DENIS McQUAIL’S MASS COMMUNICATION THEORY REVIEWED
Turiba University, 4/9/2014
Denis McQuails fifth edition Mass Communication Theory – book was dedicated to George Gerbner who was a pioneer in mass communication theory and research and helped to unite critical and empirical schools of inquiry with practical issues of media policy and social concern. In his book, McQuail begins with mass media early in twentieth century to describe what a new social phenomenon was then and key features of the emerging modernity world.
In first substantive part of the book, he provides theories which ground in the most basic and also the most general ideas about mass communication with particular reference to the many relations that exist between media and social and cultural life. Explains different kinds of theory focusing on most basic one, where a theory is a general proposition, itself based on observation and logical argument, that states the relationship between observed phenomena and seek either to explain or to predict the relation, in so far as this is possible. Concerning the theories, society and culture, his point is: “The theories part deals separately with society and culture, although the separation is artificial, since one cannot exist without the other. But by convention, society refers primarily to social relationships of all kinds, ranging from those of power and authority to friendship and family relations as well as all material aspects of life. Culture refers to ideas, beliefs, identity, symbolic expression of all kind, including language, art, information and entertainment, plus customs and rituals. There are two other components. One relates to the norms and values that apply to the conduct of media organization.”
The main chapter starts from theories, structures, organizations, content (approaches and methods) to audiences (refers to all the many sets of readers, listeners and viewers) and question of media effect, stands at the start and at the conclusion of the book and are at the centre of social and cultural concern about mass media. He mainly refer and comments on the scholars, like McLuhan, Gerbner, C.W.Mills, Meyrowitz, I.Goffman, Ellis, Giddens, Barthes, Hartley, Brants, Bird, Zoonen, Marley, Dadway, Ang, Ferguson, Williamson, Hermes, McRobbie, Fiske, Shils, Shanon, Weaver, Max Weber, Kaplan and Lewis. But I would like to cite some really debatiable statements the book has such as: “Humanistic vs. Scientific, Qualitative vs, Quantitative, Subjective vs. Objective”.
“Thus, film is a much as ever a mass culture creator”.
“Media is pressed in to the service of propaganda on behalf of ruling party elites.”
“More fears than hopes are now being voiced about the enlightenment role of major mass media, as they increasingly seek to make profits in a highly competitive marketplace where entertainment has more value than education or art.”
“Mass communication was from the beginning more of an idea than a reality.”
“Society and culture are inseparable and the one cannot exist without the other.”
“Social structure influence culture, culture influences social structure”.