These ideas were initially developed in the latter half of the nineteenth century, at a time when rapid development of large factories in urban areas was drawing more and more people from rural areas to cities.
Class distinctions in cultural life continued to be very important. However, it also came to characterize the provision of recreation for… The idea of mass society originated in the conservative reaction to the French Revolution — For critics such as Hippolyte Tainethe real significance of the Revolution lay not in the constitutional changes it brought about but in the deep social upheaval it caused.
For these thinkers, the Revolution undermined traditional institutions such as the Roman Catholic Church and thus weakened the social bonds that held French society together. The Revolution, they argued, had not established liberty but, on the contrary, had allowed collective despotism free rein by weakening intermediary associations and communities.
What was most problematic, however, was the manner in which they entered politics: Crowd mentality was conceived as a contagious—and dangerous—form of popular enthusiasm. Crowd psychology influenced the later development of mass society theory. In fact, many social scientists used the concepts of crowd and mass interchangeably.
Similar themes emerged from the popularization of mass society theory in the midth century. After World War IIsocial scientists and philosophers such as William Kornhauser and Erich Fromm turned to the concept of mass society in an effort to explain the conditions that made possible the transformation of the democratic Weimar Republic into the totalitarian Third Reich.
Others, such as the American sociologists Robert Nisbet and C.
Wright Millssought to diagnose the apathyalienation, and general malaise they thought were afflicting modern societies. Courtesy of Michigan State University Mass society theory was based on the thesis that modernity had severely eroded the social fabric.
In mass society, individuals are at once subsumed in the social totality and estranged from one another.
Individuals belonging to the mass are detached or atomized. This separation does not preserve the uniqueness of each individual but, on the contrary, contributes to a process of social homogenization or leveling.
Thus, the condition of alienated individuals should not be confused with individual autonomy. The same social processes that isolate people in a mass society—the division of labourfor instance—also make them highly dependent on others. Unlike in the communities of old, however, this dependence is highly impersonal.
According to the German sociologist Theodor Geigertechnological advances created a society in which individuals are increasingly dependent on people they either do not know or do not care about. With the decline of intermediary institutions, the argument continued, individuals are deprived of their social ties and are subject to manipulation by the state through mass communication and mass mobilization.
Theorists of mass society, however, disagreed on the principal cause of social disaggregation, some seeing it as rapid urbanizationothers as booming population growth or an alienating model of industrial production see mass production.
Theories of mass society can be distinguished in terms of the kind of threat they associate with it. Viewed from this perspective, mass society or, more precisely, mass culture is characterized by a growing uniformity in tastes and an egalitarian leveling that leaves no place for excellence.
Critics of mass society can be found across the left — right ideological spectrum.
A minority of theorists, including the French sociologist Gabriel Tardeembraced mass society as a means of bringing together people of different backgrounds, occupations, and classes and giving them a sense of belonging to a single group.
Similarly, the American sociologist Edward Shils rejected standard criticisms of mass society as based on a caricature; indeed, he lauded mass society for its inclusiveness and its valorization of individuality.
A common critique was that they relied on a romantic and inaccurate representation of premodern communities. Moreover, the idea that individuals in modern societies are uprooted and atomized seemed to be refuted by studies showing the persistent relevance of interpersonal relationships, intermediary groups and associations, and social networks.
The image of mass society as a unified totality was also contested by the relatively new pluralist school in American political science. Studying local dynamics of power, pluralists such as Robert A. Dahl argued that society is not a monolithic mass and it is not ruled by a united elite.
Rather, it is shaped by the intervention of diverse groups representing a plurality of interests. Although mass society theory has lost much of its appeal, some of its themes have been revived in work since the s by so-called neo-Tocquevillian theorists such as Robert D.
Putnamwho argued that democracy is threatened by the weakened state of civil society.Evolution of Mass Communication. and provide examples for how it’s used in context. Society today is in the midst of a technological revolution. Only a few years ago families were arguing over landline internet cable use and the constant disruptions from incoming phone calls.
Now, we have the ability to browse the web anytime on smart. Mass Society, Mass Culture, and Mass Communication: The Meaning of Mass1 KURT LANG GLADYS ENGEL LANG we first examine the intellectual and political context that fueled their criticisms, and then follow this with a highly condensed overview of both the origins of the critic of the mass society concept, summed the consequences of.
German prewar context. /Crisis theory; unity of theory and practice; analysis for the sake of revolution, socialist democracy, classless society. Culture theory: Critique of mass culture as suppression and absorption of negation, Critical Theory and Society: A Reader.
New York: Routledge, Mass society theory has been active in a wide range of media studies, where it tends to produce ideal visions of what the mass media such as television and cinema are doing to the masses. Therefore, the mass media are necessary instruments for achieving and maintaining mass societies.
Social Movement Theory: Mass Society Theory Overview. Mass society theory is an interdisciplinary critique of the collective identity that results from the mass commodification of culture and the. Mass society theory is a complex, multifaceted perspective.
As applied to social movements, however, the basic idea is that people who are socially isolated are especially vulnerable to the appeals of extremist movements.
The theory resonated with fears of fascist and communist movements in the.