Mass communication – the systematic distribution of information (through print, radio, television, film, sound recording, and video recording) in order to establish the spiritual values of the society and provide the ideological, political, economic or organizational influence on evaluations, opinions, and behavior of people. In fact, this is a definition of mass communication. Keep reading to learn more.
History of mass communication
Mass communication is the process of information spreading on the large scattered audience with the help of technical means. The first mass media was a print media. Its tasks have been changed over the time. So, in XVI-XVII centuries the authoritarian theory of the press dominated, in the XVII century – there was the theory of the free press, in the nineteenth century the priorities changed and since those times the press began serving for some certain circles of social class.
Printing, from the point of view of the information perception, is more difficult in comparison with television or radio. Newspapers are less operational, reading the newspaper requires a certain intellectual effort. But its advantage is that newspaper can be read almost everywhere. According to opinion polls, in the morning, the preferred means of mass communication is radio, as in the shortage of time it creates a background, gives information and does not distract from affairs. In the evening, television is preferable since it is the easiest way from the point of view of perception.
The emergence and development of technical means of communication led to the formation of a new social space of mass society. This society is characterized by the presence of specific means of mass communication. The rapid development of which in the twentieth century led to a change of attitude, transformation, “dehumanization” of culture, the formation of a new virtual world of communication. It took a theoretical understanding of the mass media phenomenon.
Theories of mass communication
In theory, two main areas of mass communication were singled out:
- Human-oriented approach, which supported the model of the minimum effect. The essence of this approach is that people rather adapt media to their needs and demands than communication media dominate people.
- Media-oriented approach. This approach is based on the fact that man is subjected to the effects of mass communication. It affects a person strongly, so it is impossible to resist. The most prominent representative of this approach is Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980).
Supporters of the human – oriented approach came from the fact that people selectively perceive incoming information. They choose the information that coincides with their opinion and reject the one that does not fit.
G. McLuhan was the first who drew attention to the role of the mass media, especially television, in shaping consciousness, regardless of the message content. On this basis, he concluded that the message sent by the communication medium is the tool itself. According to McLuhan, television is not a tube through which you can pass all that pleasing. During the transfer technical means are not neutral, they pursue their own goals.
Television, collecting on the screen all the times and spaces at once, pushes them in the minds of the viewers, giving the importance of the mundane. Drawing attention to what has already happened, TV informs the audience about the end result. This creates in the minds of the viewers the illusion that the demonstration of the action leads to this result. It turns out that the reaction precedes action.
The efficiency of information perception is influenced by the life experience of the viewer, memory, and speed of perception as well as social setup. As a result, the TV has a great influence on the spatial-temporal organization of perception. Mass communication begins in the mind of a person and acts as the root cause, granting the validity of the information. So, mass communication constructs the ‘reality’.
Mass media, therefore, forms a mythological space. Basing on this, McLuhan promotes the myth as the most natural way of perceiving the world by a person, living in the context of the electronic environment. The television generation takes the belief for granted. This generation believes that mass communication is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. Through the media, a consumer is imbued with the illusion of his own exclusivity, permeability, enlightenment. The television generation, according to G.McLuhan, on the one hand, is the creator of the present, and on the other – its victim.
G. McLuhan’s task was to investigate the role of mass communication and to understand the development of culture elements as the totality of communication means. The change of eras was considered as a revolution in cultural development and as the change of communication types. New means of communication McLuhan understood as a technological continuation of the human body, which has the opposite effect on humans.
The whole touch balance – the ratio of the senses in the perception of reality, life style, values, forms of social organization has been completely changed. The tribal man era was characterized by constraining communication in the form of oral speech, a merge of words and deeds. So, the spread of printing led to the triumph of visual perception, the formation of national languages and states, the industrial revolution.
As a result, a narrow specialization of people appeared. The industrial man appeared, exposed to mass communication. The modern age, according to McLuhan, begins with the advent of electricity. With the help of mass communication electricity instantly connects people to the global education space, where everything is interconnected.
Any member of the fellowship has the ability to communicate with an unlimited number of recipients. The media begins to perform the functions of ideological, political influence, organization, information, education, entertainment, maintenance of the social community.