Sociology Mass Media
by
Rodney Benson, Tim Wood
  • LAST MODIFIED: 10 March 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0119

Introduction

While the “mass media” have long been an object of research, scholarly emphasis has shifted in recent decades from the first word of that term to the second. In the 1920s and 1930s, as the sociology of mass media began to assert itself as an academic subdiscipline, social scientists, media industry researchers, and other critics were concentrated most intently on aggregate, society-wide “mass” effects. In the contemporary moment, the focus has shifted to “media” as plural in every sense: as technologies, as niche circuits of cultural production and reception, and as distinctive multinational, national, or subnational institutional fields. How far this fragmentation of media goes, to what extent it is really something new, and the degree to which it also means a dispersal of power continue to be at the center of debate in sociology and related disciplines. There is also ample evidence of increases in the scale of media infrastructures along with new kinds of global connections. In other words, although the term mass has gone out of favor (for instance, one important media studies journal has changed its name from Critical Studies in Mass Communication to Critical Studies in Media Communication), some level of “mass” mediated communication—that is, communication involving connections between the one to many or the many to many—seems to be taken for granted by all researchers in this still-growing field of study. No survey of this sprawling field can be complete, but we have attempted to identify some of the major subfields as defined by researchers themselves and works exemplary of distinctive theories or methods. We include works not only in sociology, but also in political science, anthropology, economics, and all those branches of media studies that attempt to link their theorizing with systematic empirical research on media production, texts, and audiences.

Overviews and Histories

Contemporary media research draws on multiple theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. Curran 2010 and McQuail 2010 offer excellent broad overviews. Berelson 1959 and Katz, et al. 2003 present mainstream canonical views of key early works in the field. Gitlin 1978 provides an important critical reassessment of this canonical narrative, while Dorsten 2012 critiques the effacement of female scholars from accounts of the discipline’s history. Pooley 2008 synthesizes several revisionist histories of mass communications research, producing the most developed rethinking of the field to date. Couldry 2012 delivers an erudite and wide-ranging attempt to update social theories of media for the digital era.

  • Berelson, Bernard. 1959. The state of communication research. Public Opinion Quarterly 23:1–6.

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    This classic essay presents Lewin, Lasswell, Lazarsfeld, and Hovland as four “founding fathers” of communications research, a contested but canonical view of the field.

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    • Couldry, Nick. 2012. Media, society, world: Social theory and digital media practice. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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      Focuses on the transformations generated by digital technology, constructing a social theory of everyday media use. Couldry examines the ontologies, categorizations, accumulations of power, and normative frameworks in which digital media exist, placing emphasis on the importance of mediated representation in social life.

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      • Curran, James, ed. 2010. Media and society. 5th ed. New York: Bloomsbury.

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        The latest in an excellent series formerly entitled Mass Media and Society, this collection continues the tradition of past editions by offering an exemplary, far-ranging view of the field. Despite the conspicuous name change, the volume contains several essays exploring the ongoing relevance of the term mass for media studies.

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        • Dorsten, Aimee-Marie. 2012. “Thinking dirty”: Digging up three founding “matriarchs” of communication studies. Communication Theory 22.1: 25–47.

          DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2885.2011.01398.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          In a rejoinder to Berelson’s 1959 “founding fathers” historical account of communications studies, Dorsten underscores the contributions of female thinkers such as Hortense Powdermaker, Mae Huettig, and Helen MacGill Hughes to the formation of the field of mass media research.

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          • Gitlin, Todd. 1978. Media sociology: The dominant paradigm. Theory and Society 6:205–253.

            DOI: 10.1007/BF01681751Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            This landmark essay critiques the “limited-effects” model posited by Lazarsfeld and others for not taking adequate account of media’s institutional power. One finds here a compelling Gramscian-inflected argument for a conception of power that operates not through changing opinions but rather through reinforcing and naturalizing the existing order.

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            • Katz, Elihu, John Durham Peters, Tamar Liebes, and Avril Orloff, eds. 2003. Canonic texts in media research. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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              Breaking the history of mass media research into “schools” (the Columbia School, Frankfurt School, Chicago School, Toronto School, and British Cultural Studies), this book offers essays reflecting on canonical texts from each approach.

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              • McQuail, Denis. 2010. McQuail’s mass communication theory. 6th ed. London: SAGE.

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                Productively links surveys of mass media research to emerging issues and problems. A thorough introduction to the field, suitable as a textbook or as a reference for scholars seeking concise overviews of various subfields.

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                • Pooley, Jefferson. 2008. The new history of mass communication research. In The history of media and communication research: Contested memories. Edited by David W. Park and Jefferson Pooley, 43–69. New York: Peter Lang.

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                  In this historiography of revisionist histories, Pooley integrates work from scholars across various disciplines to challenge the canonical narrative of early US communications research.

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                  Debating the Concept of the “Mass”

                  Whether or not media are best understood as “mass” has long been controversial, at least as far back as Freidson 1953, which insists (against the mass society theorists of that era) on the heterogeneity of audiences, and Escarpit 1977, an early proponent of the “network” framework. Napoli 2010, however, argues that the study of mass communication has been unfairly caricatured as lacking theoretical sophistication, while Neuman 1991 and Turow 1992 contend that continuities in media production and reception render the concept of “mass” media relevant today. Chaffee and Metzger 2001, as well as Lorimer 2002, advocate adapting, rather than rejecting, mass communications research to make it useful for studying online media.

                  • Chaffee, Steven H., and Miriam J. Metzger. 2001. The end of mass communication? Mass Communication and Society 4.4: 365–379.

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                    Contends that features traditionally defining mass communication—mass production, a lack of control by the individual, and finite channels for content dissemination—are generally absent online. Despite this, the article argues, previous audience research is still applicable to the study of Internet users, because old and new media share a common mass scale.

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                    • Escarpit, Robert. 1977. The concept of “mass.” Journal of Communication 27.2: 44–47.

                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.1977.tb01825.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      An important precursor to the network turn in later media audience theory, Escarpit argues for the use of the network concept over that of mass in order to better focus on emergent group identities and corresponding patterns of behavior.

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                      • Freidson, Eliot. 1953. Communications research and the concept of the mass. American Sociological Review 18.3: 313–317.

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                        Provides an oft-cited definition of the mass audience, presenting it as heterogeneous and composed of individuals who do not know each other, are spatially separated, and have little clear organization. Freidson concludes that the concept of the mass is not a useful tool for understanding media audiences, urging instead the examination of how local audiences respond to media in socialized patterns.

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                        • Lorimer, Rowland. 2002. Mass communication: Some redefinitional notes. Canadian Journal of Communication 27:63–72.

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                          Most notably, this article calls for rethinking the mass/interpersonal media binary, in order to capture both aspects at work in one-to-one communication online. Lorimer also advocates honing the notion of the “mass” to make distinctions between centralized, decentralized, and public forms.

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                          • Napoli, Philip M. 2010. Revisiting “mass communication” and the “work” of the audience in the new media environment. Media, Culture & Society 32.3: 505–516.

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                            The best available survey of how the term mass has been used in communications studies literature. Given that the mass communication research tradition has always demonstrated nuances separating it from crude iterations of the “mass society” paradigm, Napoli makes a convincing case for the former’s ongoing relevance for the study of online media users.

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                            • Neuman, W. Russell. 1991. The future of the mass audience. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                              One of the few attempts to empirically test the medium theory hypotheses of Marshall McLuhan, Neuman shows that continuities in user media practices and the political economy of media ownership tend to constrain the full development of medium affordances. The book also offers a prescient analysis of the contemporary fragmentation of media audiences.

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                              • Turow, Joseph. 1992. On reconceptualizing “mass communication.” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 36.1: 105–110.

                                DOI: 10.1080/08838159209364158Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                An argument for keeping the “mass” in media studies. Turow claims the use of industrial technology is definitive of media, both old and new, and reasons that this understanding allows us to investigate links between seemingly distinct media platforms.

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                                Networks and Fragmentation

                                Although the concept of the network has long been important to the study of media, it has gained ascendancy in recent years, fueled by the pervasiveness of Internet-based communication. Many scholars, discussing both technological and social networks, have framed online tools as enabling new capacities and freedoms. Benkler 2006 makes strong claims that the Internet, properly regulated against commercial enclosure, has created new forms of networked communication that bring us closer to realizing both subaltern and common public sphere ideals than at any time in the past. Castells 2007 sees Internet-enabled “mass self-communication” as steadily eroding the power of a mass media industry that will not easily relinquish its dominance. Williams and Delli Carpini 2011 offers a close qualitative comparison of the political relevance of mainstream news, even in its supposed golden age, with the emerging entertainment and opinion-oriented “multiaxial” media regime and conclude that the latter is often more democratically useful. Other scholars have questioned the normative desirability or empirical existence of a decentralized online public sphere. Turow 1997 offers an influential critical account of the relationship between the commercial imperatives of advertisers and social fragmentation. Prior 2007 suggests that mass broadcast media at least had the virtue of indirectly supporting news and public affairs programming; beginning with cable and accelerating with the Internet, most audiences in a high-choice media environment increasingly opt for entertainment over news. The small but dedicated news audiences that remain tend to be highly partisan, thus contributing to increasing political polarization, a product of audience fragmentation. Hindman 2009 offers convincing evidence that the web is concentrating, rather than dispersing, media production and audience attention, as legacy media organizations and a few elite bloggers extend their domination on to the new medium. Hargittai 2007 provides a welcome empirical parsing of the demographic characteristics of Internet users across a range of social networking sites. Parks 2005, representing an important emerging area of study, draws attention to the infrastructures underlying technological networks.

                                • Benkler, Yochai. 2006. The wealth of networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                                  Benkler makes the case that the architecture of the Internet, supported with anticommercial legal policies, effectively joins subaltern and core public spheres in ways that address many of Nancy Fraser’s critiques of Habermas’s early work. Synthesizing quantitative network analyses of Internet communication flows, Benkler convincingly demonstrates that the “networked information economy” is a marked democratic improvement from the hierarchical broadcast system that preceded it.

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                                  • Castells, Manuel. 2007. Communication, power and counter-power in the network society. International Journal of Communication 1:238–266.

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                                    Mass self-communication through horizontal networks, Castells proposes, offers new emancipatory affordances to social movements and individuals. These potentials are contested by mainstream corporate and political interests, which seek to instrumentalize both old (mass media) and new (networked) communications. Over the long term, however, Castells predicts bottom-up counter-power will prevail.

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                                    • Hargittai, Eszter. 2007. Whose space? Differences among users and non-users of social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13:276−297.

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                                      Exploring demographic predictors for the use of social networking sites, Hargittai finds that different sites pull in very different audiences, nuances that are often lost in general discussions of “Internet users.”

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                                      • Hindman, Matthew. 2009. The myth of digital democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                        Hindman’s convincing empirical analysis of web links, hits, and search results offers a powerful rejoinder to techno-utopians, showing not only that the Internet has not democratized mass communication but that online audience attention to a handful of legacy media organizations and socially privileged bloggers is more concentrated than it ever was for their offline equivalents.

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                                        • Parks, Lisa. 2005. Cultures in orbit: Satellites and the televisual. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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                                          Parks explores how satellites have long been implicated in not only the discourses of connection that undergird network theorizing, but also in various practices of perception, witnessing, and surveillance. Representative of an important recent turn toward the infrastructures of communicative networks.

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                                          • Prior, Markus. 2007. Post-broadcast democracy: How media choice increases inequality in political involvement and polarizes elections. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139878425Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            Prior elegantly demonstrates how a high-choice media environment has simultaneously dumbed-down the majority of the American electorate while intensifying partisan polarization of the remainder. The old mass audiences for television news were bolstered by a large segment of indifferent but relatively well-informed viewers; in a high-choice system, these viewers have migrated to entertainment while journalism caters to politically engaged, partisan news junkies.

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                                            • Turow, Joseph. 1997. Breaking up America: Advertisers and the new media world. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                              DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226817514.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              In this instant classic, Turow demonstrates how niche marketing has solidified and promoted actual social fragmentation. The book also usefully shows how both social imaginaries and material realities shape dominant discourses about audiences.

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                                              • Williams, Bruce A., and Michael X. Delli Carpini. 2011. After broadcast news: Media regimes, democracy, and the new information environment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511846366Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Situates the declining mass media “broadcast” regime in historical context, providing ample evidence of the political relevance and democratic usefulness of nonjournalistic and nonprofessional communication genres. Rather than resisting the mixing of news, entertainment, and opinion, the authors argue that scholars should help develop new ethical norms and public policies to guide this emerging media regime.

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                                                Media Effects and Public Opinion

                                                Against all-or-nothing claims about media influence on public opinion, sociologists have helped sort out the conditions under which media have more or less influence on various publics. Lasswell 1948 poses this research agenda most succinctly. Peterson and Thurstone 1933 raises the specter of movies’ powerful propaganda effects on children, while Gerbner, et al. 1986 finds evidence that viewers who watch the most television regard society as more violent and dangerous than those who watch less TV. Contrary to many of the retrospective assessments of early mass communications research, Lazarsfeld and Merton 1948; Hovland, et al. 1949; and Katz and Lazarsfeld 1955, while stressing “limited” effects, nevertheless continue to acknowledge media’s power to reinforce the status quo. Lippmann 1922, while pessimistic about media’s capacity to provide reliable information, attributes far more power to social class and status groups in shaping individual attitudes. DeFleur and Ball-Rokeach 1976 and Schudson 1989 help shift the research terrain to identify the variable conditions in which media (and other “cultural objects”) have more or less influence over audiences. Stroud 2011 is exemplary of an increasing US focus on the persuasive power of overtly partisan media, such as Fox News and MSNBC.

                                                • DeFleur, Melvin L., and Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach. 1976. A dependency model of mass media effects. Communication Research 3:3–21.

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                                                  This seminal text of media dependency theory proposes that an audience’s dependency on information (i.e., situations and events beyond their direct experience) is a key variable in determining the extent to which media messages will alter beliefs, feelings, or behavior.

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                                                  • Gerbner, George, Larry Gross, Michael Morgan, and Nancy Signorielli. 1986. Living with television: The dynamics of the cultivation process. In Perspectives on media effects. Edited by Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillman, 17–40. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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                                                    Critiquing media effects research for its myopic attention to short-term changes in individuals, this chapter presents “cultivation analysis” as a tool for evaluating the effects of accumulated exposure to television. The authors suggest that watching television leads audiences to express more mainstream opinions and is correlated to an untrusting, cynical worldview they term mean world syndrome.

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                                                    • Hovland, Carl I., Arthur A. Lumsdaine, and Fred D. Sheffield. 1949. Experiments in mass communication. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                      Conducted under the auspices of the US military, these classic experiments attempted to measure the effects of media texts. Challenging strong claims about the power of propaganda, the studies found that even one-sided messages do not necessarily alter audience beliefs and that altered beliefs are not necessarily manifest in actions.

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                                                      • Katz, Elihu, and Paul F. Lazarsfeld. 1955. Personal influence: The part played by people in the flow of mass communications. New York: Free Press.

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                                                        Often portrayed as a foundational text in the “limited effects” audience research tradition, Personal Influence coined the term two-step flow to describe the process through which media messages are filtered through “opinion leaders” in social networks of friends and family. Whether or not the study actually found limited effects was most notably called into question by Gitlin 1978 (cited under Overviews and Histories).

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                                                        • Lasswell, Harold. 1948. Structure and function of communication in society. In The communication of ideas. Edited by Lyman Bryson, 37–51. New York: Institute for Religious and Social Studies.

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                                                          This is the text in which the classic guiding question for mass communication research was first posed: “Who says what to whom via what channel with what effect?” Although this question has provided the rationale for many quantitative audience studies, Laswell’s intent in asking it was to broaden the field of inquiry.

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                                                          • Lazarsfeld, Paul F., and Robert K. Merton. 1948. Mass communication, popular taste, and organized social action. In The communication of ideas. Edited by Lyman Bryson, 95–118. New York: Institute for Religious and Social Studies.

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                                                            With concise and lucid theoretical modeling, Lazarsfeld and Merton argue that while mass media may be capable of redirecting preexisting behaviors, they have little power to instill new beliefs. Often portrayed as an early articulation of the limited-effects research tradition, this article also underscores the role mass media institutions play in perpetuating a capitalist economic system, an argument consistent with critical political economy.

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                                                            • Lippmann, Walter. 1922. Public opinion. New York: Harcourt, Brace.

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                                                              This classic work is usually referenced in relation to Lippman’s endorsement of technocratic democracy in the face of a public constitutionally unable to sort out fact from fiction. With John Dewey, however, one can admire Lippmann’s critical sociology of knowledge without embracing his policy recommendations. The analysis of social sets, stereotypes, and blind spots, albeit using different terms, accords closely with that of Bourdieu 1984 (cited under Media Reception: General Principles).

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                                                              • Peterson, Ruth C., and L. L. Thurstone. 1933. Motion pictures and social attitudes of children. New York: Macmillan.

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                                                                Examines changes in children’s attitudes toward social issues after viewing various films. The results indicate that repeated exposure to certain themes might have a cumulative and lasting effect on attitude change. A representative example of the laboratory-based quantitative research supported by the Payne Fund.

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                                                                • Schudson, Michael. 1989. How culture works. Theory and Society 18.2: 153–180.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1007/BF00160753Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  An indispensable theorization of cultural power. Staking a middle position between cultural determinism and absolute agency, Schudson proposes five alliterative dimensions through which culture has more or less power: retrievability, rhetorical force, resonance, (institutional) retention, and resolution. Perhaps less remembered but just as valuable, is his fourfold typology of magnitude of influence and magnitude of audience reach.

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                                                                  • Stroud, Natalie Jomini. 2011. Niche news: The politics of news choices. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199755509.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    Stroud shows that overtly partisan media not only respond to partisan audiences’ preexisting preferences, but also increase intolerance of opposing views and commitment to vote for like-minded candidates; among heavy viewers, even exposure to media with opposing viewpoints increases rather than decreases ideological polarization.

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                                                                    Media Reception: General Principles

                                                                    Closely related to media effects and public opinion, audience reception studies are more likely to be qualitative (using focus groups or in-depth interviews), conceptualize politics broadly, and emphasize the agency of ordinary individuals. Fiske 1987 provides important theoretical scaffolding for the “active audience” tradition. Ang 1985 examines the range of interpretations audiences may have for a single media text, while Liebes and Katz 1990 extends this analysis across national and cultural borders. Ruggiero 2000 provides an overview of the “uses and gratification” research tradition, which examines how audiences use media to fulfill existing desires; Herzog 1941 offers an early canonical text in this field. Hall 1980, reacting to simplistic depictions of audiences’ autonomy, situates variable audience agency in relation to hegemonic power structures; Bourdieu 1984 challenges the entire problematic of domination/resistance by emphasizing the extent to which most reception involves audiences seeking out media messages that reinforce their preexisting beliefs and practices. Livingstone 2004 as well as Goldstein and Machor 2008 update theories and methods for audience research for the contemporary era.

                                                                    • Ang, Ien. 1985. Watching Dallas: Soap opera and the melodramatic imagination. London: Methuen.

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                                                                      Analyzing letters sent by fans of the television program Dallas, Ang explores how her Dutch respondents make sense of the show and the varied pleasures that drive their viewership. Frequently referenced as a model of qualitative, open-response audience research, the book is also used by scholars interested in how texts are interpreted across cultures.

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                                                                      • Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                        Bourdieu shows the ways in which class “habitus” accords with cultural tastes and political attitudes. Given its focus on audiences seeking out media that reinforce their pre-existing beliefs, in multiple circuits of production-reception “homologies,” the book provides a powerful framework for analyzing contemporary media fragmentation.

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                                                                        • Fiske, John. 1987. Television culture. London: Methuen.

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                                                                          While accepting that television texts guide viewers toward certain interpretations, Fiske asserts that the pursuit of pleasure allows audiences to reframe television programs, producing readings grounded in their own experiences. While often cited for highlighting audience power, Fiske’s book is nuanced, exploring the tension between the cultural economy of audience interpretive power and the financial economy of television programming.

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                                                                          • Goldstein, Philip, and James L. Machor, eds. 2008. New directions in American reception study. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                            This collection updates reception research by exploring new questions and methods drawn from literary theory. See especially contributions from Jack Bratich and Tony Bennett as well as critical overviews from Janice Radway and Toby Miller.

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                                                                            • Hall, Stuart. 1980. Encoding/decoding. In Culture, media, language. Edited by Stuart Hall, Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe, and Paul Willis, 128–138. London: Hutchinson.

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                                                                              In this classic and indispensable essay, Hall argues that while televisual texts are encoded in an attempt to communicate a preferred meaning, audience members decode messages from dominant, negotiated, or oppositional positions. Often embraced by active audience theorists, Hall actually emphasizes structure as much or more than agency, and stresses the organizational work that must go into generating consistent oppositional readings.

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                                                                              • Herzog, Herta. 1941. On borrowed experience: An analysis of listening to daytime sketches. Studies in Philosophy and Social Science 9.1: 65–95.

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                                                                                This landmark study is one of the first to take seriously the emotional and psychological gratifications individuals gain from their day-to-day media use. An important precursor to the “uses and gratification” school of media research.

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                                                                                • Liebes, Tamar, and Elihu Katz. 1990. The export of meaning: Cross-cultural readings of Dallas. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                  This landmark study finds cross-national and cross-ethnic group differences in interpretations of the US television show Dallas and some cases of audiences actively misinterpreting episodes that directly challenge their traditional worldviews, which the authors take as evidence against theories of cultural imperialism. Also noteworthy for its categorization of modes of reading (semantic, syntactic, referential) linked to different degrees and types of critical distance.

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                                                                                  • Livingstone, Sonia. 2004. The challenge of changing audiences: Or, what is the audience researcher to do in the age of the Internet? European Journal of Communication 19.1: 75–86.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0267323104040695Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Raises the central question for all those grappling with how to think about reception in the digital era: Has everything really changed? While acknowledging the shift from audience activity to (potential) interactivity and the breakdown of the old distinctions between reception and use, production and consumption, and so on, Livingstone nevertheless argues for the continuing relevance of focusing on audience interpretations of texts, broadly defined.

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                                                                                    • Ruggiero, Thomas E. 2000. Uses and gratification theory in the 21st century. Mass Communication and Society 3.1: 3–37.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1207/S15327825MCS0301_02Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      An excellent survey of texts and debates in the uses and gratifications research tradition, which focuses on how people use media in their everyday lives, a question that seemed to be settled until computers and the Internet arrived on the scene.

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                                                                                      Media Reception: Family, Gender, and Class

                                                                                      Media reception studies have traditionally underscored the importance of place and lived experience. Rather than imagining media audiences as aggregate collections of atomistic individuals, reception studies emphasize the importance of where and with whom we use media. Radway 1984 and Gamson 1992 find that audiences often construct complex, critical understandings of media texts in conversation with peers or family. Morley 1986 and Lembo 2000 investigate the ways media, regardless of their textual content, influence our routines, schedules, and social bonds, and vice versa. Seiter 1999 and Fisherkeller 2002 also focus on the social aspects of media use, but concentrate more narrowly on gender dynamics and adult–child relationships. Press 1991, in an exemplary study, takes an intersectional approach, examining how class, age, and gender interact to inflect individuals’ media use and interpretations.

                                                                                      • Fisherkeller, JoEllen. 2002. Growing up with television: Everyday learning among young adolescents. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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                                                                                        One of the few longitudinal ethnographies to thoroughly situate television use in everyday life. Fisherkeller shows that while adolescents’ goals and motivations derive most directly from their interpersonal relationships, they use television as a reservoir of “imaginative strategies” for exploring, developing, and enriching their social lives.

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                                                                                        • Gamson, William A. 1992. Talking politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                          An innovative study that uses focus groups to analyze how working-class audiences talk about a range of political topics. Gamson finds that while individuals sometimes reproduce news media arguments, they also negotiate shared meanings by relying on personal experience and popular wisdom. In contrast to portrayals of the US public as woefully uninformed, Gamson presents his respondents as often quite engaged, sophisticated, and critical.

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                                                                                          • Lembo, Ron. 2000. Thinking through television. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511489488Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            Relying on in-depth interviews and in-home observations for evidence, Lembo proposes that television’s social significance stems from its ability to restructure viewers’ schedules and influence the attention individuals give to other activities. Early chapters offer a well-constructed survey of the television audience research literature.

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                                                                                            • Morley, David. 1986. Family television: Cultural power and domestic leisure. London: Comedia.

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                                                                                              Relying on unstructured interviews with families, Morley investigates how the domestic context influences television viewership. A clear precursor to Lembo 2000, Morley’s concern is not with how TV texts are interpreted, but with the rituals of TV use, which he finds to be deeply gendered.

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                                                                                              • Press, Andrea. 1991. Women watching television: Gender, class, and generation in the American television experience. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

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                                                                                                Press examines her female respondents’ reactions to portrayals of women on television, finding ambivalence: women are both influenced by and critical of media images of other women. Notable for stressing variable degrees and types of “hegemonic vulnerability” by class and generation.

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                                                                                                • Radway, Janice A. 1984. Reading the romance: Women, patriarchy, and popular literature. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

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                                                                                                  Radway finds that women read mass-market romance novels with a complex mixture of desire, ambivalence, and opposition to the limits of patriarchal social order. A classic text in the “active audience” tradition.

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                                                                                                  • Seiter, Ellen. 1999. Television and new media audiences. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                    Seiter uses ethnographic case studies to explore how television viewership and attitudes about the act of viewership are mediated by gender dynamics, adult–child relationships, and social structures of leisure. The second chapter (pp. 9–33) provides a helpful overview of qualitative research on media audiences.

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                                                                                                    Social Problems

                                                                                                    This research tradition starts from the premise that media attention and public opinion regarding social problems do not necessarily reflect the status or magnitude of the social problems themselves, and attempts to understand how and why some social problems garner media attention while others do not. Best 1995 documents the social construction process across a range of social problems, providing a useful introduction to the field. Entman and Rojecki 2000 extends Goffman’s notion of “framing” to research on public representations of race, while Iyengar 1991 shows how media frames shape audiences’ conceptions of causal responsibility for social problems. Hilgartner and Bosk 1989 situate claimsmaker activities in relation to the complete organizational ecology of media and other public arenas. McRobbie and Thornton 1995 also contextualizes media production, noting that hegemonic depictions of social problems provide grist for oppositional politics. Hall, et al. 1978; Gamson and Modigliani 1989; Ball-Rokeach 2001; and Klinenberg 2002 offer notable case studies of how media construct social problems.

                                                                                                    • Ball-Rokeach, Sandra J. 2001. The politics of studying media violence: Reflections 30 years after the violence commission. Mass Communication & Society 4.1: 3–18.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1207/S15327825MCS0401_02Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Ball-Rokeach reflects on her participation in the 1968 Media and Violence Task Force, the first US-government study to explicitly find that media exposure can increase the likelihood individuals will commit violent acts. This essay notes that such findings were based on elite consensus regarding the division between deviant and legitimate violence, a tacit agreement that inflected subsequent regulatory regimes.

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                                                                                                      • Best, Joel, ed. 1995. Images of issues: Typifying contemporary social problems. 2d ed. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

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                                                                                                        Against a relativist strict constructionism that refuses to link social problem constructions to any assessment of objective reality, Best and other authors make the case for “contextual constructionism” that seeks to explain which social problem definitions win out over others in the media and public opinion as the result of claimsmaker struggles, institutional factors, and social and historical conditions (as best as these can be determined through careful scholarly research).

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                                                                                                        • Entman, Robert M., and Andrew Rojecki. 2000. The black image in the white mind: Media and race in America. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                          Argues that subtle racial hierarchies evident across television, film, and advertising shape white attitudes toward black Americans. A nuanced examination of how racial divisions are constructed and maintained as social problems through the mass media.

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                                                                                                          • Gamson, William, and Andre Modigliani. 1989. Media discourse and public opinion on nuclear power: A constructionist approach. American Journal of Sociology 95:1–37.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1086/229213Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Among the very best case studies of how a social problem’s definition, causes, and solutions are constructed and reconstructed in the media and public opinion over time. Important for its explication of framing methodology and its conceptualization of national culture as themes and counterthemes.

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                                                                                                            • Hall, Stuart, Chas Critcher, Tony Jefferson, John Clarke, and Brian Roberts. 1978. Policing the crisis: Mugging, the state, and law and order. New York: Holmes and Meier.

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                                                                                                              A deeply historicized and contextualized account of how “mugging” was constructed as a social problem in Britain. Chapter three, “The Social Production of News” (pp. 53–74), delivers an especially influential account of the relationship between crime and the news. The book also calls attention to the power of government official sources to serve as “primary definers” of social problems in the news.

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                                                                                                              • Hilgartner, Stephen, and Charles L. Bosk. 1989. The rise and fall of social problems: A public arenas model. American Journal of Sociology 94:53–78.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1086/228951Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                This landmark article provides an organizational ecological framework for conceptualizing the entire universe of social problem construction activities. Noteworthy for emphasizing the competition among social problems for attention in public arenas (news media, books on social issues, congressional hearing agendas, foundation projects, etc.) each with their own limited “carrying capacity.”

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                                                                                                                • Iyengar, Shanto. 1991. Is anyone responsible? How television frames political issues. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226388533.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Finds that television news stories tend to be event driven rather than thematic, leading audiences to attribute responsibility for social problems to individuals rather than social processes.

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                                                                                                                  • Klinenberg, Eric. 2002. Heat wave: A social autopsy of disaster in Chicago. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226026718.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Demonstrates that a devastating 1995 Chicago heat wave was “naturalized” by the media as an environmental disaster when in fact many of the causes of suffering were largely human made. Significant for its multisite, multimethod approach that situates media in relation to other sites of public knowledge production.

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                                                                                                                    • McRobbie, Angela, and Sarah L. Thornton. 1995. Rethinking “moral panic” for multi-mediated social worlds. British Journal of Sociology 46.4: 559–574.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/591571Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Criticizes the monolithic depiction of society found in many studies of moral panic, advocating for the inclusion of niche media, subcultures, and politically oppositional mainstream news organizations in the analysis of social problems. McRobbie and Thornton argue that moral panics are not merely hegemonic assertions of norms, but provide opportunities for youth to express transgressive values—and for companies to profit by commodifying such transgression.

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                                                                                                                      Social Movements

                                                                                                                      Social movement studies have not always been attentive to media, but a select corpus of texts explore the role of social movement actors in constructing the news. Benford and Snow 2000 offers a concise introduction to this field of research. Gitlin 1980 draws on Gramsci’s concept of hegemony to explain the mainstream media’s discrediting framing of the 1960s’ US student movement. Three decades later, Sobieraj 2011 shows that contemporary social movements continue to court the media, despite the same kind of marginalization by mainstream outlets that Gitlin describes; Rodríguez 2011 provides a somewhat more hopeful account of the efficacy of performative movement activities in Colombia. Habermas 1996 reworks the author’s original conception of the public sphere (see Comparative Media Systems), and stresses the crucial link between social movements and media for democratic self-renewal. Rajagopal 2001 calls attention to variable types of mediated public spheres and how they can serve to help or hinder movement activism. Bennett and Segerberg 2013 links digital social media to a new form of social movement: “connective action.” Howard and Hussain 2011 shows how social media provide powerful ways for movements to promote their causes even in authoritarian societies.

                                                                                                                      • Benford, Robert D., and David A. Snow. 2000. Framing processes and social movements: An overview and assessment. Annual Review of Sociology 26:611–639.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.26.1.611Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Excellent overview of how social movements use frames to constitute collective identities, motivate collective action, and influence media coverage and public policy, a field of study the authors helped found.

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                                                                                                                        • Bennett, W. Lance, and Alexandra Segerberg. 2013. The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139198752Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Argues that digital social media provide new ways to help social movements achieve worthiness, unity, numbers, and commitment (Charles Tilly’s classic formula for success) at a historical moment when organization-driven collective action has become increasingly difficult to sustain. They elaborate and illustrate a model whereby digitally enabled connective action provides a noncoordinated, personalized, viral means of challenging entrenched power.

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                                                                                                                          • Gitlin, Todd. 1980. The whole world is watching: Mass media in the making and unmaking of the new left. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                                            In this indispensable account of movement–mainstream media relations, Gitlin demonstrates the usefulness of framing analysis and the Gramscian concept of hegemony for tracing the limits of acceptable public discourse. The book illustrates the dilemma faced by activists when they engage the mainstream media: try to keep the focus on the issues and be ignored, or use disruptive tactics to gain attention and be framed as troublemakers.

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                                                                                                                            • Habermas, Jürgen. 1996. Between facts and norms: Contributions to a discourse theory of law and democracy. Translated by William Regh. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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                                                                                                                              Building on the work of Bernhard Peters, Habermas develops in chapter 8 (“Civil Society and the Political Public Sphere”) a more fully elaborated empirical model of the contemporary public sphere. While the flow of power usually moves from center to periphery, during moments of crisis lifeworld concerns at the periphery may be carried by civil society associational and media “sluices” into the legislative and administrative political center.

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                                                                                                                              • Howard, Phil, and Muzammil M. Hussain. 2011. Digital media and the Arab Spring. Journal of Democracy 22.3: 35–48.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1353/jod.2011.0041Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Drawing on a close analysis of prodemocracy activism in Egypt and Tunisia, Howard and Hussain call attention to social media and develop a typology of stages of digital media use by the movements. They make a compelling case of how social media are becoming the “scaffolding upon which civil society can build” (p. 48).

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                                                                                                                                • Rajagopal, Arvind. 2001. Politics after television: Hindu nationalism and the reshaping of the public in India. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511489051Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Against the typical accounts of commercial media depoliticizing or secularizing society, this book’s investigation of the commercialization of Indian television reveals how it can also contribute to the rise of extremist religious and political movements. Rajagopal’s analysis of India’s “split public sphere”—wherein linguistic, regional, and class divisions structure distinct realms of cultural production and reception—adds an important variant to Habermas’s conception.

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                                                                                                                                  • Rodríguez, Clemencia. 2011. Citizens’ media against armed conflict: Disrupting violence in Colombia. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

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                                                                                                                                    A fascinating ethnography notable for its findings that activism has greater impact when approaching media communication as performance rather than as the simple dissemination of information.

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                                                                                                                                    • Sobieraj, Sarah. 2011. Soundbitten: The perils of media-centered political activism. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                      Sobieraj takes the study of social movements and media beyond the analysis of news content, delving into the ways voluntary organizations respond to their own mediated images. She proposes that activists’ emphasis on media portrayals may not only fail to generate coverage, but can disrupt group dynamics and siphon valuable resources from other political activities. In short, little has changed since Gitlin 1980.

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                                                                                                                                      Media and Community

                                                                                                                                      The study of solidarity produced via social interaction and shared meaning (rather than questions of power and domination) tends to unite the scholars gathered together in this section. The early works of the Chicago school, in particular Cooley 1909 and Park 1922 are influential sources of these approaches. Park’s work is further explored in Jacobs 2009. Another important source is Durkheim’s late work (especially The Elementary Forms of Religious Life), with its emphasis on the symbolic construction of the sacred and profane, taken up most thoroughly by Alexander 2006 but also an important influence for Carey 1988 and Dayan and Katz 1992. Anderson 1983 explores “print capitalism’s” power to create the imagined communities that underlay the early formation of nation-states. Zelizer 1992 portrays journalists as interpretive communities whose work can have lasting effects in shaping national collective memories.

                                                                                                                                      • Alexander, J. C. 2006. The civil sphere. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195162509.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        The culmination of Alexander’s long-standing attempts to articulate the cultural logic of public communications processes—with mass media playing a central role—understood in terms of Durkheimian binaries of sacred and profane. The book gives short shrift to class inequalities and other institutional power dynamics, but is worthwhile in reintroducing the search for solidarity as an important dynamic in contemporary politics.

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                                                                                                                                        • Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.

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                                                                                                                                          Focuses on the ways print culture helped individuals to imagine a wider community of readers, facilitating new notions of shared citizenship. A classic exploration of nationalism that continues to inspire research on the relationship between mass media and constructions of collective identity.

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                                                                                                                                          • Carey, James W., ed. 1988. Media, myths, and narratives: Television and the press. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.

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                                                                                                                                            Essays in this collection consider mass media as storytelling apparatuses and turn to concepts of myth and ritual to find durable cultural patterns that “withstand the vicissitudes of the modern age” (p. 14). Carey’s introduction delivers a concise argument for studying power and ideology through the lens of culture, rather than vice versa.

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                                                                                                                                            • Cooley, Charles Horton. 1909. Social organization: A study of the larger mind. New York: Charles Scribner’s.

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                                                                                                                                              In this seminal text for American sociology, Cooley accentuates the importance of primary group affiliations, arguing that people will tend to cling to these relations, even as they enter more-complex social worlds. For media scholars, Cooley’s work acts as a call to study media not as objects creating effects, but as symbols that individuals interpret within and through their community relationships.

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                                                                                                                                              • Dayan, Daniel, and Elihu Katz. 1992. Media events: The live broadcasting of history. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                Dayan and Katz defend the capacity of mass media spectacle to enhance social solidarity, even as they acknowledge that it can also reinforce hegemonic power. Provides a useful media event typology of coronations, conquests, and contests.

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                                                                                                                                                • Jacobs, Ronald N. 2009. Culture, the public sphere, and media sociology: A search for a classical founder in the work of Robert Park. American Sociologist 40.3: 149–166.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1007/s12108-009-9070-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Grounded in a close and thorough historiography of media sociology, Jacobs argues that the discipline ought to reclaim Robert Park as a founding figure, both to increase the visibility of media studies within sociology and to provide an exemplar for research that takes seriously the distinctive public and cultural character of media.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Park, Robert. 1922. The immigrant press and its control. New York: Harpe.

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                                                                                                                                                    Proposes that foreign language newspapers, rather than contributing to cultural isolationism, foster the assimilation of immigrants into US society. Interesting—especially in our current moment of demographic-driven media—for considering the ways niche media can promote broader cultural connections.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Zelizer, Barbie. 1992. Covering the body: The Kennedy assassination, the media, and the shaping of collective memory. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                                                      Examines how reporters used coverage of John F. Kennedy’s assassination to establish their own professional authority and credibility. Zelizer’s research frames culture as a realm of competition for legitimacy, in which cultural memory is the outcome of struggles for communicative power.

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                                                                                                                                                      Popular Culture

                                                                                                                                                      Often the object of academic scorn, popular culture is condemned by Horkheimer and Adorno 2002 for its stultifying standardization and by Goffman 1987 for infantilizing portrayals of women. Wasko 2001 studies Disney’s role in popular culture through a similarly critical lens. Fiske 2010 sets the template for cultural studies’ recuperation of popular culture’s progressive potential, and for the study of audiences’ agency; Gamson 1998 continues in this tradition. Other analyses are more ambivalent, such as those of Schudson 1984 and Grindstaff 2002. Murray and Ouellette 2009 showcase the breadth of approaches that scholars may take to the study of popular genres. Grazian 2010 provides an excellent overview of contemporary sociological theorizing and research on popular culture.

                                                                                                                                                      • Fiske, John. 2010. Understanding popular culture. 2d ed. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                        A rerelease of Fiske’s 1989 classic text. Cogently blends the theoretical contributions of various scholars—de Certeau, Hall, and Bakhtin among others—to highlight the active meaning-making role of popular culture audiences.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Gamson, Joshua. 1998. Freaks talk back: Tabloid talk shows and sexual nonconformity. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226280639.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Finds that tabloid-style TV talk shows depict a wider variety of sexual identities than other popular mass media genres. Gamson explores the affordances and limitations of these portrayals, grounding his discussion in an ethnographic analysis of the institutional shaping of the talk show genre.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Goffman, Erving. 1987. Gender advertisements. New York: Harper and Row.

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                                                                                                                                                            Analyzing advertisements from popular magazines, Goffman attempts to denaturalize “hyper-ritualized” depictions of gender in advertising, ultimately concluding that ads tend to infantilize women. An archetypical example of ideology critique aimed at a popular-culture genre.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Grazian, David. 2010. Mix it up: Popular culture, mass media and society. New York: W. W. Norton.

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                                                                                                                                                              The simple truism that popular culture shifts rapidly makes up-to-date surveys difficult to come by. Grazian offers a comprehensive, accessible yet theoretically sophisticated overview that grounds an exploration of sociological approaches to popular culture in recent case studies.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Grindstaff, Laura. 2002. The money shot: Trash, class, and the making of TV talk shows. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226309088.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                An important contribution to the literature on how cultural professionals negotiate distinctions between high and low culture. Grindstaff offers a rare inside look at how the labor of staff, hosts, and guests coalesce to create moments of intense, visible affect for televisual display.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W. Adorno. 2002. The culture industry: Enlightenment as mass deception. In Dialectic of enlightenment. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Originally published in 1947, this essay argues that the purported chaos of mass culture actually belies a pervasive sameness. Standardized capitalist production, the authors suggest, has resulted in a standardized culture, which promotes passivity in an undifferentiated mass audience. For better or worse, this chapter tends to stand as a synecdoche for the Frankfurt School’s approach to the critical study of mass media.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Murray, Susan, and Laurie Ouellette, eds. 2009. Reality TV: Remaking television culture. 2d ed. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Offers the most thoughtful and far-ranging collection of research on reality TV available. Notable for adding historical and economic perspectives to the cultural criticism that tends to dominate discussions of the genre.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Schudson, Michael. 1984. Advertising, the uneasy persuasion: Its dubious impact on American society. New York: Basic Books.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Most of this carefully researched and argued book brings Schudson’s trademark skepticism to bear against overblown claims about advertising power. The conclusion, however, concedes that even if advertising may not be all that successful in promoting sales of individual products it has been spectacularly successful in promoting a culture of “capitalist realism,” a way of life based on private consumption.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Wasko, Janet. 2001. Understanding Disney: The manufacture of fantasy. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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                                                                                                                                                                        A noted scholar of the political economy of media, Wasko provides a detailed and critical examination of Disney as an institution and cultural phenomenon. An instructive example of how political economy can articulate with ideological or cultural critique.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Medium Studies

                                                                                                                                                                        Much of the sociological research on media technology tends to grapple, directly or indirectly, with the technological determinist legacy of Marshall McLuhan. Meyrowitz 1985 and Jenkins 2006 skirt close to determinism, but acknowledge social factors at work. Gitlin 2002 accepts McLuhan’s insight that media create a total environment shaping experience, but this causal account draws on Marx and Simmel to stress the economic drivers. Williams 2003 offers the most systematic rejoinder to McLuhan, and provides a poetic paean to television’s aesthetic qualities. In Williams’s tradition of critical social history of technology, Hilmes 1997 examines radio and Van Dijk 2013 studies social media. Boczkowski 2004 draws on actor-network theory for detailed micro-organizational empirical case studies of online newspapers. Turkle 2011 explores the effects of computer and Internet use on social relationships. Fisher 1992 provides, hands-down, the best conceptual overview of the field.

                                                                                                                                                                        • Boczkowski, Pablo J. 2004. Digitizing the news: Innovation in online newspapers. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                          An exemplary multisite newsroom ethnography that captures the first tentative steps toward putting journalism online. Drawing on the theoretical tools provided by science and technology studies, Boczkowski shows that technology is not a revolutionary force, but a set of new capacities taken up within existing modes of production.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Fisher, Claude. S. 1992. America calling: A social history of the telephone to 1940. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Fisher’s introduction is the best available synthesis of the literature on the social effects of technologies. The book systematically demonstrates how the telephone, a supposedly transformative technology of an earlier era, tended to reinforce social ties already in existence.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Gitlin, Todd. 2002. Media unlimited: The torrent of sounds and images in modern life. New York: Henry Holt.

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                                                                                                                                                                              An ambitious attempt to rethink media in their totality as the primary component of contemporary lived experience, rather than as particular technologies or outlets with distinct content. Drawing on Simmel, Gitlin sees constant media consumption as the search for “disposable” feeling (p. 41) and concludes rather pessimistically that coping “styles of navigation” (p. 118) rather than resistance are the only possible response.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Hilmes, Michele. 1997. Radio voices: American broadcasting, 1922–1952. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                An excellent and all-too-rare institutional history of US radio, focusing on the medium as an evolving series of social practices. Accomplishes for the sociology of radio what Williams 2003 did for television.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Jenkins, Henry. 2006. Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Jenkins argues that new technologies have created a more dialogic relationship between media industries and fans, opening new possibilities for cultural production.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Meyrowitz, Joshua. 1985. No sense of place: The impact of electronic media on social behavior. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Meyrowitz brings McLuhan to Goffman (rather than the reverse) by suggesting provocatively that television’s affordances break down the barriers between “backstage” and “front stage” behavior, thus challenging hierarchical relations (parents and children, political elites and their electorate, etc.) whose legitimacy depends partly on secrecy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Turkle, Sherry. 2011. Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York: Basic Books.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Proposes that as our experiences become more technologically mediated, we acquire deepening emotional relationships with objects; in turn, the line between how we treat humans and how we treat things begins to blur. Useful for conceptualizing affect as constructed with and through technology, rather than as an outcome of exposure to media content.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Van Dijk, Jose. 2013. The culture of connectivity: A critical history of social media. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Van Dijk recuperates the not so distant yet already forgotten histories of social media giants Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia (as well as would-be giant Flickr) and drawing on Castells and Latour, deftly links their political–economic and technological facets. Usefully contrasts the ongoing tension in social media between logics of (user-driven community) connectedness and (marketing-driven algorithmic) connectivity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Williams, Raymond. 2003. Television: Technology and cultural form. London: Fontana.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          In a rejoinder to McLuhan and other technologically deterministic accounts of television, Williams argues that the experience of televisual flow—a barrage of seemingly unrelated segments and advertisements within and across programs—is not solely a product of TV as a technology, but a consequence of the social formation that produced the medium. First published in 1974.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          News, Government, and Society

                                                                                                                                                                                          The potential for government, corporations, or special interests to bias the news is a trope in much popular media criticism. Media sociologists have made important efforts to historicize and empirically ground these critiques, without losing sight of the power struggles and political stakes that make news an important object of study. Schudson 1978 offers the classic historical account of the rise of “objective” journalism, denaturalizing the Anglo-American tradition of reporting. The Glasgow University Media Group 1976, a book that is the first in a long line of incisive and influential analyzes of media bias, details the patterned one-sidedness of ostensibly neutral British news coverage. Hallin 1986 and Bennett 1990 challenge strong claims of media agenda-setting power, showing how media coverage tends to follow the lead of political elites. Herman and Chomsky 1988 links US foreign news to elite interests, which they criticize as propaganda. Cook 2005 and Benson and Neveu 2005 make the case for new institutionalist and field theory approaches to the sociology of news. Molotch and Lester 1974 offers an enduringly useful typology of events and news assemblers. Research in this tradition has been historically dominated by US and UK case studies, but this tendency is beginning to change. Schudson 2010 usefully integrates the growing field of comparative research (for more see Globalization and Comparative Media Systems).

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Bennett, W. Lance. 1990. Toward a theory of press–state relations in the United States. Journal of Communication 40.2: 103–127.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.1990.tb02265.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Demonstrates that news coverage is generally “indexed” to the parameters of debate among governing elites, with little connection to public opinion.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Benson, Rodney, and Erik Neveu, eds. 2005. Bourdieu and the journalistic field. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              This collection of essays and case studies demonstrates the usefulness of conceptualizing journalism as a “mezzo-level” field of competing organizations with various amounts and types of cultural and economic “capital,” analyzing production-reception “homologies,” and taking into account the social class “habitus” of journalists, sources, and audiences.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Cook, Timothy E. 2005. Governing with the news: The news media as a political institution. 2d ed. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226026688.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                The classic case for understanding the news media as simultaneously institutional (sharing a common logic of practice) and political (serving political functions directly or indirectly). Drawing on “new institutionalist” theory, Cook is an intellectual close cousin to Bourdieu: he misses the latter’s class analysis but adds a more thoroughgoing discussion of media–state relations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Glasgow University Media Group. 1976. Bad news. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Provides a rigorous examination of British television news, debunking the notion of journalistic objectivity by laying bare patterned biases in reportage. The authors’ analyses of news texts are supplemented by ethnographic research and interviews to show the specific influences that shape news production. The book’s careful look at the framing of trade unions is especially incisive.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hallin, Daniel C. 1986. The “uncensored war”: The media and Vietnam. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Decisively refutes the claims that the US media “lost” the war in Vietnam through their negative news coverage. Hallin shows that the major newspapers and television news only began to include critical coverage after major political leaders and the general public began to raise questions about the war, and even then, quite cautiously.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Herman, Edward S., and Noam Chomsky. 1988. Manufacturing consent: The political economy of the mass media. New York: Pantheon.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      While their “propaganda model” is often parodied, Herman and Chomsky actually emphasize institutional factors consistent with many other news studies and provide compelling evidence of mainstream news coverage of foreign affairs biased in favor of US-governmental and business elite interests.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Molotch, Harvey, and Marilyn Lester. 1974. News as purposive behavior: The strategic use of routine events, accidents, and scandals. American Sociological Review 39:101–112.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        This landmark article shows how news is “constructed” as a result of the activities of news promoters, assemblers, and consumers. Its typology of news events—routines, accidents, scandals, and serendipitous events—has been enormously helpful in explaining how and why various types of news coverage differ, as well as in identifying opportunities for effecting social change.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Schudson, Michael. 1978. Discovering the news: A social history of American newspapers. New York: Basic Books.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Exemplary both as a history of American newspapers and a model for the sociohistorical investigation of the institutionalization of professional norms. Schudson traces the origins of journalistic “objectivity” to the 1830s’ “penny press,” but ultimately emphasizes the role of the early 20th century Progressive movement in helping solidify these new journalistic norms and practices.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Schudson, Michael. 2010. The sociology of news. New York: W. W. Norton.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Comprehensive and accessible—and up to date on the latest international research—this is the definitive overview of the subfield.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            News Genre and Form

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Scholars have devoted increasing attention in recent years to the structuring potentials of layout, typography, format, and genre in the news. Hughes 1940 is an early text in this tradition, examining the social forces influencing the adoption of various news genres; this theme has been picked up more recently by Hamilton 2004. Jacobs and Townsley 2011 brings long overdue attention to journalism’s opinion genres. Matheson 2000, Barnhurst and Nerone 2001, and Broersma 2007 call attention to how news formats shape discourse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Barnhurst, Kevin G., and John Nerone. 2001. The form of news: A history. New York: Guilford.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Offers the definitive history of newspaper form and a provocative analysis of how the physical organization of news texts relates to civic culture and engagement.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Broersma, Marcel J. 2007. Visual strategies: Dutch newspaper design between text and image 1900–2000. In Form and style in journalism: European newspapers and the presentation of news, 1880–2005. Edited by Marcel J. Broersma, 177–198. Dudley, MA: Peeters.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                A nuanced account of how social constructions of news, technological innovation, and industry competition come together to alter modes of newspaper production and, ultimately, representations of reality. Without falling prey to formalist technological determinism, Broersma calls attention to the formal visual characteristics of the newspaper medium too often overlooked in favor of discursive content.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Hamilton, James T. 2004. All the news that’s fit to sell: How the market transforms information into news. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Applies the tools of economic analysis to make convincing claims about how various types of market structures and pressures lead the news to be objective, partisan, sensationalistic, or serious. An important and unique contribution to the literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hughes, Helen MacGill. 1940. News and the human interest story. London: Transaction.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of the first studies to delve into the institutional forces shaping news formats. Hughes argues that the form of news must be understood in relation to both economic interests and the broader social order.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Jacobs, Ronald N., and Eleanor Townsley. 2011. The space of opinion: Media intellectuals and the public sphere. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199797929.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A welcome addition to a literature for too long dominated by a focus on news reporting rather than other journalistic genres. Jacobs and Townsley provide a useful history of US opinion journalism and an original analysis of the complex links between media formats, types of speakers, and rhetorical styles.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Matheson, Donald. 2000. The birth of news discourses: Changes in news language in British newspapers, 1880–1930. Media, Culture & Society 22.3: 557–573.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/016344300022005002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Analyzes how writing style, in concert with other forces, allowed journalists to develop increasing autonomy as arbiters of meaning. Matheson argues for the necessity of taking language seriously when considering changing forms of news.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Newsroom Studies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        To get beyond the surface interpretation of news texts, media scholars have found it important to enter and study the newsroom itself. Here researchers have examined the routines and decision-making procedures that undergird journalistic production. Early newsroom studies include White 1950 and Breed 1955; the 1970s and 1980s saw a proliferation of classic newsroom ethnographies, important works such as Epstein 1973, Tuchman 1978, and Gans 1979. Pedelty 1995 broadens the scope of newsroom studies, examining foreign correspondents in the field. Schultz 2007 digs deep for the unarticulated assumptions guiding news choices. Ryfe 2012 finds persistence of traditional journalistic practices in the midst of economic upheaval. Anderson 2013 presents a rigorous account of news production across a single city, which increasingly no longer takes place in traditional newsrooms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Anderson, C. W. 2013. Rebuilding the news: Metropolitan journalism in the digital age. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This well-designed multisite ethnographic study captures news at a time of transition, from “legacy” outlets to bloggers and citizen journalists. Anderson pays close attention to technology’s myriad uses and effects while ultimately offering an institutional explanation for widespread resistance to change.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Breed, Warren. 1955. Social control in the newsroom: A functional analysis. Social Forces 33.4: 326–335.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Examines how journalists are socialized to follow newspaper policies usually set implicitly by owners. Breed is concerned specifically with newspapers’ political orientations and the circumstances under which these general outlooks are supported or bypassed by reporters.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Epstein, Edward Jay. 1973. News from nowhere: Television and the news. New York: Random House.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Argues that US television networks shape their news coverage in response to internal institutional demands, not neutral evaluations of what constitutes newsworthy events. An exemplar of organizational analysis applied to the newsroom.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Gans, Herbert J. 1979. Deciding what’s news: A study of CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, Newsweek, and Time. New York: Random House.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Widely regarded as the classic newsroom study, it covers almost every imaginable aspect of the news production process. Gans also first presents here his normative argument on behalf of “multiperspectival” news. A twenty-fifth anniversary edition published by Northwestern University Press in 2004 offers a new preface from Gans updating his analysis, though he finds that most of his original conclusions still hold.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Pedelty, Mark. 1995. War stories: The culture of foreign correspondents. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Venturing outside the newsroom, this is quite possibly the best news ethnography ever and certainly the most readable. Pedelty offers memorable portraits of the various tiers of foreign correspondents: United States versus western European, parachutists versus on-the-ground stringers, and others. Also notable for its critique of journalistic “dramatic narrative” and its articulation of alternative practices.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Ryfe, David M. 2012. Can journalism survive? An inside look at American newsrooms. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An engagingly written, theoretically sophisticated study based on three long-term newsroom ethnographies, deeply contextualized in contemporary structural transformations of the journalistic field as a whole. Ryfe offers the intriguing argument that “constitutive rules” (p. 25) shaping journalists’ interactions with their sources, editors, and readers have impeded change even in those relatively rare instances where journalists actively sought it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Schultz, Ida. 2007. The journalistic gut feeling: Journalistic doxa, news habitus, and orthodox news values. Journalism Practice 1.2: 190–207.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/17512780701275507Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Drawing on Bourdieu’s concepts and observations of editorial meetings at a Danish television newsroom, Schultz (now Willig) insightfully analyzes the explicit and implicit assumptions that guide choices of what is newsworthy or not newsworthy

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Tuchman, Gaye. 1978. Making news: A study in the construction of reality. New York: Free Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Vies with Gans’s Deciding What’s News in comprehensiveness and insight. Well-known for its detailed observations of bureaucratic routines, the book’s analysis of narrative form and typology of television visual formats are also enormously useful.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • White, David Manning. 1950. The “gate keeper”: A case study in the selection of news. Journalism Quarterly 27.3: 383–391.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          One of the very first newsroom studies. Its early application of Kurt Lewin’s “gate keeper” concept continues to inspire important news research.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Media Policy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Research in this tradition has punctured the myth, particularly prevalent in the United States, that the press somehow exists (or should exist) entirely independent of the state: it has left no doubt about the existence of government intervention and shifted the discussion to “how.” Starr 2004 traces the history of US state interventions that have fostered innovations in media technologies, while McChesney 1993 examines the heated contestation over early radio policy, establishing the template for contemporary hypercommercialization; Streeter 1996 shows how these policies were transferred to television; Hoynes 1994 documents the increasing commercialization of even US public media. Baker 2002 draws on economic theory to make the case for media as a “public good,” justifying targeted state intervention to address market failure; Pickard 2011 critically surveys a range of policies that have been or could be used for just such purpose. Freedman 2008 offers a useful analytical framework for analyzing media policy debates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Baker, C. Edwin. 2002. Media, markets, and democracy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An absolutely indispensable work, Baker draws on economic theory to systematically refute the appropriateness of laissez-faire economics for shaping media policy. Building on the work of James Curran and others, Baker also creates a useful typology of evaluation of media performance in relation to various democratic normative models.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Freedman, Des. 2008. The politics of media policy. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Frames media policy in the United States and United Kingdom as spheres in which competing elites attempt to shape the media system in their favor. A productive example of how to approach policy as a contested process rather than as a series of reified legislative outcomes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Hoynes, William. 1994. Public television for sale: Media, the market, and the public sphere. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Offers a comprehensive history and institutional and content analyses of the US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Hoynes finds that PBS has become increasingly market oriented over time and often falls short of providing a substantial alternative to commercial broadcasting. The book concludes with a useful discussion of the democratic justifications for public television and some still-relevant policy prescriptions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • McChesney, Robert W. 1993. Telecommunications, mass media, and democracy: The battle for control of U.S. broadcasting 1928–1935. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This important book denaturalizes the current media regulatory regime by unearthing the historical moment when America’s radio (and ultimately television) system was born. Rather than cultural consensus, McChesney discovers an intense policy battle in which commercial actors ultimately prevailed in creating a regulatory regime that equated their private interests with the public interest.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Pickard, Victor. 2011. Can government support the press? Historicizing and internationalizing a policy approach to the journalism crisis. Communication Review 14:73–95.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/10714421.2011.573430Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Addressed to a US journalism profession and industry in crisis, Pickard offers a comprehensive historical and contemporary survey (often unearthing little known examples) of government policies in the United States and elsewhere that could help the press meet its democratic responsibilities without compromising its independence.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Starr, Paul. 2004. The creation of the media: Political origins of modern communications. New York: Basic Books.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A thorough “new institutionalist” history of major US media from the 1700s up to the Second World War. Offers a compelling argument for the centrality of political decision making in shaping media systems.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Streeter, Thomas. 1996. Selling the air: A critique of the policy of commercial broadcasting in the United States. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226777290.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Demonstrates that markets and audiences are as much products of government regulation as are other well-known sites of state involvement. Streeter’s critical intervention focuses on the contradictions that emerge when old regulatory regimes are applied to new technologies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Media Industries and Political Economy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thompson 2010, as well as Hesmondhalgh and Baker 2011, offer comprehensive accounts of book publishing and other creative cultural industries. Smythe 1977 and Mosco 1996 make the case for a neo-Marxist analysis of media industries. Noam 2009 offers the most authoritative analysis of trends in media ownership concentration in the United States. Peterson and Anand 2004 provides the definitive overview of the sociological approach to the production of culture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hesmondhalgh, David, and Sarah Baker. 2011. Creative labour: Media work in three cultural industries. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Valuable and unique for its articulation of a normative theory of “good work” and its systematic examination of production practices across different types of media industries (in this case: music, magazines, and television).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Mosco, Vincent. 1996. The political economy of communication: Rethinking and renewal. London: SAGE.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An influential overview of the political economy tradition in communication scholarship. In addition to staking out central discussions, thinkers, and research interests, Mosco gives in-depth treatment to issues of commodification, spatialization, and structuration.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Noam, Eli M. 2009. Media ownership and concentration in America. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195188523.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The most detailed study of US media ownership concentration available. Noam analyzes individual media industries, ultimately concluding that trends toward concentration exist but have not been as strong or as linear as is often argued.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Peterson, Richard A., and N. Anand. 2004. The production of culture perspective. Annual Review of Sociology 30:311–334.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.30.012703.110557Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Provides an excellent synthesis of sociological studies of production of culture across a range of cultural professional industries. The authors identify six variable facets (technology, law and regulation, industry structure, organization structure, occupational careers, and market) that shape cultural production, and conclude with responses to potential criticisms of their approach.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Smythe, Dallas. 1977. Communications: Blindspot of western Marxism. Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory 1.3: 1–27.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Proposes that the central commodity of advertiser-supported media industries is the audience itself. Media consumption is framed not as leisure but as work, a labor in which the audience produces demand for advertised goods. Smythe accuses many critical scholars of focusing too heavily on the cultural dimension of media texts while ignoring the political economy of media.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Thompson, John B. 2010. Merchants of culture: The publishing business in the twenty-first century. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Following his 2005 examination of academic publishing, Books in the Digital Age (Cambridge, UK: Polity), Thompson widens his inquiry to look at trade book publishing. Supported by hundreds of in-depth interviews that allowed Thompson to thoroughly map the “field,” the book is by far the best available work on publishing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Globalization

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Media studies has often been criticized for two interrelated shortcomings. Firstly, the discipline has been chided for basing its analysis too exclusively on European and North American case studies, marginalizing other empirical accounts; secondly, it has been accused of failing to fully explore the transnational nature of media flows. A growing body of research has developed to fill these gaps in the field. Kraidy 2005 and Hafez 2007 provide sophisticated critical analyses of hybridization and globalization. Park and Curran 2000 offers a useful collection of theoretically and geographically diverse case studies of global media, while Ginsburg, et al. 2002 brings an ethnographic lens to a global array of media-producer and audience practices. Both Zhao 2008 and Shirk 2011 probe the international alliances and antagonisms that shape Chinese media, offering useful models for how scholars can approach national case studies with an eye toward transnational media concerns. Jeffrey 2000 provides an example of rigorous research focused on regional media differences in India, an important reminder that patterns of media globalization are not homogenous within nation states. Serra 2000 uses the new model of the public sphere introduced in Habermas 1996 (cited under Social Movements) to examine how local events become transnational issues via the media. Thompson 1995, while not generally considered a text on globalization, provides indispensable tools for examining media within and across borders.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Ginsburg, Faye D., Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin, eds. 2002. Media worlds: Anthropology on new terrain. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This collection is valuable for its in-depth treatment of nonwestern societies and its focus on media use in everyday life (with some startling reminders of the differing media infrastructure in many developing countries). Against theories of global cultural homogenization, the book’s chapters also emphasize the ongoing production of local differences.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Hafez, Kai. 2007. The myth of media globalization. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Argues with considerable evidence that media globalization is neither as pervasive nor as rapidly advancing as is often claimed. Hafez introduces the categories of connectivity, change, and interdependence to foster more empirically measurable claims in media globalization research.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Jeffrey, Robin. 2000. India’s newspaper revolution: Capitalism, politics and the Indian language press, 1977–1999. New York: St. Martin’s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A well-researched account of the role newspapers have played in shifting patterns of political participation in India. Focuses mostly on the political economy of newspapers rather than their content.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Kraidy, Marwan M. 2005. Hybridity, or the cultural logic of globalization. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hybridity has been a generative concept in recent research on media and globalization; Kraidy’s book pulls together work from across disciplines to analyze the import of the concept. Most notably, Kraidy warns against equating hybridity with cultural resistance to globalization, arguing that hybrids often form in response to unequal exchange patterns and serve a powerful legitimizing role for neoliberalism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Park, Myung-Jin, and James Curran, eds. 2000. De-westernizing media studies. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A critique of and response to the geographical myopia of comparative media systems scholarship. The introduction is especially compelling, offering fierce criticism of the perceived Euro/Anglo-centrism of past research, analysis of the limits of current paradigms, and a call for reorienting inquiry toward a more global focus with a continued acknowledgment of the power of the nation-state.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Serra, Sonia. 2000. The killing of Brazilian street children and the rise of the international public sphere. In Media organizations in society. Edited by James Curran, 151–171. London: Arnold.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Shows how a local campaign to stop the murder of street children coordinated with international NGOs to spread messages to sympathetic media in Europe in the United States. The ensuing international pressure for change, which Serra documents, offers a clear analysis of the mediated links between local issues and global politics and a powerful demonstration of Habermas’s empirical model of the public sphere as developed in Between Facts and Norms Habermas 1996, (cited under Social Movements).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Shirk, Susan L., ed. 2011. Changing media, changing China. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  While focused on China, these essays collectively explore the relationship between foreign and domestic, placing media at the center of political–economic relationships abroad and cultural imaginaries of Chinese citizenship circulated domestically. An excellent example of a geographically delineated research project using media to trace global connections.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Thompson, John B. 1995. The media and modernity: A social theory of the media. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Suggests a useful typology of media studies as encompassing institutional, hermeneutic, and technological medium theories. Integrating these three approaches, Thompson shows how media have rendered power visible in new ways and on a more global scale, thus altering the conditions of social life.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Zhao, Yuezhi. 2008. Communication in China: Political economy, power, and conflict. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A thoroughly researched account of China’s media system from a critical, neo-Marxian perspective. Zhao offers a careful and comprehensive structural analysis of Chinese media markets, institutions, and policy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Comparative Media Systems

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Theoretically and methodologically sophisticated comparative research on media systems has been growing in recent years. Esser and Pfetsch 2004, Hallin and Mancini 2004, Shoemaker and Cohen 2006, and Hallin and Mancini 2012 have been important in orienting research questions and in encouraging research beyond North America and western Europe. Waisbord 2000; Ferree, et al. 2002; Esser 2008; and Benson 2013 provide theoretically and methodologically generative comparative media system case studies. Habermas 1989 has provided an enduring normative and empirical framework for comparative studies of media systems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Benson, Rodney. 2013. Shaping immigration news: A French-American comparison. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139034326Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Develops a three-pronged field theory model analyzing the position, logic, and internal structure of national journalistic fields. Cross-national and cross-outlet differences in forms of news (e.g., the French multigenre debate ensemble versus the US personalized narrative format), level of commercialization, and audience demographics are linked to differing levels and types of ideological diversity and critical coverage.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Esser, Frank. 2008. Dimensions of political news cultures: Sound bite and image bite news in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. International Journal of Press/Politics 13.4: 401–428.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/1940161208323691Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Exemplary of a growing body of sophisticated comparative content analyses of news. Esser closely analyzes TV news discourses and images and finds evidence of distinctive national news “cultures” across the countries studied.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Esser, Frank, and Barbara Pfetsch, eds. 2004. Comparing political communication: Theories, cases, and challenges. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511606991Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Divided into three sections based on the book’s subtitle, this collection offers an outstanding overview of current research in comparative political communications. While limited mostly to European and North American case studies, the book’s methodological reflections will prove fruitful for scholars working in other world regions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Ferree, Myra Marx, William Anthony Gamson, Jürgen Gerhards, and Dieter Rucht. 2002. Shaping abortion discourse: Democracy and the public sphere in Germany and the United States. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511613685Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Develops a comprehensive and innovative content analysis of news frames and other indicators of “quality” discourse, specified in relation to a very useful typology of democratic normative models, and finds substantial US–German cross-national differences. The book also speaks to social movement scholarship, situating movement strategies in the two countries in relation to their unique discursive opportunity structures.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Habermas, Jürgen. 1989. The structural transformation of the public sphere: An inquiry into a category of bourgeois society. Translated by Thomas Burger. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Although the book is not explicitly comparative in focus nor without flaws in its empirical historical analysis, Habermas’s ideal of an inclusive public sphere oriented toward “rational-critical” debate continues to provide both for its admirers and detractors a crucial normative reference point and a standard against which actually existing media systems can be measured.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Hallin, Daniel C., and Paolo Mancini. 2004. Comparing media systems. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511790867Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Perhaps most widely known for outlining the characteristics of three distinct media system models (polarized pluralist, democratic corporatist, and liberal), the book’s greatest contribution is arguably the four dimensions it identifies for comparing media systems: the development of media markets, political parallelism between the press and the political system, journalistic professionalism, and the nature of state intervention in the media system.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hallin, Daniel C., and Paolo Mancini, eds. 2012. Comparing media systems: Beyond the western world. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A vibrant collection of essays testing, challenging, and reformulating the European/North American-focused comparative model developed in Hallin and Mancini 2004 for use in global research. The concluding chapter offers a concise and useful analysis of the tendencies and type of convergence that might be occurring and a lucid discussion of methodological problems in comparative research.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Shoemaker, Pamela J., and Akiba A. Cohen. 2006. News around the world: Content, practitioners, and the public. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An ambitious comparison of news in ten diverse nations (Australia, Chile, China, Germany, India, Israel, Jordan, Russia, South Africa, and the United States), this study attempts to identify which understandings of news and newsworthiness are shared across borders.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Waisbord, Silvio R. 2000. Watchdog journalism in South America: News, accountability, and democracy. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Waisbord documents a fascinating range of critical journalistic practices at commercial—but often highly partisan—media organizations in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and other South American nation-states, usefully contrasted to practices in the United States and western Europe.

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