Mass Society

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  • A sociological concept referring to a fragmented society composed of isolated, lonely, and powerless individuals. Proponents of the theory view modern society as characterized by the breakdown of community and by the presence of increasingly heterogeneous and individualistic trends resulting from industrialization, modernization, and urbanization. Mass-society theorists of the 19th and 20th centuries included, among others, Louis de Bonald, Joseph de Maistre, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Émile Durkheim, Gustave Le Bon, Georg Simmel, Ferdinand Tönnies, Herbert Marcuse, William Kornhauser, Karl Mannheim, and Hannah Arendt.

    Mass-society theorists hypothesized that a large yet isolated population was vulnerable to manipulation by powerful institutions. The major institutions in a mass society are centralized and therefore designed and organized to address “the masses.” In the 1920s and 1930s, as broadcast ...

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