Lucky for us Media Studies 102 students that we’re assigned Elihu Katz’s reading, “Communications Research since Lazarsfeld” right before midterms! Katz’s piece definitely summarized a lot of the points we have been going over in class, especially a lot of different theories and concepts regarding media effects before him (including Lazarsfeld, since he was apparently Katz's mentor). Although Katz’s analysis seems more moderate than anything else, he does an effective job in laying out the different cards. He presents three distinct paradigms – institutional, critical, and technological – through which he goes through different views of mass media’s influence.
Originally a sociologist himself, Katz has a particular interest in the decoding process of media analysis. Something that I sided with was when Katz discussed how media’s influence is only as powerful as the gatekeepers allow it to be. Even trying to decode the meaning of something is to give it power, and only then does it have any ability to influence culture or society. He claims that media is the link between interpersonal networks, and through that process it is a strong influence of social structure. That makes me wonder, if mass media was taken out of the equation, would social structures and class still function and interact in the same way? I’d like to see a scenario like this played out – perhaps a Brave New World specifically concerning media influence.