Has EITHER the television OR the radio had any decisive 'influence' on everyday life during the last

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Has EITHER the television OR the radio had any decisive 'influence' on everyday life during the last

Media are channels through which information is transmitted. The media includes: television, radio, films, videos, computers, books, and magazines.Janowitz (1968) states that: "mass communications comprise the institutions and techniques by which specialized groups employ technological devices (press, radio, television, radio, films, etc.) to disseminate symbolic content to large, heterogenous, and widely dispersed audiences." Mass communications are uniquely a feature of modern society; their development has accompanied an increase in the scale and complexity of societal activities and arrangements, rapid social change, technological innovation, rising personal income and standard of life, the decline of some traditional forms of control and authority. There is an association between the development of mass media and social change, although the degree and direction of this association is still unknown. Many of the consequences, either harmful or beneficial, which have been attributed to mass communications are almost certainly due to other tendencies in society. Few sociologists would deny the importance of mass communication as a major factor in the production and distribution of social knowledge and social imagery in modern societies. Whether television or radio has had a decisive influence on everyday life has been questioned by sociologists, psychologists and many other professions.


The mass media provide an instrument for influencing people both more powerful and more flexible than any previously existing. Therefore, controls are placed on those operating mass communications, to ensure that laws and social norms are abided by. Technological determinists argue that the media play an important part in modern society, whereas empiricists or pluralists believe that social pressures overrule any independent effect.


"Propaganda, propaganda, propaganda," Hitler said after the unsuccessful Munich putsch in 1923. "All that matters is propaganda." The Nazis were fascinated with the improvements in technology and mass communication in the USA and Britain. They saw radio as a means of demagogy. When Hitler came to power in 1933, a group of 'Frankfurt School' writers argued that the roots of the fascist or 'authoritarian' personality were to be found in the the nature of the family. However, in explaining what made a population potentially fascist, or why there was no revolt before the Nazis regime began to use widespread force, they also saw the press, radio, films, and even comics and popular music as reinforcing these early influences. The new mass media strengthened the habits and attitudes which made people susceptible to fascist arguments.


By the 1920's a generation of reformers who had been civil servants during the war were experienced in organising the centralised distribution of resources. For a brief period after the war the government accepted a more interventionist role. The BBC was formed in 1922. John Reith, the Director General of the BBC was tested during the General Strike in 1926. He knew that the survival of the Corporation depended on its conduct during the crisis. The strike created a national audience for broadcasting, and although there were only two million license holders these represented a far greater number of listeners, and the 'communal listening' was a feature of the crisis as people gathered in halls and outside shops to hear the news. This shows that the public's everyday life had already been affected by the increased use of radios. During the General Strike the radio had a strong influnce on the general public due to the government's intervention of the issues transmitted on the radio. In 1935 it was supposed to include talks by a communist and a fascist - Harry Pollitt and Sir Oswald Mosley, in a series on the British constitution. The Foreign Office protested, arguing that Pollitt could not be allowed to broadcast as he had recently made a speech supporting armed revolution. The BBC responded by referring the matter to the Governors, who declared that, "More harm than good could be done if a policy were adopted of muzzling speeches." A BBC official told the Foreign Office, "We can't chuck Pollitt unless, under our charter, we are given instruction from the government that he is not to broadcast." Eventually, the Postmaster General wrote to Reith pointing out that as the Corporation licence was due for renewal, it would be wiser to comply with government demands. The BBC was not even allowed to state why the interview was cancelled. The information that the public received from the radio was therefore biased towards the government, and the "whole picture" was not heard by the listeners.

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John Reith also tried to use his control of broadcasting technology to wield great moral power over the nation. Being a Scottish Calvinist engineer, he wanted programmes to elevate and educate listeners, and this moral influence was directed especially at the family as a cohesive social form. Previously, solitary men sat with their headphones on, listening to the wireless. The BBC transformed these listening habits, and the radio became the focal point of family life, with the entire family listening to it most nights. The BBC gained the reputation as an essential institution of state.


The influence of ...

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