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Agenda Setting

Agenda setting is a theory about the transfer of salience from the media coverage to the pictures in people’s minds, according to Maxwell McCombs. In other words, agenda-setting theory assumes that the mass media filter the reality and influence the public agenda through prioritizing issues or attributes of salience. Since 1972 when McCombs and Donald Shaw first published their Chapel Hill study in Public Opinion Quarterly, a plethora of studies have examined and extended the initial assumptions of this theory and developed three levels of agenda settings. Many scholars have studied different dimensions of this theory, and it has been widely applied in multiple countries, fields, and media channels.

This entry first provides the academic origins and tenets of agenda setting. Then, it elaborates the three ...

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