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The Mass Media in Liberal Democratic Societies

The Mass Media in Liberal Democratic Societies
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Edited book , Index , Bibliography
$24.95 (18.71)
Advances in communication technology, especially global television, are rapidly promoting global awareness. This point was driven home with Tiananmen Square, the demise of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War, and the collapse of communism in the USSR. While a great impact has been made by the media on the modern world, its effect, and its responsibilities are vaguely understood and widely debated.

This book provides a general introduction to the role of mass media, including news media, television, and motion pictures, in liberal democratic societies. It follows the rise of mass media in liberal democracies from the freedom of the press enshrined in the United States constitution to recent dramatic events shown world wide in television and motion pictures.

What effects does the media have on. children raised in the age of television? How has television affected the commitment to religion, labor parties, political parties, and other traditional influences on one’s life? Does the media shape public opinion or reflect it?

The Mass Media draws on studies primarily from the United States, but includes Germany and Israel, to explain to the college student and interested general reader what the issues are. It discusses, with careful documentation, media reporting on specific issues, such as Nicaragua, the environment, nuclear energy, and intelligence testing. Then, it discusses the social and political assumptions evident in the media. Chapter nine contains the most detailed study ever completed on the changing content of prime time television drama from 1950 to the present. One important conclusion of the research presented is that, in the United States, television and motion pictures, which generally supported traditional values in the 1950’s, have, since the 1970’s, often reversed their positions on sexuality, religion, business, and politics.

The concluding chapter by W. Phillips Davison, a founder of mass communication studies, makes some predictions about the impact of mass media in the United States and has wise reflections that should stimulate serious rethinking about the problems of mass media in liberal democratic societies.

STANLEY ROTHMAN is the Mary Huggins Gamble Professor of Government at Smith College and Director of the Center for the Study of Social and Political Change.

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