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Scannell chapter 3 - Scannellchapter3 RobertMerton 15:38:00...

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Scannell chapter 3 30/01/2011 15:38:00 Robert Merton: - born Meyer Schkolnik to immigrant Russian Jews who settled in Philadelphia  - steeped in European sociology: Marx, Weber and Durkheim were all important  sources of inspiration - association with Lazarsfeld came in 1941 when he joined Columbia - key work was a case study of a marathon live-to-air radio broadcast by a  popular singer, Kate Smith, to promote war bonds Mass Persuasion - Smith was incredibly well-renounced, appearing at the White House and  earning immense salaries for her performances - During the war, she had 2 regular programs –  a 15 minute slot on Wednesday afternoons called  Kate Smith Speaks , in  which she read out letters sent into her, adding her own comments on them  and on current issues of concern to ordinary listeners – child labor, war,  families and discrimination against workers over 40   top daytime show on  the radio with an audience of 10 million regular listeners Kate Smith Hour , weekly broadcast by CBS between 8 and 9pm - She was asked to take part in an all-day campaign to persuade Americans to  buy government war bonds - Had already participated in 2 programs like such, but never a marathon - Marathon resulted in $40 million in war bonds purchases - Kate Smith study was based on three sets of inter-related data 1. A content analysis of the Kate Smith broadcasts o Showed the ‘objective’ character of the broadcasts to which listeners  responded 2. “intensive focused interviews” with 100 people who listened to the  broadcasts o Revealed how the process of persuasion worked  3. Polling interviews with a cross-section of about 1000 people o Provided a cross-check on the interpretation of the intensive interview  material
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- Only when the broadcast was considered as a whole, as having a structured  temporal unity, could its effect on the behaviors of listeners be understood, particularly  the compulsion to carry on listening right through the day to which many of those  interviewed testified  - It was an exercise of persuasion, not propaganda, because persuasion has a  more interactive character, thus in the course of the event, what Smith said was  carefully attuned both to the changing time of day and the responses of listeners who  had phoned in to the station  - Themes of Smith’s broadcast were content and action-oriented with regards to  the war and war bonds, but also had a “personal theme” and a “facilitation theme”
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