Ecemhan Seven COM500A Theories in Communication & Media Reaction Paper 1

| September 5, 2016

Ecemhan Seven


Theories in Communication & Media

Reaction Paper 1

September 5th, 2012

Communication as Culture

James W. Carey, analyzes communication in two views: transmission and ritual. Transmission view is seen as the commonest in our culture Carey states, and what generates the parts of this view, are all means that transmits the message. That is to say, the message is important only with its transmitter, receiver, and channels; which is all about giving the information to others. Conversely, ritual communication view handles this social-scientific approach mentioned above in an utterly different way.

In a ritual definition, communication is linked to terms such as “sharing,” “participation,” “association,” “fellowship,” and “the possession of a common faith.” This definition exploits the ancient identity and common roots of the terms “commonness,” “communion,” “community,” and “communication.” A ritual view of communication is directed not toward the extension of messages in space but toward the maintenance of society in time; not the act of imparting information but the representation of shared beliefs. (Carey, p. 15)

It sees both parts (sender and receiver) as participants that both joins the process, whereas the message is seen as a shared experiment. What being shared here is thought, which is public, ‘because it depends on a publicly available stock of symbols’ (Carey, p. 22), and the important thing is the transmission of thoughts, not the information activity. Also, I like the example that teaching a child how to get from home to school and how it leads to three different mapping spaces as visual, oral, and kinesthetic and getting to know that thought is the construction of these maps.

In addition, by examining telegraph in detail, Carey could see the impacts of this way of communication on socio-economic structure of the society. According to transmission view, telegraph takes on the role of only the channel of the message being transmitted. In ritual view, telegraph symbolizes a communication instrument which could manage to change society’s thoughts and/or beliefs. For instance, newspapers manage to report the case and transmits message directly right after it is written. On the other hand, readers of the newspaper interpret the case based on their beliefs so that the message is changed according to ritual model which argues news is not only an information but also a fiction.

In Carey’s essays, there is a discussion between Lippmann and Dewey’s public opinion views in mass media. According to Lippmann an effective public opinion occurs when people’s minds make up the correct representations of the world where newspapers are efficient doing it. Yet, Dewey states public opinion is formed with systematic discussions. “The purpose of news is not to represent and inform but to signal, tell a story, and activate inquiry” (Carey, p. 62).

I tend to agree with Dewey’s point of view in this case. It is unquestionable that the media has a huge impact on society as well as in public opinion. Depending on the objective, the media can shape the public opinion in different ways. For example, after the attacks of 9/11 the media gave a huge coverage of the incident and exposed Osama guilty as they were told by the authorities. This shaped the public opinion in a way of supporting the war on terrorism, and the same happened with the war on Iraq. Thus, if media received an inaccurate information so the society supported a wrong cause, this would be the power of public opinion influence.

As mentioned above, media has a huge impact on society that it even forms its identity. As journalism is seen as a cultural resource, newspapers have become the basis for the production and maintenance of culture. Mind and conscious take shape correspondingly with the form of communication, as it has evolved along with technology, whether it is newspaper, radio, television, or Internet; as of now social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Finally, the most important thing that Carey points out and which I agree mostly is, communication process is a process that can easily be manipulated, if what being shared is people’s opinions.


Carey, James W. (1992). Communication as Culture: New York: Routledge.




Transmission model was some kind of a status quo Carey wrote.

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