ERIC Number: ED155771
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978
Reference Count: 0
The Limits of Functional Analysis in the Study of Mass Communication.
Anderson, James A.; Meyer, Timothy P.
The fundamental limits of the functional approach to the study of mass communication are embodied in two of its criticisms. The first weakness is in its logical structure and the second involves the limits that are set by known methods. Functional analysis has difficulties as a meaningful research perspective because the process of mass communication is unusually complex; it does not meet the rigorous assumption of linearity in causal relationships that is essential to establishing the rules in the functional model. Functional analysis, therefore, as it applies to the operation of the mass media as a social system, is useful in only a limited sense. It gives an explanation for the major components of a system, how the information flows within the system, and how influence within and between components operates. The uses and gratifications approach can clarify some of the limitations of the functional approach, but some questions must still be answered before the utility of the uses and gratifications theory can be estimated. Functional aealysis and uses and gratifications theory have explained some of the effects that can occur, but little is known about the range of uses and gratifications that do occur. Although the sociology of communication has been essentially functionalist to date, it is time to look elsewhere. (JF)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Communication Association (Chicago, Illinois, April 25-29, 1978)