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Media Cultivation Concept

Updated on February 11, 2010

Undoubtedly media have the power to form social attitudes and to manipulate opinions and viewpoints. One concept trying to explain the manner in which media exercise this power is the cultivation theory.

The theory originated in the 1960s and 70s. Its initial focus was on television. Its author, professor George Gerbner, argues that television is a tool that 'cultivates' mass opinions. People are likely to assume the most widespread televised interpretations of reality. Media have the power to generate and maintain political, social, global and cultural perceptions.

This form of influence is indirect and in no manner aggressive. Its effects are subtle and gradual. They work slowly to impose mass notions and understandings, thus giving birth to overall social understandings and attitudes.

Changing attitudes towards violence illustrate perfectly cultivation theory. Violence is omnipresent. It appears in news, in movies, even in sitcoms. The pervasive presence of violence makes people cautious and suspicious.

People lose their confidence and start worrying about crime and the manner in which violence can affect their own life. The Project of Media Ownership carried out a survey, in which 84 percent of individuals questioned said that they worried about becoming the victims of crime or about having a relative suffer its consequences.

Cultivation theory can nowadays be modified to include print media, web media and broadcast media. The trends and techniques used in all follow the same basic principles.

People are entirely media-dependent for obtaining information. Even if some are willing to analyze statements media make, the majority of people accept media reports as universal truth. The power of media has been understood long ago and cultivation theory still proves to be perfectly valid.


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