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Cultivation Theory

  • By: Christopher J. McKinley
  • In: Encyclopedia of Media Violence
  • Edited by: Matthew S. Eastin
  • Subject:Mass Communication, Aggression & Violence, Violence & Society

Perhaps no other perspective on media effects has generated such intense evaluation and controversy as cultivation theory. Television, as described by George Gerbner, the founder of cultivation theory, is the “dominant storyteller” in U.S. society—an object that is part of Americans’ daily routine from birth until death. Based on this assumption, there is no pre-television experience; rather, Americans grow up in a televised world that helps shape perceptions of society. Essentially, cultivation theory posits that television helps provide viewers with lessons on U.S. cultural values and ideologies. Although Gerbner’s ideas about cultivation originated nearly 50 years ago, television was, and still is, the most widely consumed channel of mass communication among U.S. citizens. Cultivation theory asserts that, unlike other forms of media, the public relies ...

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