The Play Theory of Mass Communication

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Transaction Publishers - Всего страниц: 225

The literature on mass communication is now dominated by "objective sociological "approaches. What makes the work of Stephenson so unusual is his starting points: his frank willingness to adopt a "subjective "and "psychological "approach to the study of mass communication. In short, this is an internal analysis of how communication processes are absorbed by individuals. The theory of play is not a doctrine of frivolity, but rather a way in which Stephenson gets at such sensitive areas of communication theory as what is screened out and why.

Without a notion of the play element in communication one would be led to imagine that every televised docudrama would be immediately lived out by every adolescent. Clearly, this is not the case. People can distinguish quite well between imaginary and real events in mass communication contexts. "The Play Theory of Mass Communication "is a work that studies subjective play, how communication serves the cause of self-enhancement and personal pleasure, and the role of entertainment as an end in itself.

In short, for those who are tired of cliche-ridden volumes on the political hidden messages and meanings of communication, or the economic management of media decisions, this volume will come as a refreshment, a piece of entertainment as well as instruction. But with all the emphasis "on "aspects, Stephenson's volume is shrewdly political. He takes up themes ranging from the reduction! of international tensions to the happily alienated worker to such pedestrian events as the reporting of foreign Soviet dignitaries in their visits to democratic cultures. This is, in short, an urbane, wise book--sophisticated in its methodology and critical in its theorizing.

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TWO NEW THEORIES OF MASS COMMUNICATION RESEARCH
1
METHODOLOGY FOR A THEORY OF MASS COMMUNICATION
13
PRINCIPLES CONCERNING AUDIENCES
33
PLAY THEORY
45
REDUCTION OF INTERNATIONAL TENSIONS
66
THEORY OF SOCIAL CHARACTER
80
NATIONAL CHARACTER AND CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP
91
THE DEMOCRATIC MYTH
100
LUDENIC THEORY OF NEWSREADING
147
KHRUSHCHEVS VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES
160
THE ARMYMCCARTHY HEARINGS
168
STUDY OF WANTS AND NEEDS
181
PLAY THEORY OF MASS COMMUNICATION BROADLY CONSIDERED
190
BIBLIOGRAPHY
207
INDEX OF NAMES
217
SUBJECT INDEX
220

HOW NATIONS SEE EACH OTHER
128
THE HAPPY ALIENATED WORKER
136

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Стр. 202 - I knew a very wise man so much of Sir Chr — 's sentiment, that he believed if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation.
Стр. xi - Play is a voluntary activity or occupation executed within certain fixed limits of time and place, according to rules freely accepted but absolutely binding, having its aim in itself and accompanied by a feeling of tension, joy and the consciousness that it is "different
Стр. 17 - The law would have been personified by the Greeks and deified, if they had known of it. It reigns with serenity and in complete self-effacement amidst the wildest confusion. The huger the mob, and the greater the apparent anarchy, the more perfect is its sway. It is the supreme law of Unreason. Whenever a large sample of chaotic elements are taken in hand and marshalled in the order of their magnitude, an unsuspected and most beautiful form of regularity proves to have been latent all along.
Стр. 17 - I know of scarcely anything so apt to impress the imagination as the wonderful form of cosmic order expressed by the " Law of Frequency of Error ". The law would have been personified by the Greeks and deified, if they had known of it. It reigns with serenity and in complete self-effacement amidst the wildest confusion.
Стр. 45 - It is my thesis that the daily withdrawal of people into the mass media in their after hours ... is a step in the existential direction, that is, a matter of subjectivity which invites freedom where there had been little or none before."13 Far from condemning the vehicles of mass media entertainment as having a "narcotizing...
Стр. 97 - The acquisition and diffusion of psychic mobility may well be the greatest characterological transformation in modern history, indeed since the rise and spread of the great world religions. It is in any case the most fundamental human factor that must be comprehended by all who plan rapid economic growth by means of rapid social change.
Стр. 45 - ... mass audience, carrying on conversations in his or her own mind, bring his or her own set of notions and experiences to bear. He pointed out that in a mass-appeal periodical, as in all advertising, "ideologies are ignored and personalities and social character are...
Стр. 55 - There is a widespread and familiar fallacy, known as the "genetic fallacy," which arises from the historical method in philosophy and criticism: the error of confusing the origin of a thing with its import, of tracing the thing to its most primitive form and then calling it "merely
Стр. 190 - that observations, and even more so observation statements and statements of experimental results, are always interpretations of the facts obser3 Conjectures and Refutations, p. 46. ved; that they are interpretations in the light of theories...
Стр. 190 - I should have emphasized ... the view that observations, and even more so observation statements and statements of experimental results, are always interpretations of the facts observed; that they are interpretations in the light of theories .' This is one of the main reasons why it is always deceptively easy to find verifications of a theory, and why we have to adopt a highly critical attitude towards our theories if we do not wish to argue in circles: the attitude of trying to refute them.

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