In this chapter we will be looking at some of the ways in which the mass media can be examined. The study of the mass media, as we suggested in Chapter 1, provides a useful starting point for doing sociology, for three reasons. First, the mass media are something we all know about and make use of. Just about everybody watches television, listens to the radio, reads newspapers, magazines or comics and is bombarded by advertising messages. In short, the mass media provide us with a readily accessible source of material for research purposes. Second, the study of the mass media involves a wide range of research techniques from social surveys, through observation to analysis of media content. Third, there are many different views about the mass media and about how they should be researched. Some social researchers think that it is important to study the effects of the mass media on the audience. An alternative approach considers the way that the audience makes use of the mass media. Some researchers consider how media messages are produced, while others look at the content of the messages.
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