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Two-Step Flow Theory

The two-step flow theory is one of the theoretical models of communication which predicts that the effects of media on audiences are limited. Specifically, this approach suggests that the mass communication process is divided into two phases: At first, the media message reaches only a few individuals within society, the so-called opinion leaders. In a second step, these subjects carry the information to larger groups of individuals. The discovery of this intermediate element became one of the most important contributions in the history of the functionalist sociology of the media. This theory challenged the mechanistic principle of the direct effect as referred to in the hypodermic needle theory, according to which the message would have a direct impact on an atomized and vulnerable society. Two-step ...

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