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Media studies is an academic discipline that deals with the content, history and effects of various media; in particular, the 'mass media'. The subject varies greatly in theoretical and methodological focus, but may be broadly divided into three interrelated areas: the critique of artistic styles and aesthetic forms (genre, narrative, and so on), the study of the production process (e.g. technologies and markets), and sociological analysis (of ideological effects, reception and consumption, etc).

Media studies draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, and overlap in interests with related disciplines like mass communication, communication, communication sciences and communication studies. Researchers develop and employ theories and methods from disciplines including cultural studies, rhetoric, philosophy, literary theory, psychology, political science, political economy, economics, sociology, anthropology, social theory, art history and criticism, film theory, and information theory. As technology develops, the importance of education in the field of Media studies and Mass Communication continues to grow drastically. Critics even predict that in the near future Media studies will be an inevitable form of academics.

Key themes

In addition to the interdisciplinary nature of the academic field, popular understandings of media studies encompass:

Most production and journalism courses incorporate media studies content, but academic institutions often establish separate departments. Media studies students may see themselves as observers of media, not creators or practitioners. These distinctions vary across national boundaries.

Separate strands exist within media studies, such as television studies. Film studies is often considered a separate discipline, though television and video games studies grew out of it, as made evident by the application of basic critical theories such as psychoanalysis, feminism and Marxism.

Critical media theory looks at how the corporate ownership of media production and distribution affects society, and provides a common ground to social conservatives (concerned by the effects of media on the traditional family) and liberals and socialists (concerned by the corporatization of social discourse). The study of the effects and techniques of advertising forms a cornerstone of media studies.

Contemporary media studies includes the analysis of new media with emphasis on the internet, video games, mobile devices, interactive television, and other forms of mass media which developed from the 1990s. Because these new technologies allow instant communication across the world (chat rooms and instant messaging, online video games, video conferencing), interpersonal communication is an important element in new media studies.

It has been argued that media studies has not fully acknowledged the changes which the internet and digital interactive media have brought about, seeing these as an 'add-on'. David Gauntlett has argued for a 'Media Studies 2.0' which fully recognises the ways in which media has changed, and that traditional boundaries between 'audiences' and 'producers' has collapsed.

Political communication and political economy

From the beginning, media studies are closely related to politics and wars such as campaign research and war propaganda. Political communication mainly studies the connections among politicians, voters and media. It focused on the media effects. There are four main media influence theories: hypodermic needle model (1930s behaviorism), two-step flow model (Katz and Lazarsfeld, 1955), limited effects (Lang & Lang, 1953), and the spiral of silence (Noelle-Neumann, 1984). Also, many scholars studied the technique of political communication such as rhetoric, symbolism and etc. Much of this research has been developed in journals of mass communication and public opinion scholarship.

In the last quarter century, political economy has played a major part in media studies literature. The theory gained notoriety in media studies particularly with the publication of Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, published in 1988. In the book, the authors discuss a theory of how the United States’ media industry operates, which they term a “propaganda model.” The model describes a “decentralized and non-conspiratorial market system of control and processing, although at times the government or one or more private actors may take initiatives and mobilize co-ordinated elite handling of an issue."

Media studies and media psychology

An EdD concentration in Media Studies, grounded in Media Psychology and a PhD program in Media Psychology were launched at Fielding Graduate University in 2002 by Bernard Luskin. These programs advanced Media Studies in acknowledging the importance of human behavior. The PhD program in Media Psychology is the first in any university.


Media studies throughout the world


Media is studied as a broad subject in most states in Australia, with Victoria being a world leader in curriculum development. Media Studies was first developed as a study area in the early 1960s in Victorian universities. Film studies began in secondary schools in the mid 1960s and by the early 1970s Media Studies was being taught in secondary schools. Most notable in curriculum development at secondary level were Peter Greenaway, Peter Dodds, and Trevor Barr - who developed one of the first media text books 'Reflections of Reality'. Also notable was John Murray with 'The Box in the Corner', 'In Focus', and '10 Lessons in Film Appreciation' (1966). The subject became part of the Higher School Certificate in the 1980s and is currently a strong component of the Victorian Certificate of Education. The VCE course covers Unit 1 - Representation, Technologies of Representation, and New Media; Unit 2 - Media Production, Australian Media Organisations; Unit 3 - Narrative texts, Production Planning; Unit 4 - Production work, Social Values, and Media Influence. Media Studies also forms a major part of the Primary and junior Secondary curriculum and includes areas such as photography, print media, and television. Victoria has the leading Media body known as ATOM [2920] which also publishes Metro [2921] and Screen Education [2922] magazines.

Other states that teach Media are South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland. The Northern Territory also teaches Media in secondary schools. The subject does not appear to be taught in New South Wales.


In Germany two main streams of Media Theory or Media Studies can be identified.

The first large flow of media theory based in humanities and cultural sciences as the Theater scholarship ("Theaterwissenschaft") and German language and literature studies widens since the 1960s. In this orientation, the Media studies in Germany today mainly developed and established.

As one of the first publications to this new direction is by Helmut Kreuzer, published the study Literature Studies - Media Studies (Literaturwissenschaft – Medienwissenschaft), summed up the units of the "Düsseldorfer Germanistentag" 1976.

The second stream is comparable to Communication Studies. Pioneered by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann in the 1940s this stream studies mass media, its institutions and its effects on society and individuals.

The term Wissenschaft however, cannot be translated as studies straightforwardly, as both science and humanities equally fall under it. Accordingly, German media theory combines philosophy, psychoanalysis, history, and science studies with the media specific research.

Medienwissenschaften is currently one of the most popular university courses in Germany, with many applicants mistakenly assuming that studying it will automatically lead them to a career in TV or other media. This has led to widespread disillusionment, with students blaming the universities for offering highly theoretical course content. The universities maintain that practical journalistic training is not the aim of the academic studies they offer.


The media industry is growing in Indiamarker at the rate of 20 percent per annum. Together, entertainment and media form the country's sixth biggest industry, with 3.5 million people working in it. Within the next 4–5 years, the industry is expected to gross eighty thousand crores (800 billion rupees) annually.

With a view to making the best use of communication facilities for information, publicity and development, the Government of India in 1962-63 sought the advice of the Ford Foundation/UNESCO team of internationally known mass communication specialists who recommended the setting up of a national institute for training, teaching and research in mass communication.

New Zealand

Media Studies in New Zealand can be regarded as a singular success, with the subject well-established in the tertiary sector (such as Screen and Media Studies at the University of Waikato; Media Studies, Victoria University of Wellington; Film, Television and Media Studies, University of Auckland; Media Studies, Massey University; Communication Studies, University of Otago).


In the UK, media studies developed in the 1960s from the academic study of English, and from literary criticism more broadly. The key date, according to Andrew Crisell, is 1959:

When Joseph Trenaman left the BBC's Further Education Unit to become the first holder of the Granada Research Fellowship in Television at Leeds Universitymarker.
Soon after in 1966, the Centre for Mass Communication Research was founded at Leicester Universitymarker, and degree programmes in media studies began to sprout at polytechnics and other universities during the 1970s and 1980s.

Media Studies is now taught all over the UK. The topics span from magazines to films. It is taught at GCSE and at A level, and the Scottish Qualifications Authority offers formal qualifications at a number of different levels. It is offered through a large area of exam boards including AQA and WJEC.


Mass communication, communication studies or simply communication may be more popular names than “media studies” for academic departments in the United States. However, the focus of such programs sometimes excludes certain media—film, book publishing, video games, etc. The title “media studies” may be used alone, to designate film studies and rhetorical or critical theory, or it may appear in combinations like “media studies and communication” to join two fields or emphasize a different focus.

Examples: The New School in New York City created the first Media Studies Program in the country in 1975, The Paley Center for Media in New York Citymarker, Comparative Media Studies at MITmarker, Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicagomarker, Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riversidemarker, Rhetoric and Media Studies at Willamette Universitymarker and Media Studies in Communication at Kennesaw State Universitymarker. University of California, Berkeleymarker has a long established and highly regarded interdisciplinary program formerly titled Mass Communications, which recently changed its name to Media Studies [2923], dropping the pejorative connotations which accompany the term “Mass” in the former title. Until recently, Radford Universitymarker in Virginia used the title “media studies” for a department that taught practitioner-oriented major concentrations in journalism, advertising, broadcast production and Web design. In 2008 those programs were combined with a previous department of communication to create a School of Communication.

See also

External links


  1. (Herman, 2000)
  2. Jan-Martin Wiarda: Medien-was?, Die Zeit, 19. May 2005.

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