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March 1995, Week 5


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Ulf Dalquist <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 31 Mar 1995 18:50:18 CST
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
jajasoon tlitteu wrote:
>Why is it that so many people seem to equate the questioning of
>"scientific" methods and conclusions with being a pawn of the "culture
>industries"?  I'm assuming that the first writer is referring to criticism
>done in Cultural Studies which suggests that viewers don't simply absorb
>material from the media verbatum and spoonfed but rather negotiate and
>interact with a text to create their own readings and "effects."  This type
>of popular efficacy and agency seems to intimidate many people who are
>convinced that the media "affect" people and that they (i.e. academics) are
>the only folks who are capable of separate themselves from these effects to
>study them objectively.  Why does popular power make the social science
>types squirm?  Threaten that grant money much?
I'm not just referring to the cultural studies perspective. There are actually
researchers within the mass communication paradigm that are highly critical of
the media effect studies conducted. Excellent overviews are provided by:
Howitt, D & Cumberbatch, G (1975) Mass Media Violence and Society. London: Elek
Cumberbatch, G & Howitt, D (1989) A Measure of Uncertainty. London: John Libbey.
Freedman, J (1984) Effects of Television Violence and Aggressiveness.
Psychological Bulletin No 2, Vol 96.
Interestingly, the biggest and most thorough media effects study ever conducted,
presented in  Milavsky et al's Television and Aggression show no causal
connection whatsoever between violent media and personal aggression. The mass
communication studies establishments reactions on this study was:
1. Questioning the validity, since the study was partially funded by
broadcasters, the old guilt-by-association thing.
2. Claimed that the researchers misinterpreted their data. Apparently they ought
to have treated statistically non-significant findings as if they were
significant (sic!).
It's a weird world.
Ulf Dalquist                Phone:  +46 46 104266
Dept. of Sociology          Fax:    +46 46 104794
Box 114 221 00 Lund SWEDEN  E-mail: [log in to unmask]