Mass Media


University of California, Los Angeles, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs165

Mass media have been a core social institution throughout modern history and in contemporary life. The term “mass media” refers to an array of technological systems, industries, cultural forms, and practices of production and consumption characterized by the transmission of information from a few producers to large groups of consumers. Technologically, mass media include the printing press, telegraphy, telephony, music recording, film projection, radio and television transmission systems, and the World Wide Web or internet. Cultural forms associated with mass media include cinema, recorded popular music, newspapers, broadcast journalism, popular literature, television programming, video games, computer software, and advertisements.


Mass media enable information and cultural forms to be experienced by many social groups across diverse geographic and sociocultural contexts. Scholars in cultural/media studies, communications, sociology, and anthropology have long explored how common experiences of mass media lead to shared meanings, attitudes, and beliefs, and also how these shared meanings lead to the formation of social groups. Many early studies of mass media emphasized the effects of mass media upon mass audiences. For example, the advent of the printing press in the sixteenth century – among the earliest forms ...

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