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Title:Education and the mass media: The origins of mass communications research in the United States, 1939-1955
Author(s):Glander, Timothy Richard
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Karier, Clarence J.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History of Education
Mass Communications
Abstract:This study examines the development of mass communications research as an area of study at United States universities during World War II and the Cold War. By mid-century mass communications researchers became recognized experts in describing the effects of the mass media on learning and other social behavior. This study analyzes the ideological and historical forces which gave rise to, and shaped, their research.
The growth of the various technologies of mass communication in the early part of the twentieth century was a source of great concern, as well as a source of great optimism, among educators. Between World War I and World War II educators engaged in a wide ranging debate about the role of these mass media, centered largely around the issue of propaganda and its relationship to democracy and education. The dissertation presents an overview of this debate and argues that the debate subsided with the outbreak of World War II.
The United States involvement in World War II required the creation of propaganda agencies whose primary goal was the development of techniques of mass persuasion. Scholars who went to work for these agencies sharpened their expertise in these areas, and made important personal contacts which facilitated the development of the field. Since the term "propaganda" had come to possess negative connotations, these researchers orchestrated a semantic shift away from "propaganda" to "mass communications."
The field was enhanced by the large governmental research contracts which were awarded to university-based mass communications researchers during the Cold War. The work of several key figures in this research is discussed, including Berelson, Stanton, Hovland, Cantril, and Dodd.
The work of Paul Lazarsfeld and Wilbur Schramm is reviewed, based on archival records. Lazarsfeld's early interest in this research is located in his adherence to socialism as a youth in Vienna. Schramm's interest in persuasion stems from his education in the neo-humanist tradition of Norman Foerster.
The conclusion argues that ideological commitments of key researchers in the field, as well as other historical forces, had a major impact on the way in which these researchers came to view the mass media.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Glander, Timothy Richard
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9114246
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9114246

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