Introduction

Few areas of inquiry have expanded as rapidly as the study of the media over the last twenty years. Dominated in the late 1950s by the positivist canons of American social science, the settled view of the media which then obtained has since been profoundly challenged by a series of successive theoretical influences derived, in the main, from deviance theory, linguistics, structuralism and semiology, discourse theory (especially of late) and, perhaps most critically, from the debates in and around the area of ideology that have taken place within Marxism over the same period. Not all of these influences, however, have pulled in the same direction so that, whilst many of the orthodoxies of earlier stages in the history of mass communications ...

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