Higher Education

Mass Communication Theory: Foundations, Ferment, and Future, 6th Edition

  • Stanley J. Baran Bryant University
  • Dennis K. Davis Pennsylvania State University
  • ISBN-10: 0495898872  |  ISBN-13: 9780495898870
  • 416 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2009, 2006, 2003
  • © 2012 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $177.75
  • Newer Edition Available
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MASS COMMUNICATION THEORY: FOUNDATIONS, FERMENT, AND FUTURE, Sixth Edition, provides a comprehensive, historically based introduction to mass communication theory. Clearly written with examples, graphics, and other materials to illustrate key theories, the text traces the emergence of two main bodies of mass communication theory--social/behavioral and critical/cultural--and concludes with a discussion of how these two traditions support the media literacy movement and might be combined to produce a new theory of mediated communication. The authors emphasize that media theories are human creations typically intended to address specific problems or issues. MASS COMMUNICATION THEORY: FOUNDATIONS, FERMENT, AND FUTURE, Sixth Edition, helps students develop an understanding of theory so they can make better use of media and play a role in the development of new media industries.

Features and Benefits

  • MASS COMMUNICATION THEORY: FOUNDATIONS, FERMENT, AND FUTURE, Sixth Edition, is widely respected as an accessible and balanced theory book, providing thorough and effective coverage of both social science theories and cultural theories.
  • Clearly written in an appealing and reader-friendly style, the text includes helpful examples, graphics, and other support materials throughout to better illustrate key theories and explore their importance.
  • The authors capably present a diverse selection of theories and perspectives while emphasizing that media theories are human creations typically intended to address specific problems or issues.
  • Each chapter includes one or more Thinking About Theory boxes that encourage students to apply mass communication theories to their own experiences and refine and discuss their interpretation of current events such as the war in Iraq, the war on drugs, and advertising of prescription drugs.

Table of Contents

1. Understanding and Evaluating Mass Communication Theory 3.
2. Four Eras of Mass Communication Theory.
3. The Rise of Media Industries and Mass Society Theory.
4. The Rise of Media Theory in the Age of Propaganda.
5. Normative Theories Of Mass Communication.
6. The Rise of Limited-Effects Theory.
7. Moving Beyond Limited Effects: Focus on Functionalism and Children.
8. The Emergence Of Critical And Cultural Theories Of Mass Communication.
9. Audience Theories: Uses, Reception, and Effects.
10. Media and Society: The Role of Media in the Social World.
11. Media and Culture Theories: Meaning-Making in the Social World.
12. Afterword: The Future of Media Theory and Research.

What's New

  • All statistics and examples have been updated.
  • Chapter specific updates including an examination of mass media industries today, trends in mass media theory development, and the inclusion of social media and networking.


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the main title. Select the main title's "About" tab, then select "What's New" for updates specific to title's edition.

For more information about these supplements, or to obtain them, contact your Learning Consultant.

Instructor Supplements

Online Instructor's Manual  (ISBN-10: 0840063172 | ISBN-13: 9780840063175)

Designed to assist faculty teaching a mass communication theory or media and society course, the Instructor's Manual offers assignment ideas, suggestions for audiovisual materials and for using many of the text's special features, syllabus preparation tools, and a sample syllabus. A Test Bank features chapter-by-chapter test questions in both multiple choice and discussion/essay formats. Available on the text's Instructor Book Companion Site.

Meet the Author

Author Bio

Stanley J. Baran

Stanley Baran is the founding chair of the Department of Communication at Bryant University, where he teaches courses in mass communication and communication theory. His academic interests include critical research in mass communication, mass media and social construction of reality, as well as development and improvement of media literacy skills. Dr. Baran has published 10 books, several scholarly articles, and sits or has sat on the editorial boards of numerous journals. His work has been translated into six languages. He was a Senior Fulbright Scholar, Institute for Journalisms und Kommunikationsforschung, Hannover, Deutschland, in 1997. He has served as a consultant for many corporations and organizations, including IBM, ABC, GTE, and Westin Hotels.

Dennis K. Davis

Dennis K. Davis is an emeritus professor in the College of Communications at Penn State University. His teaching and research interests include mass communication theory, new media literacy, international communication, research methods, and political communication. He has served as a tenured full professor at Cleveland State University, Southern Illinois University, and the University of North Dakota. He was director of the School of Communication at the University of North Dakota and has served as editor of the JOURNAL OF BROADCASTING & ELECTRONIC MEDIA, published by the Broadcast Education Association. He has co-authored four books on political communication, mass communication theory, and news audience research, as well as numerous articles, chapters, and reviews. He has headed divisions of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the National Communication Association. From 1979 to 1980, he was a Fulbright Senior Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Louvain la Neuve. His research has won the Donald McGannon Award for Social and Ethical Relevance in Communication Policy Research from Fordham University and the Broadcasting Preceptor Award from San Francisco State University. In 2010, he received the Distinguished Educator Award from the Mass Communication & Society Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The award recognizes teaching excellence and influence on pedagogy.