Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-17, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 29 May, 2017 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2017.


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Mass media

core definition

The mass media refers to print and electronic forms of communication that are aimed at a widely dispersed audience.

explanatory context


analytical review (undated) states:

Mass media is communication—whether written, broadcast, or spoken—that reaches a large audience. This includes television, radio, advertising, movies, the Internet, newspapers, magazines, and so forth.


Elwell's Glossary of Sociology (undated) defines mass media as:

Forms of communication designed to reach a vast audience without any personal contact between the senders and receivers. Examples would include newspapers, magazines, video recordings, radio and television


Schaefer (2002, p. 137) states:

By mass media sociologists refer to the print and electronic instruments of communication that carry messages to often widespread audiences. Print media include newspapers, magazines, and books; electronic media include radio, television, motion pictures, and the Internet. Advertising, which falls into both categories, is also a form of mass media.
The pervasiveness of the mass media in soci- ety is obvious. Consider a few examples. TV dinners were invented to accommodate the millions of “couch potatoes” who won’t miss their favorite television programs. Today screen time encompasses not just television viewing but also playing video games and surfing the Internet. Candidates for political office rely on their media consultants to project a winning image both in print and in the electronic media. World leaders use all forms of media for political advantage, whether it is to gain territory or to make a successful bid for the Olympics. AIDS education projects in parts of Africa and Asia owe much of their success to media campaigns.

associated issues


related areas

See also

content analysis


Researching the Real World Section 5

Sources, undated, 'The Role and Influence of Mass Media', available at,articleId-26946.html, accessed 14 March 2013, page not available 22 December 2016.

Elwell's Glossary of Sociology, undated, available at, page not available 20 December 2016.

Schaefer, R.T., 2002, 'Chapter 7: The Mass Media' available at, accessed 14 March 2013, page not available 22 December 2016.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2017

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