We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Mass Communication Theory

Foundations, Ferment, and Future

Eighth Edition

Stanley J. Baran and Dennis K. Davis

Publication Date - January 2020

ISBN: 9780190942793

464 pages

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $63.99

The most trusted, comprehensive, and contemporary introduction to mass communication theory


Accessible, balanced, and enhanced by vivid examples and graphics, this market-leading text has introduced thousands of young scholars to the discipline over two decades. Mass Communication Theory: Foundations, Ferment, and Future, Eighth Edition, provides a complete and detailed overview of mass communication theory to the present, offering thorough, up-to-date, and effective coverage of both social science and cultural theories.

New to this Edition

  • A revised definition of mass communication that incorporates new large-scale social media
  • New discussions of meaning making, framing, and deep mediatization; Big Data; intersectionality in critical research and theory; the obsolescence of the First Amendment; hate speech and propaganda; challenged norms of journalism in the Trump era; and declining respect for journalism
  • New material on the Selective Exposure Self and Affect-Management (SESAM) Model
  • New coverage of social media, including discussions of social network sites and selective processes, parental mediation, problematic use and addiction, and Facebook depression
  • Discussions of media and rape culture; selective perception of African Americans and crime and police shootings; Gamergate and "the manosphere"; and much more


  • Featuring vivid examples and graphics, this market-leading textbook offers the most comprehensive and authoritative introduction to mass communication theory available
  • Traces the emergence of three trends in media theory: mass society/propaganda, social/behavioral, and critical/cultural

About the Author(s)

Stanley J. Baran is Professor of Communication at Bryant University. He has won numerous teaching awards, including the AMOCO Teaching Excellence Award as the best instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and the College of Communication's Teaching Excellence Award as that college's outstanding professor. At San Jose State University he was named President's Scholar as the university's outstanding researcher.

Dennis K. Davis is Professor Emeritus of Communication at Penn State University. His teaching and research center on mass communication theory, new media literacy, international communication, research methods, and political communication. He has headed divisions of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the National Communication Association.


"The new edition of Mass Communication Theory recasts old theories in the contexts of new technology and globalization. It also explores the possibility of integrating theories originally generated in different paradigms into new forms."--Koji Fuse, University of North Texas

"This is a well-organized, engaging, and effectively updated textbook on mass communication theory and effects. It has been updated well in light of social media and the influence of political leaders on conceptions of mass communication and the role of journalists in particular."--Megan Hopper, Illinois State University

Table of Contents

    Each chapter opens with Learning Objectives and an Overview and ends with a Review of Learning Objectives and Critical Thinking Questions.
    Chapter 1. Understanding and Evaluating Mass Communication Theory
    Defining and Redefining Mass Communication
    Science and Human Behavior
    Defining Theory
    Postpositivist Theory
    Cultural Theory
    Critical Theory
    Normative Theory

    Evaluating Theory
    Flexible Social Science
    Mass Communication Theory
    Four Trends in Media Theory
    The Mass Society and Mass Culture Trend in Mass Communication Theory
    The Media-Effects Trend in Mass Communication Theory
    The Critical Cultural Trend in Mass Communication Theory
    The Meaning-Making Trend in Mass
    Communication Theory
    Revitalized Effects Research
    Chapter 2. Establishing the Terms of the Debate over Media: The First Trend in Mass Communication Theory--Mass Society and Mass Culture Theories
    Mass Society Critics and the Debate over Media
    Assumptions of Mass Society Theory
    Early Examples of Mass Society Theory
    Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
    Mechanical and Organic Solidarity
    Mass Society Theory in Contemporary Times
    The Origin of Propaganda
    Propaganda Comes to the United States
    Harold Lasswell's Propaganda Theory
    Walter Lippmann's Theory of Public Opinion Formation
    Reaction against Early Propaganda Theory
    Modern Propaganda Theory
    Libertarianism Reborn and Challenged
    Chapter 3. Normative Theories of Mass Communication
    The Origin of Normative Theories of Media
    The Origin of Libertarian Thought on Communication
    The Marketplace of Ideas: A New Form of Radical Libertarianism

    Government Regulation of Media
    Professionalization of Journalism
    Social Responsibility Theory of the Press: A Postwar Compromise
    Using Social Responsibility Theory to Guide Professional Practice
    Limits of Professionalization
    The Dual Responsibility Model
    Is There Still a Role for Social Responsibility Theory?
    The Public Interest in the Internet Era
    Other Normative Theories
    Chapter 4. The Emergence of the Media-Effects Trend in Mass Communication Theory
    The Development of the Postpositivist Effects Trend
    From Propaganda Research to Attitude-Change Theories
    Carl Hovland and the Experimental Section
    The Communication Research Program
    Do Mass Media Influence the Way People Vote?
    The Strengths and Limitations of the Effects Trend in Media Research
    The Selective Processes

    Chapter 5. The Consolidation of the Media-Effects Trend
    Theories of the Middle Range and the Rise of the Functional Analysis Approach
    Information-Flow Theory
    Personal Influence: The Two-Step Flow Theory
    Joseph Klapper's Phenomenistic Theory
    The Entertainment Function of Mass Media
    Systems Theories of Communication Processes
    The Rise of Systems Theories
    Modeling Systems
    Applying Systems Models to Human Communication
    Adoption of
    Systems Models by Mass Communication Theorists
    Functionalism's Unfulfilled Promise
    Chapter 6. The Emergence of The Critical Cultural Trend in North America
    Changing Times
    The Critical Cultural Theory Trend
    Macroscopic Versus Microscopic Theories
    Critical Theory
    Comparing the Media Theory Trends
    The Rise of Cultural Theories in Europe
    Marxist Theory
    Textual Analysis and Literary Criticism
    The Frankfurt School
    Development of Neo-Marxist Theory in Britain
    Political Economy Theory
    The Debate between Cultural Studies and Political Economy Theorists
    Cultural Studies: Transmissional Versus Ritual Perspectives
    Research on Popular Culture in the United States
    Research on News Production in the
    United States
    Critical Feminist Scholarship
    Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Message and the Massage
    Harold Innis: The Bias of Communication
    McLuhan: Understanding Media
    Chapter 7. Theories of Media and Social Learning
    Focus on Children and Violence
    Television Violence Theories
    Social Learning Theory
    Social Cognition from Mass Media
    Aggressive Cues
    The Context of Mediated Violence
    Active Theory of Television Viewing
    The Developmental Perspective
    Video Games Reignite Interest in Media Violence
    The General Aggression Model
    Chapter 8. Theories of Media and Human Development
    Media and Children's Development
    Gender Issues
    Advertising to Children
    Loss of
    Growing Up Connected: New Personal Technologies and Development
    Social Media and Well-Being
    Chapter 9. Audience Theories: Uses and Reception
    Audience Theories: From Source-Dominated to Active-Audience Perspectives
    Limitations of Early Audience-Centered Research
    Confusion of Media Functions and Media Uses
    Revival of the Uses-and-Gratifications Approach
    The Active Audience Revisited
    Entertainment Theory
    Uses-and-Gratifications and Social Networking
    Development of Reception Studies: Decoding and Sensemaking
    Feminist Reception Studies
    Chapter 10. Theories of Media Cognition and Information Processing
    Information-Processing Theory
    Processing Television News
    Schema Theory
    Hostile Media Effect
    Elaboration Likelihood Model
    Narrative Persuasion Theory and the Extended Elaboration Likelihood Model
    Health Communication
    The Delay Hypothesis
    Affective Intelligence, Motivated Reasoners, and the Backfire Effect
    The Neuroscience Perspective
    Chapter 11. Theories of the Effect of Media on Knowledge, Information, and Perception of Social Issues
    Knowledge Gaps, Digital Divides, and Digital Inequalities
    Information (Innovation) Diffusion Theory
    Social Marketing Theory
    Agenda-Setting, Priming, and Agenda-Building
    The Spiral of Silence
    Chapter 12. Theories of the Effect of Media on Community And Everyday Culture
    Media and Social Capital/Community Research
    Cultivation Analysis
    The Products of Cultivation Analysis
    Media Literacy
    Elements and Assumptions of Media Literacy
    Media Literacy Interventions

    Chapter 13. Media and Culture Theories: Meaning Making in the Social World
    Symbolic Interactionism
    Pragmatism and the Chicago School
    Current Applications of Symbolic Interactionism

    Social Constructionism
    Framing and Frame Analysis
    The Development of Theories of Frames and Framing
    Effects of Frames on News Audiences
    Postpositivist vs Critical Cultural Approaches to Framing
    Chapter 14. Media and Culture Theories: Commodification of Culture and Mediatization

    Media as Culture Industries: The Commodification of Culture
    Commodification of Culture in the Age of Social Media
    Advertising: The Ultimate Cultural Commodity

    Mediatization Theory

Related Titles