Mass Society Theory

Published 14 Dec 2016


The Mass society theorem is a context which explains the power of mass media and action through the media. This involves using the mass media as a tool of explaining the purpose of the mass action as well as the key element of how the society is enlightened on these contexts which include informing the people and inspiring the people.

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The effects of the mass society theory on the American society

The effects of the mass society theory on the American society have been felt through change of societal objectives and values. The Mass society theory applications include the strength of the media as a trusted tool of keeping the people informed about their lives, dangers and actions they should take to stay put in life. The Mass society theory is based on the ideals and perceptions of the famous Frankfurt School which boasts of great thinkers like Adorno and Horkheimer. The arguments about the effects of the theory explain how the society through the media has assimilated various trends, traits and different perspectives on the social order and governance.

Notable is an increase of free media and the inception of ethical standards in the media industry has been the most moving feature of the effects.

Growth of the television to cable TV and now TiVo is also one of the greater effects. Besides the technological growth of the media, the information through the mass media has led to more computers and the internet connection being made compulsory domestic requirements so as to make the mass media available.

The theory has forced a trend of high culture amongst Americans. Also it has made the society to be interlocked in power structures managed by inpiduals who run groups which are both above reproach and obscure, but run schemes and curtails that use and benefit from ills and business conduits in the society (Boyd-Barrett, 1995). The theory has also planted the seed of democracy and a sense of immense ‘free state and people notion’ in the Americans society. The theory is associated with a ‘social structure doctrine’ in American societal values wherein the context of human rights is highly valued.

However, there are extremities of the theory that have led to the decay of social values plus a shift from the ways of proper parenting and a just society to a carefree society. The mass society theory is associated with the restructuring the ideologies of creating economic empowerment through the society as the economic base (Boyd-Barrett, 1995).

These effects have been brought about by the extremity, strengths and the prowess of the media. Mass media has the potential to reach and instill the society with faculties of their rights, actions and destiny. This is through the direct impact of the media’s message through news broadcasts and commentaries on the society which Boyd-Barrett describes as ‘magic bullets’.

How Senator Joe McCarthy used mass media to scare people regarding Communism.

Senator Joe McCarthy was the pioneer of principle renowned McCarthyism. This was a cynical doctrine which exposed people sympathetic to communism. McCarthy was a crusader of anti communism. He attacked government officials who seemed sympathetic to communism. Using the mass society theory concepts, McCarthy aggressively campaigned to scare people through impeaching government institution like the VOA; a government institution which he said was bureaucratic. Subsequently he forced out pro-communist literature which he said was in the State Department’s abroad information library.

McCarthy was deemed untrustworthy and this made him not completely in favor even with the president. This was well known through the media and made him too vocal and well supported by the public to be forced to be silent by the government and its officials. This made him more of a weapon against pro-communism policies and communism in the United States. He used evasiveness to create a social position to support his allegations. He used this to be in favor with the society and force his allegations through.

Through the numerous committees he was in charge of, he dispensed the values which the society deemed necessary for the well being of the state.

McCarthyism forced numbers of suspected communist sympathizers and those against his policies to resign from various positions and committees running state affairs. He used too much of the ‘bullet attacks’ strategies to sink his accusations. He once said he had evidence while he had none. He was a public image with truths without evidence. Conclusively, we can ascertain that Senator McCarthy used the mass society theory through the following methodologies. He created mass media hype to enlighten the society about things certain people were doing and how these things were bad for the masses. McCarthy ethically played the politics of the mass society theory.

Ways the Mass Society Theory affected the United States in the past

The theory has led to an increase in American nation population. This is due to immigrants’ belief that America is a persified and democratic Nation. perse ethnic groups have come to the United States leading to what the theory refers to as ‘unfinished ethnic inclines’. The emigrants have sought after using the mass belief so as to create their own institutions. These institutions include ethnic mass media which is associated with the context of ethnicity and functional conflict perspective. The society dwells on the media hypothesis to act on issues.

The media role in reporting the persity of the society’s rights, creation of press to inform, enlighten these cultures and ethnic alignments on their situation, rights and needs is an effect.

The assumptions of the Mass society theory

The context of the Mass-Society Theory examines the structure of social movements. The theory seeks to establish and ascertain how these structures are run by inpiduals with an aim of planting a stand alone principle to attach their perceptions back on the society they are detached from (Schulze, 1960)

Social movements are the structures which can and have been providing social-economic empowerment, (Kornhauser 1959). The principles of mass society and the collective responsibility of the society is a vital element in the creation of a niche that constructively can progress. Social detachment by members of the society leads to conflict of the social perceptions about their role and rights in the various levels of their representation, which lead to conception of social movements.

The theory also believes in direct elite-non-elite relationships. This is due to lack of the intermediate groups (Kornhauser 1959).

The theory explains and substantiates that a ritual process of communication exists. This means that one is not artificially porceable from a particular historical and social context (Miller, 2005).

The theory believes that the society can be able to mobilize itself through mass action to acquire various distinctive levels of economic growth. This, the theory deems as the resource mobilization context which the society through mass action can always achieve. Besides, the theory’s contentment to societal abilities projects the concepts of structural alignment of the society to achieve both economic and political change through mass action.


  • Boyd-Barrett, O (1995), ‘Early theories in media research’, in O Boyd-Barrett & C Newbold (eds.), Approaches to Media, Arnold, London.
  • Kornhauser, William (1959). The Politics of Mass Society. Glencoe III: The Free Press.
  • K. Viswanath & Pamela Arora b (February 2000). Ethnic Media in the United States: An Essay on Their Role in Integration, Assimilation, and Social Control. Mass Communication and Society, 3, Retrieved 8th September 2008, pages 39 – 56
  • Miller, K (2005). Communication Theories: Perspectives, processes, and contexts: Second edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Rorert O. Schulze: (1960). The Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 644-646
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