Media Effects and Public Opinion - Shlossberg

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Pavel Shlossberg

This seminar will examine major scientific, humanistic, and historical approaches to studying media effects and public opinion. Special attention will be paid to scholarship both from and about the United States and Latin America/Mexico. We will review both seminal studies and recent research. Consideration will be given to how approaches including agenda setting, framing, ritual communication, technological analysis, political economy, ideological analysis and reception studies, help us understand the relationship between media, politics, popular culture, and their links to issues of social identity (race, class, gender), power, inequality, order and social change, democracy and authoritarianism. We will also examine how debates about media effects have been translated and transformed in the context of movement across borders in the Americas. The seminar is suitable for individuals seeking an introduction to the field and for advanced students who might want to develop and present work in progress.

Course Objectives

  • Familiarize yourself with the history and development of research on media effects/public opinion and understand how that context influences research and practice today
  • Demonstrate your ability to use, evaluate, and apply various theoretical perspectives and diverse methodologies to inquiry about media effects/public opinion in written work and class presentations
  • Demonstrate the ability to describe, evaluate and extend some of the major programs of research and selected methodologies in inquiry about media effects in written work and class presentations
  • Increase your ability to articulate clear and coherent claims about media effects/public opinion and apply knowledge to illustrate the practical value of theorizing in written and oral work.
  • Enhance your ability to explain the value of research about media effects/public opinion to audiences in career contexts of your choice.



  • 1968 Olympics, Mexico City: Black Power Salute
  • H.G. Wells Radio Broadcast: War of the Worlds

2: Media and Public Opinion (Historical Roots)

  • John Durham Peters, “Historical Tensions in the Concept of Public Opinion,” In T. Glasser and C. Salmon, Public Opinion and the Communication of Consent (pp. 3-27)
  • James W. Carey, “The Chicago School and Mass Communication Research,” in E. Dennis and E. Wartella (eds.), American Communication Research—The Remembered History (pp. 21-37)
  • Walter Lippmann, “The World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads,” Public Opinion (pp. 3-20)
  • John Dewey, “The Eclipse of the Public” The Public and Its Problems (pp. 110-142)

3: Scientific Persuasion Research: The 2-Step Flow and Limited Effects

  • D. Czitrom, “The Rise of Empirical Media Study: Communications Research as Behavioral Science, 1930-1960,” Media and the American Mind: From Morse to McLuhan (pp. 122-146)
  • S. Chaffee and J. Hochhemimer, “The Beginnings of Political Communication Research in the United States: Origins of the Limited Effects Model,” In M. Gurevitch and M. Levy (eds.), Mass Communication Review Yearbook Volume 5 (pp. 75-101)
  • G. Balas, Video project. "The Long Road to Decatur: A History of Personal Influence."
  • J. Klapper, selections, The Effects of Mass Communications

4: Cognitive Approaches I: Agenda Setting

  • M. McCombs, L. Danielian, and W. Wanta, “Issues in the News and the Public Agenda: the Agenda-Setting Tradition, in T. Glasser and C. Salmon, Public Opinion and the Communication of Consent (pp. 281-297)
  • M. McCombs and Amy Reynolds, “How the News Shapes Our Civic Agenda,” in J. Bryant and M. Oliver, Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research (pp. 1-13)
  • D. Graber, Part II (selections), Media Power in Politics

5: Cognitive Approaches II: Framing, Priming, Cultivation

  • J. Beniger, J. Gusek, “The Cognitive Revolution in Public Opinion and Communication Research,” in T. Glasser and C. Salmon, Public Opinion and the Communication of Consent (pp. 217-236)
  • D. Tewksbury, d. Scheufele, “News Framing Theory and Research,” in J. Bryant and M. Oliver, Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research (pp. 17-30)
  • J. Enrique Huerta Wong, “Cultivation or Resistance? Testing Gender Perceptions of TV Viewers in Mexico,” Zer 2007 (pp. 27-40)
  • R. Entam, S. Rojecki: selections, The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America

6: Cultural Studies I: Ideology and Hegemony

  • R. Williams, “Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory,” in C. Mukerji, M. Schudson, Rethinking Popular Culture: Contemporary Perspectives in Cultural Studies (pp. 407-423)
  • S. Hall, “The Rediscovery of Ideology: Return of the Repressed in Media Studies,” in M . Gurevitch, T. Bennett, J. Curran, J. Woollacott, Culture, Society, and the Media (pp. 56-88)
  • F. Fejes, “Critical Mass Communications and Media Effects: The Problem of the Disappearing Audience,” in M. Gurevitch, M. Levy, Mass Communication Review Yearbook (Vol. 5) (pp. 517-528)
  • T. Gitlin, selections, The Whole World is Watching: Mass Media in the Making & Unmaking of the New Left.

7: Cultural Studies II: Polysemy and Reception

  • S. Livingstone, “The Rise and Fall of Audience Research: An Old Story With a New Ending,” in Journal of Communication 43:3 (pp. 5-11)
  • D. Morley, “Active Audience Theory: Pendulums and Pitfalls,” in Journal of Communication 43:3 (pp. 13-18)
  • M. Beltran, “The Hollywood Latina Body as Site of Social of Social Struggle: Media Constructions of Stardom and Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Cross-Over Butt,’” Quarterly Review of Film & Video (pp. 71-84)
  • H Jenkins III, “Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching,” in H. Newcomb, Television: The Critical View (pp.
  • J. Gamson, selections, Freaks Talk Back: Talbloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity

8: Ritual Communication

  • J. Alexander, R. Jacobs, “Mass Communication, Ritual, and Civil Society,” in T. Liebes, J. Curran, Media, Ritual and Identity (pp. 23-38)
  • D. Dayan, E. Katz, “Defining Media Events: High Holidays of Mass Communication,” in H. Newcomb, Television: The Critical View (pp. 332-346)
  • J. Carey, “Political Ritual on Television: Episodes in the History of Shame, Degradation and Excommunication,” in T. Liebes, J. Curran, Media, Ritual and Identity (pp. 42-67)
  • R. Marchi, selections, Day of the Dead in the USA: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenon

9: Classic Diffusion of Innovations Research and Modernization Theory (LA)

  • E. Katz, M. Levin, H. Hamilton, “Traditions of Research on the Diffusion of Innovations, American Sociological Review 28, (pp. 237-252)
  • D. Lerner, “Modernizing Styles of Life,” The Passing of Traditional Society (pp. 52-68)
  • P. Deutschmann, H. Ellingsworth, selections, Communication and Social Change in Latin America: Introducing New Technology
  • J. Ingham, “Syncretism and Social Meanings: An Overview,” Mary, Michael, and Lucifer: Folk Catholicism in Central Mexico

10: Dependency & Cultural Imperialism (LA)

  • L. Beltran, “Alien Premises, Objects, and Methods in Latin American Communication Research,” in E.M. Rogers, Communication and Development: Critical Perspectives (15-42)
  • H. Schiller, “Cultural Domination: Sources, Contexts, and Current Styles, Communication and Cultural Domination
  • A. Mattleart, D. Polan, “The Nature of Communications Practice in a Dependent Society,” Latin American Perspectives 5:1 (pp.13-34)
  • N. Garcia-Canclini, “Fiesta and History: To Celebrate, to Remember, to Sell,” Transforming Modernity: Popular Culture in Mexico

11: Mediation, Reception, and Popular Culture (LA)

  • R. Huesca, “Theory and Practice in Latin American Alternative Communication Research,” Journal of Communication 44:4 (pp. 53-67)
  • P. Schlesinger, “Editorial,” Media Culture Society 10 (pp. 395-403)
  • N. Garcia Canclini, “Culture and Power: the State of Research,” Media Culture Society 10 (pp. 467-495
  • J. Martin Barbero, “Identities: Traditions and New Communities,” Media Culture Society 24 (pp.621-639)

12: Media and the Negotiation of Social Identity (LA)

  • J. Pilcher, selections, Cantinflas and the Chaos of Mexican Modernity
  • E. Zolov, selections, Refried Elvis: The Rise of the Mexican Counterculture
  • A. Rubenstein, selections, Bad Language, Naked Ladies, and Other Threats to the Nation: A Political History of Comic Books in Mexico
  • J. Hershfeld, Imagining la Chica Moderna: Women, Nation, and Visual Culture in Mexico: 1917-1936

13: Media and Democratization (LA)

  • D. Hallin, “Broadcasting in the Third World: From National Development to Civil Society,” in T. Liebes, J. Curran, Media, Ritual and Identity (pp. 153-166)
  • S. Waisbord, selections, Watchdog Journalism in Latin America
  • S. Hughes, selections, Newsrooms in Conflict: Journalism and the Democratization of Mexico
  • C. Matos, selections, Journalism and Political Democracy in Brazil

14: Indigenous Media (LA)

  • J. Francisco Salazar, “Indigenous Video and Policy Contexts in Latin America,” MCP 5 (pp. 125-130)
  • F. Ginsburg, “Rethinking the Digital Age,” in P. Wilson, M. Stewart, Global Indigenous Media: Culture, Poetics, and Politics. (pp. 287-304)
  • J. Manuel Ramos Rodriguez, “Indigenous Radio Stations in Mexico: A Catalyst for Social Cohesion and Cultural Strength,” The Radio Journal—International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media (pp. 155-167)
  • J. Himpele, selections, Circuits of Culture: Media. Politics, and Indigenous Identity in the Andes

15: Term Project Presentations

16: Term Project Presentations