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Conceptualized by Elihu Katz and directed by mentor Paul F. Lazarsfeld at Columbia University, the 1955 book Personal Influence revolutionized understandings of how people interact with media institutions by reviewing and critiquing the substantial media theories that primarily dominated social thought at the time. Highlighting their principal argument, the duo subtitled the volume The Part People Play in the Flow of Mass Communication, thus demonstrating their key implication: mass media influence is not always one that is direct but is instead frequently mediated interpersonally through key figures who position social issues they have extricated from mass media sources.

Prior to the book's publication, social scientists studying mass communication largely believed that people assigned weight and relevance to information learned through media sources by their own means ...

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