By Elihu Katz and David Foulkes
Roll no. MCM12020
Role of mass in relation to media- What it really is?
What People do with Media?
What leads one to ‘ESCAPES’?
Some Domains Of Escape: Selected Illustrations
It is often argued that the mass media "give the people what they want" and that the
viewers, listeners, and readers ultimately determine the content of the media by their
choices of what they will read, view, or hear. Whether or not this is a valid characterization of
the role of the mass in relation to the media, it is only an arc of circular reasoning unless
there is independent evidence of what the people do want. More particularly, there is great
need to know what people do with the media, what uses they make of what the media now
give them, what satisfactions they enjoy, and, indeed, what part the media play in their
personal lives. Here is a discussion of some of the functions the media may perform in the
lives of the members of the mass society.
Role of mass in relation to mediaWhat it really is?
It is all too clear that mass media "campaigns" do not have the power to brainwash or to
induce radical changes. What we have learned from these years of research is how complex
the process of mass persuasion really is.
The study of the "uses and gratifications" of mass communications proceeds from the
assumption that the social and psychological attributes of individuals and groups shape their
use of the mass media rather than vice versa. This is the approach that asks the question, not
"What do the media do to people?" but, rather, "What do people do with the media?“. Some
of the earliest media studies in this regard focused on problems of uses and gratifications:
why women listen to soap operas, the gratifications provided by quiz programs, the functions
of newspaper reading, the motives for getting interested in serious music on the radio, are
What People do with Media?
The favourite answer of the popular-culture writers to this question is that they use it for
escape. People are deprived and alienated, it is suggested, and so they turn to the dreamlike
world of the mass media for substitute gratifications, the consequence of which is still further
withdrawal from the arena of social and political action.
Every-day roles in modern society give rise to tensions or drives (stemming from alienation or
felt deprivation) which lead one to high exposure to mass media with its characteristic
context (e.g. the movie palace) and its characteristic content (e.g. fantasy) from which, via
psychological processes such as identification, one can obtain compensatory gratification
and, perhaps as an unanticipated consequence, "narcotization" of other role obligations.
Such use of the mass media, in other words, would have negative feedback to one's everyday
Thus the drives which lead one to mass media exposure, or high exposure itself, or the social
context of exposure, or the content of the media, or the psychological process involved in
mass media consumption are singled out and labelled "escapist."
What leads one to ‘ESCAPES’?
Drives: deprivation, alienation, etc : The theorists of escape suggest that alienation is the
starting point for any uses of the mass media . Alienation may mean the feeling of
powerlessness or meaninglessness, or the feeling of ideological or social isolation. Alienation
produces the desire to escape, a desire which the mass media are presumed to be
instrumental in satisfying. Johnstone studied adolescents' use of the media and found, for
example, that the lower one's self-esteem the more time one spends with TV; the less one
has of whatever it is that one's schoolmates happen to value (grades, athletic prowess,
money), the more heavily one is exposed to the media. A drive, in other words, may well be
"escapist," but its fulfilment may or may not be. Escape may or may not be the result of the
operation of such a drive.
High exposure : The foregoing evidence suggests that increased media exposure may be
sought as a means of escape from everyday role situations. Also the feelings of attraction to
the peer group are highly predictive of mass media behaviour- group listening to popular
music, for example, serves the socially integrated adolescent as much as listening alone to
popular music, or watching TV, appeases the isolate.
Escapist content : Escapist worlds, for most critics, are made up of unreal or improbable
people who are very good or very bad (or very good-bad) and whose successes and failures
conveniently cater to the supposed wishes of the audience. Vicarious participation in the
lives and adventures of such fictional characters is considered escapism.
The social context of media exposure: Rather than the specific content of the media,
however, there might be some reason to believe that it is the situation in which media
exposure occurs which, per se, provides much of the opportunity to escape. Going to the
movies or to the theatre absolves one of certain responsibilities: one is permitted, by society,
to cut oneself off from other roles.
The psychological process : Escape, for most theorists who have thought in these terms,
seems to mean identifying with a star or hero to the point that one loses oneself in a dream
which cannot possibly have any feedback to real life. Horton and Wohl have given the label
"para-social interaction" to the kind of program aimed, they say, at lonely and alienated
viewers and offering companionship and inviting "interaction." Such programs, it is
suggested, bolster the real-life ego rather than overwhelm it. Surely these programs also
offer possibilities for escape, but exposure to them involves something quite different from
the process of identification or identity loss.
Consequences : It is certainly true that the media must affect the performance of one's social
roles by virtue of the mere number of hours invested in mass media exposure. But the more
subtle problem is to specify exactly the way in which particular patterns of exposure feed
back to particular social roles, whether the feedback is functional or not, and whether it is a
consequence of exposure per se or exposure to particular content.