The media “effects model”, just what is so wrong with it?

In other words. what isn’t wrong with the media “effects model”? As David Gauntlett points out in his article “the connections between people’s consumption of the mass media and their behaviour have remained persistently elusive”, so upon reflecting on this statement and the extent of his article, i found myself asking the question why are there no clear answers as to the effects mass media has on modern day society? In the past and still today, as Gauntlett points out, studies have taken the wrong approach to uncovering the effects of mass media, often showing to be very predictable and direct in their findings.

So after reading this article, there were three main points that stood out to me:

1. The “effects model” attacks the social problems of its subjects in a backwards manner:

Instead of focusing on the source such as the personal context of the individual, researchers tend to start their research with the media and try to draw their own conclusions on how they’ve affected the indivual. However, social factors should definitely be considered as the studies which begin with the focus on the individual rather than the media tend to draw different conclusions which may be misinformed and therefore not c0mpletely accurate. This “backwards” approach looks at the individuals rather than the society they are a part of, rather than society, in relation to mass media and as Gauntlett states: “the backwards approach fails to look at the bigger picture.” So wise, so true.

2. The “effects model” considers children to be incapable or incompetent:

In saying this, when studies of children’s behaviour are conducted using the media “effects model” they often refer to the developmental stages of a child’s life as a hierarchy of stages, often generalising them instead of individualising each case and considering them for the skills that they don’t appear to posess – they are observed as being totally dependent on adults with no apparent social skills or any idea of how to conduct themsleves in their natural environment (much like the teenagers of Gen Y nowadays come to think of it…).

3. The “effects model” is often based on misinformation or artificial studies:

Because of this fact, sociological studies conducted on the effects of mass media (there I go again, please excuse the repetition), are often expensive to and time consuing, so to the sociologists/researchers it only seems right or practical to focus on creating studies that are simple to conduct and of which are characterised/shaped by elemnts of artificiality and as a result, these heavily outnumber the extensive studies mentioned. These “artificial” studies are usually carried out in laboratories or what the researchers term “natural” settings, in situations where (unnaturally), a researcher will arrive unannounced to observe and note the activities they will immerse themselves in. Now because the real studies are conducted in an unnatural environement or assimilation of real life, for example a questionnaire, they aren’t actually capturing the interpersonal interactions that humans have with each other; rendering said information to be artificial and therefore cannot be equated or compared with other cases of similar nature.

So it has been made quite apparent to me that there is quite a lot that is not correct with the media “effects model” which leads me to question how this model is continually being used if its negative effects have been exposed? As Gauntlett points out about the model, “it assumes that the medium holds a singular and clear-cut ‘message’ which will be carried unproblematically to its audience.” hmmm … lots to ponder!



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