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2 ways of understanding how the mass media affect the audience:
The media is powerful and their audience is passive
They see the audience as active. They use the media to meet their own
needs, selecting what they hear, see and read.
Hypodermic Syringe model:
Assumes that ideologies transmitted in mass media products are injected into the
minds of the audiences.
Vance Packard describes how people are persuaded to consume goods without
being aware of the techniques used Views the mass media as powerful that they
can inject messages into the audience like a `magic bullet', the message can be
targeted at an audience.
The audience is seen as passive, homogenous and are `blank pages' to be
The model has been criticised for implying that the audience is like a sponge
unquestionably and immediately absorbing the media message and unable to resist.
Much of the theory draws from findings in laboratory experiments, but the way in
which people behave in laboratories is very different to how they may behave in real
Twostep flow model:
The model above largely ignores the fact that people are social beings they have
families, friends and work colleagues.
Katz and Lazarfeld's influential twostep flow model emphasised the importance of
social relationships in shaping people's response to the media. They argue that
opinions are formed in social contexts.
Within this context, certain people opinion leaders are influential in shaping
the views of others. Opinion leaders are anyone who has a high status among
a group e.g. work colleague or friend.
Opinion leaders are more likely to be exposed to the media e.g. they may read more
newspapers and magazines. As a result, they are more likely to be influenced by the
media and as opinion leaders, to transmit media messages to others.
Attitudes and ideas ` flow from radio and print to opinion leaders and from the less
active sections of the population'
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This theory was largely based on research into shortterm changes in attitudes and
opinions e.g. the media presentations of election campaigns were examined in order
to discover to what extent they changed people's voting intentions. Often, such
studies showed that the media had little effect on people's opinions.…read more