FUNCTIONS AND ROLE OF MEANS OF MASS COMMUNICATION, Functional approach to the activity of mass media - Sociology of mass communications. Theory and practice


Functional approach to mass media activities

Function - work performed by an organ, organism; role, meaning of something; duty, scope of activities, purpose.

Sergey Ozhegov. Dictionary of the Russian language

So, a historical retrospective shows that social communication has evolved as a mechanism for the realization of human relations with the functions of orientation in the environment, the management of society, the transfer of the social heritage of one generation to another. Insofar as mass communication is part of the social, the above functions are inherent in it. But these are functions of the QMS on large time intervals, in the historical perspective. This paradigm can be called macrosociological. When moving to the activity of the QMS on a particular historical period, such a classification will be too general, it will not detect any historical changes in functions or their modifications in different state organisms.

And indeed, as soon as the QMS actually appeared, one could not ignore the importance for their functions of socio-political coordinates, in which they really existed. And we, analyzing their occurrence, noted such QMS functions , as providing society with alternatives to social practices; opportunities to discuss them; To provide their channels for approbation of them through public, including expert, discussion; adapt to them the population. For the population, it was still an opportunity to participate as a real political force in the mechanism for the implementation of democracy in addition to voting procedures and other forms of presentation of its political interest (demonstrations, rallies, etc.). Such an analysis is a theoretical approach to the QMS, which can be briefly formulated as "QMS in the life of society".

To date, extensive empirical material on the problem of "QMS in the life of an individual", i.e., is accumulated. we are talking about the analysis on the same object of a new subject: the functions of QMS in real historical time, their role, the influence of the personality, efficiency. When we talked about the functions of social information in general for the individual, we followed, after A. A. Levada, the concepts of structural, fundamental and operational information. For all meaningful differences, these types are intertwined in the activities of today's information channels on the coverage of the life of a given society in a specific historical time period, include the individual in the real world, help him to orientate in the society at the present time, which is inseparable from the value structure of society; nor from the system of scientific knowledge for today; nor from the context of all current events occurring within the boundaries of localities.

As soon as we add to our reasoning the concept of a particular society as a political, economic, ideological organism, we bring here the "QMS and power" paradigm, as well as other interest groups, to which a special section of this textbook will be devoted.

During the XX century. researchers expanded the list of QMS functions for the individual. Sociologists Wright (1960) developed the typology of Lasswell and supplemented it with the notion of entertainment function. Researchers McCuell, Blammer, and Brown (1972) operated, speaking of the QMS functions, by categories of distraction, flight from everyday life and the burden of problems, emotional detente, the replacement of interpersonal communication and social activity, a person's awareness of himself as a person, cognition of reality, reinforcement of values , social supervision. Katz, Blamler, and Gurevich proceeded from the premise that a person uses the QMS to establish (eliminate) contacts that can be instrumental (pragmatic, applied), affective (emotional, psychologically comfortable) and integrative (with friends, with family, with the nation, and with .).

In the sociological project "Public Opinion & quot; (1968-1978, head - BA Grushin), the following classification was adopted: the function of informing, educating, organizing behavior, relieving tension, and communication. Each of them is a more complex concept than it emerges from the lexical meaning of the word. The function of upbringing implies information about the ideals of the society in which the QMS exists, and the transfer of the experience of generations, and the formation of public opinion. A simple case can be a function of the organization of behavior. But here you can give different examples: from organizing a newspaper campaign to help people affected by the earthquake or recommendations to follow the advertisement published on the pages of this newspaper, before the fashion spread. In all cases, the content of QMS does not remain without reaction from people, causing them to have a certain behavior. The function of stress relieving (or recreational, entertaining, establishing an emotionally rational balance) is very important - as much as leisure is important in a civilization, when a person experiences stress from urbanization, from the pace of innovation processes. The oblivion of the fact that a person expects the realization of this function from the QMS, can cost a lot for a specific drip - people will stop consuming his information and will look for other sources.

In this regard, it is necessary to say about the function of communication. This is a rather ambiguous definition. To make it more understandable, we must saturate it with examples. What is communication? Communication, communication, a procedure that involves the exchange of spiritual values, the same for communicators, the exchange of the same emotional states. When a doctor reads in a newspaper about a unique operation, he extracts from this fact not only the actual facts of the event, but also senses the significance of his own social role. This is the basis for the mechanism of the perception of mass information by the individual: it is not only the exchange of information, but also values, it is the source of support for the social roles of individuals. This makes the QMS activity necessary and necessary in a particular person's life. An example of such a function can be borrowed from the researcher G. Web ( G. Wiebe ). He talks about a paradox related to television. TV programs are regarded by many as trivial, vulgar and even harmful, and, nevertheless, they gather a huge audience. The explanation lies in psychology - in an effort to consolidate with & quot; others & quot ;.

There is another important side to this issue, which we will discuss, referring to the article by K. Kienick, D. Krugman, and G. Cameron, "Fatigue of compassion: communication and a feeling of devastation in relation to social problems." The term & quot; fatigue compassion & quot; was used to describe the increasing fatigue of society from the QMS coverage of human tragedies and from ubiquitous appeals with requests for donations of money to certain charitable foundations. Already with the predictions made by Lazarsfeld and Merton regarding the "anesthetic dysfunction" QMS researchers assumed that the ubiquitous coverage of social problems could lead to a loss of sensitivity to them: "The image of an oiled gull or dead soldier pale when you see this for the tenth time."

The effectiveness of repetition of reports about social problems has its limit. In the literature, a similar phenomenon is described, connected with repeated messages of an advertising nature. Advertising, which initially provokes a positive response, after repeated impressions can generate a negative reaction. Leads to "fatigue compassion" the emphasis on sensationalism, the prevalence of bad news, the inability to represent the context of social problems and the presentation of problems, rather than solutions. SMK tend to attach social problems to the nature of sensations, giving them an unnecessarily large scale. Bad news syndrome is exacerbated by the fact that QMS more often presents problems, but not their solutions, contributing to a feeling of powerlessness among consumers. The QMS ignores mobilizing information - suggestions about the action and the necessary details, such as phone numbers and addresses. In this situation, as public opinion polls have shown, people avoid one or another topic; evade information programs; switch channels, turn off the sound of the TV or radio, put the newspapers aside, etc. In extreme form, the fatigue of compassion manifests itself in total rejection of the QMS, in the "boycott" TV news, in stopping subscription to newspapers. Frequent reporting of bad news will alienate the public, forcing it to turn away from social problems. This concept is an alternative to the traditional approach to social problems, which speaks exclusively about the effective role of QMS in this field.

Returning to a more general discussion of the QMS functions, we need to clarify whether it is about the functions that the company poses to the QMS, or about the tasks that are seen by the communicator itself, or about the goals that the audience is striving to achieve by accessing the QMS. It is clear that for the first case the sequence of informational and educational functions would be more appropriate, for the second one - informational, educational, achievement of emotional and rational balance, for the third - satisfaction of cognitive needs, support of moral values, entertainment function. It's not that the audience will tell us about the role of QMS in their lives in their own language, although this is a sociological task. Let her tell us that she turns on the radio only to listen to the weather report. To call this function informative is a sociologist's business.

Empirical studies of the attitude of the audience towards the consumption of television information programs say that the motivation for applying to them is the polyfactors ia: "I watch television news to be aware of the topical facts and events" - 4.46 points (the score is set on a five-point scale, where 5 points mean that this opinion is divided completely, and 1 point - when it is not divided at all); "I watch television news, as it helps me form a relationship to the most important events of the day." - 3.38 points; & quot; I watch TV news for recreation and entertainment & quot; - 2.84 points; & quot; I watch news, so that later I had something to talk about with friends and acquaintances & quot; - 2.62 points; "I watch the news because commentators and reporters give the fact a human relationship" - 1.34 points.

Similar information was obtained in 1997 by the Levada Center (then VTsIOM) during an international comparative study. Answers to the question "What are you watching TV for?" & Quot; were distributed as follows (in% of the number of respondents): & quot; Find out the latest news & quot; - 82%; & quot; Learn something new, interesting & quot; - 61%; "Distract, relax & quot; - 42%; & quot; Raise the mood, have fun & quot; - 41%; & quot; Get new impressions, feelings, experiences & quot; - 19%; "To visit where I was not & quot; - 17%; Learn something useful for work, study & quot; - 16%; & "Kill time & quot; - 15%; & quot; Get away from reality & quot; - 10%; Support the habitual rhythm of life & quot; - 9%; "Stay with family, with friends & quot; - 9%; "Identify with your views, beliefs & quot; - 8%; Feel part of society & quot; - 8%; & quot; Get excited, mobilize & quot; - 2%.

Researchers of television news use this scale to assess the motivation of TV viewing: news allows me to keep abreast of the latest developments, they help to follow the steps of the government, they entertain, they excite, they are dramatic, they report facts that help prove my point of view other people in disputes, commentators attach a human relationship to the image, provide information that can be communicated to others, reporters are like people I know, help to form my own point rhenium on what is happening, provide information that can be trusted; i. e. & quot; closing & quot; in the scale detail informative, entertaining approach to information and options for parasocial interaction.

But let's digress from what say about the functions of the audience. It can just act. Take an extreme case. Part of the audience includes the TV only when the transmission is "Wonderland". So, regardless of what that this group will tell us about the functions, TV for it exists only in one of its functions - entertainment, stress relieving, hedonistic.

Here there is one more difficulty in analyzing functions. Yu. Davydov says this in his work: "Everything that prompts a person to activity, directly appears in his mind in the form of motives, either ethical or aesthetic, or some other ideal order. In this regard, there is an involuntary "turning on the head" of the real state of things. Ideal motivation seems to be something primordial, something that determines human activity. Indeed, the real real reason that prompted a person to activity has faded in her theoretical, ethical, aesthetic and other awareness.

And directly, - proceeding from this individual, - it can not get to it anymore. "

Speech in this case can go about purely theoretical scheme of interaction of QMS with different levels of social structure. So, Yu. A. Levada highlights the level of the individual, the level of the social group and the level of social institutions with respect to which certain functions of the QMS can be derived. For the individual with the help of the QMS, self-affirmation, socialization, harmonious, balanced existence in the social group is carried out; subordination to social roles, which are actualized and even imposed on the individual by this system. The same system supports the structure and value significance of social roles, i.e. thus, the introduction to culture, which represents the totality of the experience developed by people, realized in the products of their material and spiritual activity, assimilated by the members of the community in the process of learning and socialization.

Within the framework of the group, the QMS is facilitated by its integration - both social and professional; contribute to its inclusion in a broader social structure. If we move to the level of social institutions, it is the QMS that they owe to the fact that the social norms they broadcast are made available to individuals, thereby creating an active mobilizing social environment with emotional, rational and estimated coordinates.

We examined the functions of QMS from the point of view of different participants in the communicative chain. But as soon as we go down to the level of separate means of communication - separately newspapers, radio and television - their functions begin to transform somewhat, change their priority. It is known that the press, radio and television materialize their content in various ways: printing - graphically designated word and static image; radio-sounding word and < i> sound television - sounding word, sound and dynamic image.

Recreational function is more characteristic of television. Television theorists claim that it is characterized by: confrontation, entertainment, intimacy, seriality (hence the different points of view, the private lives of characters and characters, situational comedies, talk shows, discussions, etc.). In R. Dey's opinion, the representative of the British BBC television channel, television "affects more feelings than intellect." For a television journalist, this means a dangerous and growing focus not on thought, but on action, not on topics, but on events, not on explanations, but on upheavals, not on ideas, but on personalities. The flow of sensationalism and superficiality is the constant temptation of television. "

As critics of bourgeois television once claimed, answering traditional journalistic questions, "Who?" What? Where? When? ", Telenews avoid the question" Why? ", Because to respond to it would have to slow down the rate of submission of the material and find the corresponding video series. The words of the American journalist and journalist theoretician U. Cronkite are becoming clear, saying that it is because of their nature that television will never replace the press in the general spectrum of communications, television news is only the first step to awareness.

The analysis of the QMS functions can be continued further, if you descend vertically from nationwide information channels to local ones. At the level of the latter, awareness of specificity is necessary not only for science, but even more for the communicator himself, in order to find his own information writing.

Consideration of functions, roles of the QMS involves a consciously motivated appeal of the individual to information. But this relationship can be viewed from a different angle: as an un-motivated, non-purposeful action. This is indicated by L. Bogart: "The use of QMS is primarily a way of spending leisure time rather than purposeful activity, often dictated by chance, rather than psychologically justified motives and needs." This view of the interaction between the QMS and the individual can be put on a par with the arguments of Yu. A. Levada about the nature of the game action underlying this interaction: "The game action ... is devoid of any external utility, orientation to an external goal. .. The spectator game does not continue acting, but develops according to its own rules, it is characterized by the processes of individual and group identification, substitution, removal of tension, etc. It seems appropriate to distinguish direct spectator game from the mediocre bath (secondary), in which the subject participates experience (playing) is not the acting, and the message on it. Such a game is created with the help of mass communication, capable of pushing the circle of players almost to the scales of the whole society. The system of mass communication transforms its audience into empathic participants of events in which it can not accept real and qualified participation; on the other hand, it turns into a spectacle (in the subject of the spectator game) almost any event of a social or spontaneous order. "

Analysts in this connection were concerned with the question, does this mean that an individual, having connected to the communication process, has a conscious expectation of a certain content? The answer seems to be that it is necessary to distinguish between the inclusion of an individual in mass communication as a process and a single act of such communication, i.e. inclusion in the communication within the content of a single message.

During the years of the development of the sociology of the QMS, there is empirical evidence that there is a situation for the audience of choosing a certain means to meet their needs. Many researchers have been concerned with the extent to which television consumption is comparable to the cultural activity of reading books, attending the theater, to what extent it contributes to or hinders other forms of satisfying the need, whether these forms are equal. There are clearly manifested themselves depending on the level of education of people, but not to a lesser extent on the level of objective potential access to other ways of leisure, to other ways of familiarizing with culture. From experience when, in the framework of a research project studying patterns of consumption of culture in small Russian cities, it was found that, unlike the behavior of highly educated layers in large metropolitan cities, that such layers gravitated toward direct forms of consumption of culture (museums , theaters, exhibitions, concerts) and to a lesser extent were part of the television audience, in small towns where television was the only "light in the window," it was highly educated who demonstrated the most frequent aschenie to the TV.

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