Communication Theories


Communication theories are just that…..Theories about how the media communicates to audiences. Theorists are educators who come up with different ideas and theories on how audiences engage with and use the media. Theories have strengths and weaknesses. NO THEORY IS 100% ACCURATE. All audiences are different, all cultures are different and we all interact and use media differently.

Communication theories are ways of understanding the relationship between the mass media and its audiences. In order for us to think about communication theories we must appreciate that every individual interprets the media differently, therefore no one theory can work independently for all audiences.

Since the early days of mass communication, media theorists have attempted to describe the process of communication.

Communication theories encourage us to step away from our everyday experience of the media and think about them from a critical distance.

As part of this Unit of work – Agency & Control you will need to be draw on the communication theories and demonstrate an understanding of how and why they are explained.

You will be required to know the following points relating to each of the 5 Communication Theories:

• Name of the Communication Theory
• Year it was developed
• Name of the Theorist (s)
• What the theory suggests
• Whether its audience is – Passive or Active
• Evidence supporting the Communication Theory
• Be able to compare and contrast the theory with another
• Strengths & Weaknesses to the Communication Theory

A critical eye is crucial…

Communication theories have limits and because they are theoretical they often prove to be erroneous in practice. In an attempt to capture a snapshot of media communication, they can oversimplify the process and even lead to confusion between the theory and the process it describes.

As Media students, you should keep this in mind as you move through your study of Media Agency & Control. Maintain a critical eye and test all theories against real-life examples, which will point to the strengths and weaknesses of each. Remember, if we really did understand how the media influences audiences, this area of study would not exit.