COGN 20 STUDY GUIDE
What is the public sphere, and why is this important for understanding the role of mass media and
the concept of democracy in our course?
Public sphere: interacting with others and the society at large. This includes different forms of
communication such as the postal system, newspapers, movies, etc. This relates to democracy in our course
by the way that our society has the power to influence mass media. Our interests determine what our media
focuses on (example: now global warming has become a more popular topic and is becoming known by the
Democracy: the political orientation of those who favor government by the people or by their elected
representatives. This means that power is in the hand of the people and this relates to media because power
is in the hand of the people as well. We can also stretch to say that the people’s “elected representatives”
are the directors, the anchors, the reporters, the writers, etc.
., and they are the ones who are basically
voicing the people’s opinion for them.
According to Paul Starr, what were some of the forces- economical, political, and cultural- that
affected the development of mass media (such as radio and film) in the early decades of the twentieth
century? Why are these factors important for understanding the history of mass media before the
arrival of TV in the 1950’s?
WWI: U.S. emerges as most economically prosperous nation to come out of war
Progressive Era: moral reforms, coincides with 19
century embrace of religious revival and fears of sexual
- Hays code: no profanity, nudity, sex, crime, violence and other “inappropriate themes”
- Anti-immigration laws: fears of eugenic “race suicide” through procreation among social inferiors.
- Supreme Court will not grant film and radio the same 1
amendment freedoms they allow the press
Motion pictures and radio transformed the landscape of American culture from one of popular culture to
Motion pics explored sexuality, feminism, political radicalism, organized crime, and racial and ethnic
Reformers, censorship boards, civic groups, and religious orgs. saw the potential for misbehavior, abuse,
crime, and lowering social values.
Supreme court ruling: “ their power of amusement and, it maybe education, the audiences they assemble,
not of women alone nor of men alone, but together, no of adults only, but of children, make [motion
pictures] the more insidious in corruption”
Radio programs are given to listeners at no price, in exchange for their attention
Radio: transformation from dual communication to one-way???
Radio extends mass culture ( e.g. vaudeville, documentaries, political commentary) by adapting familiar