active audience theory

theory that assumes that people are actively involved in the experience of consuming media


capacity of an individual to make choices and act independently

confirmation bias

tendency of people to interpret information as a confirmation of their existing beliefs


social and economic behavior that places consumption at the center of people's lives


distribution of the same message across different media channels

digital divide

gap between communities with widespread access to digital technology and those who do not have the same level of access to it

echo chamber

social space where people with uniform viewpoints and beliefs circulate a set of ideas


theory that people internalize class rank at a very young age, which in turn influences tastes and preferences throughout life

high culture

cultural products including art, literature, music, theater, and fashion that require formal or elaborate training to produce and often require a certain kind of education to understand

hypodermic needle theory

theory that describes media messages as being injected into the brains of a passive audience

interpretive community

community formed of readers who use similar interpretive strategies, based on shared beliefs about what constitutes the most significant elements of a text

interpretive strategy

set of assumptions and approaches to understanding a text

knowledge gap

unequal distribution of knowledge among social groups

mainstream media

widely known media outlets that promote popular cultural messages

mass media

platforms of information that reach masses of people, such as television, radio, film, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet

mass society

society with a lack of social connections, characterized by a homogenous culture and powerful, impersonal bureaucracies


all forms of communication that have the purpose of conveying a message

media conglomerate

parent corporation that owns numerous companies all involved in different facets of mass media

media consolidation

concentration of media ownership, with fewer companies controlling most mass media

minimal effects theory

theory stating that media alone cannot singlehandedly cause people to alter their attitudes or change their behaviors

personal media

person-to-person communication

popular culture

cultural products such as art, literature, fashion, film, cyberculture, print media, and music that are consumed by the majority of members of society

power elite

small group of individuals within the realms of government, military, and corporations who hold most of the power in a society


type of editorial bias used to create interest and hype, or excitement

social media

forms of electronic media designed to connect individuals


influential figure who is connected to the masses through a powerful media platform and encourages particular behaviors, trends, and preferences in popular culture