book Four Theories Of the Press (1956). These were termed 'normative theories' by McQuail in the sense that they 'mainly express ideas of how the media ought to or can be expected to operate under a prevailing set of conditions and values' Each of the four original or classical theories is based on a particular political theory, or economic scenario.I) CLASSICAL THEORIESAuthoritarian TheoryAccording to this theory, the mass media though not under the direct control of the State, had to follow its bidding. Under the Authoritarian set up in Western Europe, freedom of thought was jealously guarded by a few people (ruling classes), who were concerned with the emergence of a new middle class and were worried about the effects of the printed matter on their thought process. Steps were taken to control the freedom of expression - the result was a complete dictatorial set up. The theory advocated zealous obedience to the hierarchical superior and reliance on threat and punishment to those who did not follow the censorship rules or did not respect authority. The censorship of the Press was justified on the ground that the State always took precedence over the individual's right to freedom of expression.This theory stemmed from the authoritarian philosophy of Plato (407 - 327 B.C), who thought that the State was safe only in the hands of a few wise men. Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679), a British academician, argued that the power to maintain order was sovereign and individual objections were to be ignored. Engel, a German thinker further reinforced the theory by stating that freedom came into its supreme right only under Authoritarianism.The world has been witness to authoritarian means of control over media by both dictatorial and democratic governments.Libertarianism or Free Press TheoryThis movement is based on the right of an individual, and advocates absence of restraint. The basis of this theory dates back to 17th century England when the printing pres made it possible to print several copies of a book or...

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