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Two approaches to the study of mass media

  • Michael Buerage
Extract

In this essay two sociological perspectives are used to examine aspects of the mass media. One is derived from Marx's theory of capitalism and the forces and relations of production that determine its structure and development. According to this perspective, the mass media are part of a capitalist society and the content of the media is analysed in terms of class interest and class conflict. The second perspective is derived from Tocqueville's theory of democratic society. In Democracy in America Tocqueville uses two ideal types—of aristocratic and democratic society—to analyse American society and to compare it with European society.

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(1) See de Tocqueviixe, Alexis, Democracy in America, ed. Bradley, Phillips (New York, Vintage, 1945), 2 vols. Esp. vol. II, book I, chap, XI–XIII. For a similar point of view, Mannheim, Karl, Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge (London, Routledge, 1952), chap. II and Essays on the Sociology of Culture (London, Routledge, 1956), part III.

(2) See, for examples of the former view, Leavis, Q. D., Fiction and the Reading Public (London, Chatto and Windus, 1939); Hoggart, Richard, The Uses of Literacy (Fairlawn N. J., Essential Books, 1957). For the latter view see Altick, R. D., The English Common Reader (New York, Cambridge University Press, 1957); Herd, Harold, The March of Journalism (London, Allen and Unwin, 1952). There are, of course, mixed types, for example, Williams, Francis, Dangerous Estate (London, Longmans, 1957), and individual critics who seem to have shifted from one view to the other, MacDonald, Dwight, Against the American Grain (London, Gollancz, 1963).

(3) For an analysis of this distinction, see Berlin, Isaiah, Two Concepts of Liberty (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1963) and for an example of an appeal to the positive concept see Hoggart, , op. cit. p. 147; the negative is found throughout Herd, op. cit.

(4) See especially Read, Donald, Press and People 1790–1850 (London, Arnold, 1961).

(5) Webb, R. K., The British Working Class Reader 1990–1848 (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1957), pp. 1519.

(6) On the content of these publications, see Dalziel, Margaret, Popular Fiction 100 Years Ago (London, Cohen and West, 1957) and Webb, , op. cit. pp. 106115, 147151.

(7) Webb, , op. cit. pp. 25, 80.

(8) On the scale of this effort, see Altick, , op. cit. chap, III, v. On the anti-radical literature in the 1790's, Webb comments “for sheer size the performance is astounding” (op. cit. pp. 43, 41–45, 115–117, 130–133).

(9) On the reasons for this failure, see Webb, , op. cit. pp. 2628, 5359, 6673, 7780, 8692, 158162; Dalziel, , op. cit. chap, v, vi, VII; Altick, , op. cit. chap. v.

(10) For details on the organization and opinion of these papers, see Webb, , op. cit. pp. 3640; on circulation, ibid. p. 63; Altick, , op. cit. pp. 381393; Thompson, E. P., The Making of the English Working Class (New York, Vintage, 1963), pp. 718719. For comparison the daily circulation of The Times in 1822 was 5,730 (ibid.).

(11) Thompson, , op. cit. on the varied opinions in these papers, pp. 746–832.

(12) For examples of the latter, see Hindley, Charles, The Life and Times of James Catnach (London 1878) and The History of the Catnach Press (London 1887).

(13) Webb, , op. cit. p. 31.

(14) Thompson, , op. cit. p. 732.

(15) Dalziel, , op. cit. chap. IV.

(16) Thompson, , op. cit. pp. 712, 717, 735736.

(17) For an example of this type of argument, see Swados, Harvey, A Radical's America (Boston, Atlantic-Little Brown, 1962), pp. 6573.

(18) See for example the conclusions about the effects of television on children in Himmelweit, Hilde et al. , Television and the Child (London, Oxford University Press, 1958), pp. 1734.

(19) Royal Commission on the Press, 19471949 (London, Cmnd. 1700, HM50).

(20) These comments are based on a comparison of Emery, Edwin, The Press and America (Eaglewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall, 1963), chaps, XI, XII, XVII, XVIII; and Williams, Francis, Dangerous Estate (London, Longmans, 1957), chaps, VII, IX, X.

(21) For these other changes, see Emery, , op. cit. pp. 214225, 247, 311, 317, 357, 388—389, 422, and Williams, , op. cit. pp. 133134, 143156.

(22) Emery, , op. cit. and Bourne, H. R. Fox, English Newspapers (London, Chatto and Windus, 1887), vol. I, p. 390: “[Cobbett] brought with him some of the worst habits and methods of the young American journalism”. Williams, , op. cit. pp. 110113, 129: “The success of Levy's Daily Telegraph was achieved, in part, by emulating American popular journalism”. T. P. O'Connor, founder of The Star in 1888 which anticipated several of The Daily Mail's innovations had previously worked for the New York Herald and “found English newspapers stuffy and obsolete” (Williams, , op. cit. p. 133). For other examples, see Cudlipp, Hugh, Publish and Be Damned (London, Dakers, 1953), pp. 33, 73. For British influence on the founding of the New York Daily News, see Emery, , op. cit. p. 623.

(23) Williams, , op. cit. pp. 126127; Cudlipp, , op. cit. pp. 6465; Emery, , op. cit. chap. xx.

(24) For example, the press that Benjamin Day used to produce The New York Sun was developed by The Times (Emery, , op. cit. p. 210).

(25) Emery, , op. cit. p. 380.

(26) See for example Smith, J. W. Robertson, The Life and Death of a Newspaper (London, Methuen, 1952), pp. 101102, and comments by Williams, , op. cit. pp. 152156.

(27) Tocqueville, , Op. cit. Vol, II, pp. 6874.

(28) Williams, Raymond, Communications (London, Chatto and Windus, 1966), p. 93.

(29) Ibid. pp. 82–86.

(30) Thompson, op. cit. pp. 750751; Webb, , op. cit. p. 51.

(31) Schatzman, L. and Strauss, A., Social Classes and Modes of Communication, American Journal of Sociology, LX (1955), 329333; Bernstein, B., Some Sociological Determinants of Perception, British Journal of Sociology, IX (1958), 159174.

(32) Tocqueville, , op. cit. vol. II, p. 64.

(33) Williams, R., op. cit. pp. 133173.

(34) Id.Culture and Society 1780–1950 (New York, Harper and Row, 1966), p. ix.

(35) Gabriel, Ralph, The Course of American Democratic Thought (New York, Ronald, 1956): on Emerson, and Thoreau, pp. 5253; on Whitman, , pp. 132134; on Royce, , pp. 303314; on Turner, , pp. 322326; on Morgan, , pp. 172178.

(36) Ibid. pp. 220–226.

(37) Op. cit.: on Hulme, , pp. 190195; on Kingsley, , p. 102; on Lawrence, , pp. 209, 211; on Orwell, , p. 286.

(38) Ibid. pp. 56–57, 65.

(39) Ibid. p. 79.

(40) Ibid.: on Disraeli, , pp. 9798; on Dickens, , p. 96; on Eliot, G., pp. 105109; Arnold quoted p. 132.

(41) Ibid.: Hobson, J. A. quoted p. 140.

(42) Ibid. p. 229.

(43) Ibid. p. 201.

(44) Ibid. p. 140.

(45) Ibid. p. 35.

(46) Ibid.: authors cited.

(47) Williams, , op. cit. p. 64

(48) Ibid. p. 154.

(49) Briggs, Asa, The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom, vol I: The Birth of Broadcasting (Oxford, University Press, 1961), p. 238.

(50) Op. cit. pp. 7, 138.

(51) Reith, J. W. C., Into the Wind (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1949), p. 144.

(52) Wilson, H. H., Pressure Group (London, Seeker and Warburg, 1961), on government committees, pp. 20, 21; on the support of press and others, pp. 153, 159.

(53) Briggs, , op. cit. p. 26: “Few other institutions reveal more clearly the difference between national traditions, national ways of life”. Unfortunately he does not analyse these traditions and ways of life.

(54) Op cit. pp. 225, 232–236, 403.

(55) Op. cit. pp. 401–402.

(56) Wilson, H. H., op. cit. pp. 133, 138, 139. 159.

(57) Paulu, Burton, British Broadcasting (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, 1956), pp. 375380.

(58) Wilson, , op. cit. p. 16.

(59) Report of the Committee on Broadcasting 1960 (London, Cmnd. 1753, HMSO), pp. 5168, 290.

(60) Paulu, B., British Broadcasting in Transition (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, 1961), pp. 3852.

(61) Reith, , op. cit.

(62) Ibid. pp. 99, 100, quoted by Briggs, , op. cit. p. 238.

(63) Briggs, , op. cit. p. 238.

(64) Briggs, , op. cit. p. 206. Id.The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom. Vol. II: The Golden Age of Wireless, pp. 306308, 315323.

(65) Paulu, , British Broadcasting, op. cit. pp. 342343; Briggs, , op. cit. vol I, pp. 203204; vol. II, pp. 256–280; Reith, , op. cit. p. 101.

(66) Briggs, , op. cit. pp. 249250.

(67) Paulu, , British Broadcasting in Transition, op. cit. p. 18; Briggs, , op. cit. vol. II, pp. 467472.

(68) Briggs, , op. cit. vol I, p. 246.

(69) Loc. cit. on children's programmes, pp. 258–262; on music, p. 294; on talks p. 256.

(70) Paulu, , British Broadcasting, op. cit. pp. 342343; British Broadcasting in Transition, op. cit. pp. 169171.

(71) Paulu, , British Broadcasting in Transition, op. cit. pp. 2427.

(72) Ibid. p. 159.

(73) Ibid. pp. 88–89, 94–101, 107–110.

(74) White, Llewellyn, The American Radio (Chicago, University of Chicago, 1947). pp. 3233. 40. 153203.

(75) Barnouw, Erik, A History of Broadcasting in the United States (Oxford, New York, 1969), vol. II: The Golden Web, pp. 9495, 107, 155157. 177178.

(76) See for example Barnouw, Erik, op. cit. vol I: A Tower in Babel (Oxford, New York, 1966), pp. 28, 169; vol. II: pp. 259–260.

(77) For the remnants of an early aristocratic tradition see Curti, Merle, The Growth of American Thought (New York, Harper, 1943), pp. 213258, 642644, 695696; for the justification of economic inequality, pp. 633–656.

(78) Friendly, Henry J., The Federal Administrative Agencies: The Need for Better Definition of Standards (Harvard, Cambridge, 1962), for criticism of inconsistency of present standards and examples of FCC decisions, pp. 53–73; for an argument of the impossibly difficult problem of applying standards to programme content, PP. 54–56. See also Barnouw's comment: “Because programming offered no objective standards the FFC began to give special attention to technical standards, such as quality of equipment. Every station representative was pressed on technical questions […]”. (Op. cit. vol. I, p. 216).

(79) Minow, Newton, Equal Time: The Private Broadcaster and the Public Interest, ed. Laurent, Lawrence (New York, Atheneum, 1964), pp. 89; Friendly, , op. cit. pp. 5455.

(80) Barnouw, , op. cit. vol. II, p. 189; White, , op. cit. pp. 128131.

(81) Barnouw, , op. cit. vol. II, pp. 258259.

(82) See Minow, , op. cit. pp. 343, 295.

(83) See comments Barnouw, , op. cit. vol. I, p. 30.

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