The Play Theory of Mass Communication

Front Cover
Transaction Publishers, 1964 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 225 pages
2 Reviews

The literature on mass communication is now dominated by "objective sociological "approaches. What makes the work of Stephenson so unusual is his starting points: his frank willingness to adopt a "subjective "and "psychological "approach to the study of mass communication. In short, this is an internal analysis of how communication processes are absorbed by individuals. The theory of play is not a doctrine of frivolity, but rather a way in which Stephenson gets at such sensitive areas of communication theory as what is screened out and why.

Without a notion of the play element in communication one would be led to imagine that every televised docudrama would be immediately lived out by every adolescent. Clearly, this is not the case. People can distinguish quite well between imaginary and real events in mass communication contexts. "The Play Theory of Mass Communication "is a work that studies subjective play, how communication serves the cause of self-enhancement and personal pleasure, and the role of entertainment as an end in itself.

In short, for those who are tired of cliche-ridden volumes on the political hidden messages and meanings of communication, or the economic management of media decisions, this volume will come as a refreshment, a piece of entertainment as well as instruction. But with all the emphasis "on "aspects, Stephenson's volume is shrewdly political. He takes up themes ranging from the reduction! of international tensions to the happily alienated worker to such pedestrian events as the reporting of foreign Soviet dignitaries in their visits to democratic cultures. This is, in short, an urbane, wise book--sophisticated in its methodology and critical in its theorizing.

 

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Contents

TWO NEW THEORIES OF MASS COMMUNICATION RESEARCH
1
METHODOLOGY FOR A THEORY OF MASS COMMUNICATION
13
PRINCIPLES CONCERNING AUDIENCES
33
PLAY THEORY
45
REDUCTION OF INTERNATIONAL TENSIONS
66
THEORY OF SOCIAL CHARACTER
80
NATIONAL CHARACTER AND CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP
91
THE DEMOCRATIC MYTH
100
LUDENIC THEORY OF NEWSREADING
147
KHRUSHCHEVS VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES
160
THE ARMYMCCARTHY HEARINGS
168
STUDY OF WANTS AND NEEDS
181
PLAY THEORY OF MASS COMMUNICATION BROADLY CONSIDERED
190
BIBLIOGRAPHY
207
INDEX OF NAMES
217
SUBJECT INDEX
220

HOW NATIONS SEE EACH OTHER
128
THE HAPPY ALIENATED WORKER
136

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Page xi - Play is a voluntary activity or occupation executed within certain fixed limits of time and place, according to rules freely accepted but absolutely binding, having its aim in itself and accompanied by a feeling of tension, joy and the consciousness that it is "different

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