Media dependency theory (also called media system dependency theory or simply dependency theory) holds that the mass media’s influence varies based on how much people need or use particular media. Instead of claiming that media effects are always powerful, or always limited, dependency theory seeks to explain why media have powerful effects in some cases and limited effects in others. This entry provides the background on the development of media dependency theory, summarizes the theory’s key tenets, and discusses how the theory relates to corporate reputation.


Media dependency theory developed out of the uses and gratifications approach to media research. The uses and gratifications approach was proposed by Elihu Katz in the late 1950s after much of the post–World War II communication research found only ...

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