ERIC Number: ED221909
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Nov
Reference Count: 0
The Historical Origins of Mass Communication Research in Our Field.
Becker, Samuel L.
The seeds of mass communication research in broadcasting were extracurricular, not academic, inspired by experimental campus radio stations. Prior to the mid-1930s, radio research was scarce. Until World War II, radio speech was the most important topic, followed by articles on how to use radio for improving instruction. There are three increasingly likely explanations for this narrowness of scope: (1) teachers viewed broadcasting in terms of public address rather than from a theory of behavior, (2) speech was just establishing itself as a legitimate field, and (3) the idea of programatic research was alien to departments of speech. As a result, most early scholarship on broadcasting and communication was done in other departments. Paul Lazarsfeld's development of panel analysis and uses and gratifications studies and Robert Park's and George Gallup's work in public opinion research were especially important early influences. Motion picture research lagged well behind broadcasting research, but it too was influenced by earlier work outside the field, particularly literary and art theory. The disillusionment with mass communication research in the 1950s mirrors the disillusionment with the power of mass media itself. Marshall McLuhan's controversial work in the 1960s rekindled widespread interest in broadcasting research. (JL)
Publication Type: Historical Materials; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Gallup (Poll); Lazarsfeld (Paul); McLuhan (Marshall); Park (Robert)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (68th, Louisville, KY, November 4-7, 1982).