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Television and Social Theory

Television has been the object of theoretical reflection beginning with debates on “mass society” that heated up in the years following World War II. Residual concerns over the totalitarian temptation to which the vanquished Axis nations fell prey leading up to the war, the rise of the consumer capitalist economy in the West, and Cold War politics focusing on the Soviet Union and its allies made for serious discussion concerning the role of television within democratic society. In the postwar period, researchers and theorists turned the formerly pejorative phrase “mass society” into a descriptor of popular democracy and “liberal-pluralism triumphant.” (Bennett 1982:40) Television loomed large in this rethinking of postwar liberal democracy.

The relationship between the academic study of social communication and the development of ...

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