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Social Effects of Mass Communication Essay

The Source. The source, or sender, initiates the communication process by having a thought or an idea that he or she wishes to transmit to some other entity. Sources can be individuals, groups, or organizations.

Encoding the message. Encoding refers to all the activities that a source goes through to translate thoughts and ideas into a form that can be perceived by the senses. It can take place one or more times in any given communication event. In a face-to-face conversation, the speaker encodes thoughts into words; if a telephone is used, it subsequently encodes sound waves into electrical energy.

Message. The message is the actual physical product that the source encodes which may range from the short, simple and inexpensive to the long, complex and costly. Humans usually have a large number and wide range of messages at their disposal that they can choose to send. Messages can be directed to an individual or to millions. Channels. Channels refer to the ways in which the message travels to the receiver. These include sound waves, light waves, air currents, and touch. Some messages may go through multiple channels.

Receiving the Message
Decoding the message. The decoding process is the opposite of the encoding process. It’s the process by which a message is translated into a form the receiver can understand. Both people and machines can be message decoders. Some messages can involve many decoding stages.

Receiver. The receiver is the target of the message. The target can be an individual, a group, or an anonymous collection of people. Receivers can be targeted for a message (a phone call) or they can self-select themselves (choosing which TV show to watch). Receivers and senders can be in immediate contact or they can be separated by space and time.

Feedback. Feedback refers to responses from the receiver that shape and alter the subsequent messages from the source. Feedback represents the reversal of the communication flow (source becomes receiver; receiver becomes source). It answers the source’s unstated question, “How am I doing?”

positive feedback encourages the current communication behavior

negative feedback tries to change the communication or even terminate it

feedback can be immediate or delayed

Noise. Noise is anything that interferes with the delivery of the message.
Three types of noise are:

Refer to page 4 – you should be able to fill in the blanks in the diagram above.

Mass Communication
Mass Communication is the process by which a complex organization, with the aid of one or more machines, produces and transmits public messages directed at large, heterogeneous and scattered audiences. The differences between machine-assisted interpersonal and mass communication aren’t that clear, especially when considering the Internet and the Web.

Functions of Mass Communication for Society (Macroanalysis) For society to exist, certain communication needs must be met. These needs existed long before the advent of mass media. As society became larger, these functions became too large to be handled by single individuals. We should consider the consequences of performing these communication functions via the mass media. Some of these consequences are harmful or negative and are called dysfunctions. Media functions are not mutually exclusive; any given example of media content may serve multiple functions.

You should be able to define how all of the various media we use (blogs, social websites, TV, movies, radio, newspapers, etc.) can function in each of the following manners:

Surveillance. Refers to the role media play in relaying news and information. There are two main types.

Warning or beware surveillance: occurs when the mass media warn us about impending dangers such as storms, economic declines, military threats, etc.; also used to warn of long-term dangers such as diseases, pollution, population growth, etc.

Instrumental surveillance: the transmission of information that is useful and helpful in everyday life such as movie schedules, stock quotes, sports scores, fads, new products, how-to pieces, etc. Not all examples of surveillance occur in the news media; instrumental surveillance often comes from a wide variety of other media sources.

There are several consequences of relying on the mass media for surveillance:

news (accurate accounts as well as mistaken ones) travels faster than ever

news of events comes to us second-hand and is usually not personally verifiable; as such, we’ve come to place our trust in media, or grant the media credibility

as a dysfunction, media surveillance can create unnecessary anxiety

Interpretation. This refers to the role media play in giving meaning and significance to events. Gatekeepers provide interpretations, comments, analyses, and opinions on various events to give the audience a better understanding of the events’ relative importance to society.

There are several consequences of relying on the mass media for interpretation:

audiences are exposed to a wide range of often contrasting viewpoints

this allows us to weigh all sides of an issue before deciding on our position

it also gives us a greater depth of expertise upon which to draw conclusions

there is no guarantee that media interpretations are accurate or valid

individuals could become overly dependent on media interpretation and lose the ability to analyze situations or think for themselves

Linkage. Media can bring together various elements of society that are not directly connected. The linkage can be based on common interests, or on matching wants with needs. Examples of linkages are Internet outlets such as eBay, WebMD,, and The media can build totally new groups by linking people with similar interests.

Another potential dysfunction of relying on the mass media for interpretation:

Sometimes the linkage function can have harmful consequences, such as hate groups’ and terrorists’ use of the Internet.

Transmission of Values (socialization). This refers to ways in which an individual comes to adopt the behavior and values of a group. Individuals exposed to media portrayals of certain types of behavior and value systems are likely to grow up and accept them as their own, and thus pass along these values from one generation to another.

Mass Media and socialization. There are several consequences of relying on the mass media for socialization:

it helps stabilize society by creating common bonds between members in terms of shared values and experiences

the values and cultural information presented in the media are usually selected by large groups that encourage the status quo

the media can also transmit values by enforcing social norms

TV and socialization. Television may play a special role in socialization. Of all mass media, television has the greatest potential for establishing common social values. By age 18, the average person has spent more time watching TV than doing anything else except sleep. Dysfunctions can occur if youngsters watching violent content are socialized into accepting violence as a means of problem solving. It is argued that many

TV images of minority groups reflect the stereotypes held by white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males.
Entertainment. The importance of this media function has grown as Americans have more leisure time. Motion pictures and sound recordings are devoted primarily to entertainment
There are several consequences of relying on the mass media for socialization:

most entertainment content is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of taste

it is quite easy to sit back and let others entertain you; critics believe that the mass media will turn Americans into a nation of watchers instead of a nation of doers

Your Media Project
You should be able to provide a thoughtful critique of your media campaign for the Dubai CDA, explaining how well you think the media you chose would work to promote awareness of the particular branch of the CDA you were asked to represent.

Essay Topics:

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