Limited Power

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During the XXth century  social researchers were obsessed with the influence that the media could have in the people’s life styles. In one hand, we can find theories that hold we are directly influenced by the media. They thought that media has devastating effects in people. But, in the other hand, we can find researches that prove the limited effects of media in our lives.

In my last post I talked about Lazarsfeld’s work and how illuminating was his work. Between 1945 and 1960 was developed the Limited-Effects Theory, out of Lazarsfeld’s work. I find it very interesting because, by this theory, researchers wanted to generalize the role of the media in the society. One of the generalization I feel engaged with, is the fact that media rarely directly influence individuals. This is because people ignore the media information that is not important for them. I can say I have felt that in my own life. I am politically apathetic, this is I do not support any political party. Therefore, when the media tries to convince me in order to make me feel involved with a political party by using advertisement, for example, I just ignore this information. I do not care about the campaign. In this case, we can appreciate how limited are the effects of the media.

Another generalization in the limited-effects theory is the idea that when people become adults, they have stronger group commitments, as religious affiliations. I think this is true, even if we are talking about a youngster. Talking based on my own experience, I can say that I have very strong religion ideology. Supporting the limited-effects theory, I would say that even if I were systematically exposed to a different religious information, I wouldn’t change my believes.

My conclusion is that, media is powerful, but  in the end, we decide how much influence it has in our lives. It depends on how valuable is the media information for us. HOW POWERFUL is the media for us.


One thought on “Limited Power

    Ruth said:
    October 28, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Nice post. I can see you reading very closely and you are picking up on some of the most important ideas from the texts, which is terrific. We will be talking about exactly these themes concerning attitude change on Thursday, so I am glad to see you engaging with them here. As you point out, it is very difficult to change peoples´ attitudes, and the more committed they are to their group affiliations (religious, political, or whatever), the harder it is to changes their attitudes away from attitudes that are shared by those groups. In this sense, group affiliations protect people from manipulation by the media, according to limited effects theorists. But it can also raise interesting questions about conformity: if it is hard for people to develop ideas that conflict with those of the group, it may be hard for the group to incorporate innovative ideas or change. Good work! [2]

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