The Handbook of Media and Mass Communication Theory
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The Handbook of Media and Mass Communication Theory presents a comprehensive collection of original essays that focus on all aspects of current and classic theories and practices relating to media and mass communication.

  • Focuses on all aspects of current and classic theories and practices relating to media and mass communication
  • Includes essays from a variety of global contexts, from Asia and the Middle East to the Americas
  • Gives niche theories new life in several essays that use them to illuminate their application in specific contexts
  • Features coverage of a wide variety of theoretical perspectives
  • Pays close attention to the use of theory in understanding new communication contexts, such as social media

2 Volumes
Volumes are aslo available for individual purchase


Robert S. Fortner is Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at the American University in Bulgaria. He is the author or editor of seven books and almost 100 essays.

P. Mark Fackler is Professor of Communication at Calvin College. He has written extensively on topics relating to communication and journalism ethics.


Volume I

Notes on Contributors ix

Introduction xix

Part I Classical Theories of Media and the Press 1

1 Classical Liberal Theory in a Digital World 3
Stephen J. A. Ward

2 The Origins of Media Theory: An Alternative View 22
Robert S. Fortner

3 Political Economic Theory and Research: Conceptual Foundations and Current Trends 37
Vincent Mosco

4 Semiotics and the Media 56
Bronwen Martin

5 Symbolic Interactionism and the Media 74
Norman K. Denzin

6 Patterns in the Use of Theory in Media Effects Research 95
W. James Potter

7 Cultivation Theory: Its History, Current Status, and Future Directions 115
Daniel Romer, Patrick Jamieson, Amy Bleakley, and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

8 Media Ecology: Contexts, Concepts, and Currents 137
Casey Man Kong Lum

9 Dramatistic Theory: A Burkeian Approach to the 2004 Madrid Terrorist Attacks 154
Cristina Zurutuza-Muñoz

10 Ritual Theory and the Media 172
John J. Pauly

11 Jacques Ellul and the Nature of Propaganda in the Media 190
Randal Marlin

12 Lewis Mumford: Technics, Civilization, and Media Theory 210
Robert S. Fortner

13 The Impact of Ethics on Media and Press Theory 225
Clifford G. Christians

Part II Audiences, Social Construction, and Social Control 249

14 Agenda-Setting Influence of the Media in the Public Sphere 251
Maxwell E. McCombs and Lei Guo

15 The Uses and Gratifications (U&G) Approach as a Lens for Studying Social Media Practice 269
Anabel Quan-Haase and Alyson L. Young

16 The Media’s Impact on Perceptions of Political Polarization 287
Jeffrey Crouch and Mark J. Rozell

17 The Social-Cultural Construction of News: From Doing Work to Making Meanings 301
Daniel A. Berkowitz and Zhengjia Liu

18 Media, Civil Society, and the Public Sphere: History and Current Thinking 314
Robert S. Fortner, Ann Snesareva, and Ksenia Tsitovich

19 The Genesis of Social Responsibility Theory: William Ernest Hocking and Positive Freedom 333
Clifford G. Christians and P. Mark Fackler

Part III New Approaches and Reconsiderations 357

20 Feminist Media Theory 359
Linda Steiner

21 Media, Communication, and Postcolonial Theory 380
Shanti Kumar

22 Reconceptualizing “Cultural Imperialism” in the Current Era of Globalization 400
Mel van Elteren

23 Al Jazeera Remaps Global News Flows 420
Catherine Cassara

24 Nonviolence as a Communication Strategy: An Introduction to the Rhetoric of Peacebuilding 440
Ellen W. Gorsevski

25 Globalization and Cultural Identities: A Contradiction in Terms? 462
Ana Cristina Correia Gil

26 Cultivation Theory in the Twenty-First Century 480
Michael Morgan, James Shanahan, and Nancy Signorielli

27 Media Theory and Media Policy: Worlds Apart 498
Cees J. Hamelink

Volume II

Part IV Media Theory and New Technologies 511

28 The Philosophy of Technology and Communication Systems 513
Clifford G. Christians

29 Theoretical Perspectives on the Social Construction of Technology 535
Robert S. Fortner and Darya V. Yanitskaya

30 Dangerous Liaisons: Media Gaming and Violence 552
Ran Wei and Brett A. Borton

31 Empowerment and Online Social Networking 572
Jarice Hanson

32 Global Communication Divides and Equal Rights to Communicate 591
Carolyn A. Lin

33 Citizenship and Consumption: Media Theory in the Age of Twitter 612
Kevin Cummings and Cynthia Gottshall

34 Round Pegs in Square Holes: Is Mass Communication Theory a Useful Tool in Conducting Internet Research? 629
Christine Ogan

35 How Global Is the Internet? Reflections on Economic, Cultural, and Political Dimensions of the Networked “Global Village” 645
Kai Hafez

Part V Theory Case Studies 665

36 Nationalism and Imperialism 667
Mingsheng Li

37 Media Control in China 690
Zheng Li

38 The Construction of National Image in the Media and the Management of Intercultural Conflicts 708
Xiaodong Dai and Guo-Ming Chen

39 Play Theory and Public Media: A Case Study in Kenya Editorial Cartoons 726
P. Mark Fackler and Levi Obonyo

40 Contemporary Chinese Communication Scholarship: An Emerging Alternative Paradigm 741
Wenshan Jia, Hailong Liu, Runze Wang, and Xinchuan Liu

41 Al Jazeera and Dr. Laura: Is a Global Islamic Reformist Media Ethics Theory Possible? 766
Haydar Badawi Sadig

42 Media Ethics Theories in Africa 781
Herman Wasserman

43 The Efficacy of Censorship as a Response to Terrorism 798
Kasun Ubayasiri

44 Blending East–West Philosophies to Meta-Theorize Mediatization and Revise the News Paradigm 819
Shelton A. Gunaratne

45 Understanding Mass Media: A Buddhist Viewpoint 844
Wimal Dissanayake

46 Jewish Communication Theory: Biblical Law and Contemporary Media Practice 859
Yoel Cohen

47 God Still Speaks: A Christian Theory of Communication 874
P. Mark Fackler

48 Theorizing about the Press in Post-Soviet Societies 888
Igor E. Klyukanov and Galina V. Sinekopova

49 Internet and Political Activism in Post-Revolutionary Iran 907
Babak Rahimi

Part VI Conclusion 929

50 Looking Ahead to a New Generation of Media and Mass Communication Theory 931
P. Mark Fackler and Robert S. Fortner

Index 948


“This two-volume collection is a rich, comprehensive source of developing media theory. Original foundational essays focus on theory, and empirical analyses explore a wide range of case studies and their applications ... Unique for the current and comprehensive range of perspectives it offers, this set is a must read for those interested in having a broad understanding of the evolution and current state of theories in mass communication. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.”  (Choice, 1 April 2015)

“This is a richly detailed set on media theory and its application in communication studies. While the focus is very much on its application in the media sphere, scholars in allied cultural and sociological disciplines will also find much they can adopt and adapt within their own work as well; broadening the appeal and readership likewise … Given that there is much within this work that will be of repeated use to students and faculty, purchase of this work by any academic library supporting these disciplines is one that should be strongly considered.” (Reference Reviews, 1 April 2015)

“That this Handbook calls for two large volumes and more than four dozen essays illustrates the dramatic pace of developing media theory in recent years. Such a reference work would have been impossible a decade or two ago when serious media theoretical research was just getting off the ground and we had far more questions than potential answers. Fortner and Fackler and their impressive array of contributors provide an invaluable intellectual anthology of what we now know, topics which are still only partially understood, and aspects where much remains to be done.”

Chris Sterling
, George Washington University

“Like Rodgers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Lowe, Robert Fortner and Mark Fackler are becoming the gourmet indispensable team who provide excellent inspiration for our field. Like Christians and Wilkins, they have set the bar with a handbook on international media ethics. Now they are raising that bar with The Handbook of Media and Mass Communication Theory, which assembles a who’s who of leading theorists and media studies thinkers worldwide. Far more than an introduction to media theory, this double volume is the most current and comprehensive overview and analysis of the field. … MUST reading.”

 Dr. Tom Cooper, Emerson College

“A rich resource for all media-related disciplines. Impressive for its vision, both retrospective and future-oriented; and comprehensive in its range of perspectives, from the established to the innovatory.”

Denis McQuail
, University of Amsterdam