It is interesting to note how the analysis of media's influence on the community at large moved away from the Frankfurt school of the early twentieth century to Lazarsfeld's reassessment then back to a re-examination of some of the underlying theories of the Frankfurt school, albeit with some profound alterations, at the end of the twentieth century (Rothenberg, 1997). Today, the message of the media is often to encourage the individuals to act in a collective manner. There is a contradiction in the advertising of consumer goods, for example, that promote individuality, but that target millions of viewers.
Anecdotally, there is much evidence that mass media do affect behavior, or at least language. Catch-phrases, such as "yada yada yada" from Seinfeld enter the American language as millions of viewers watch the same television program week after week. News media are increasingly owned by a small number of corporations who seek symbiotic relationships between their news and entertainment groups. Never at any time in human history--prior to the end of the twentieth century--have individuals around the globe been able to witness a single event through television and the Internet simultaneously.
This topic could be used as the basis for a research paper in order to examine the various approaches to studying mass media that have been explored over the twentieth century. The movement away from the idea that media controls the audience, and the movement back to that idea could be a second theme to a research project.
Marx held that the social being determined an individual's consciousness. From this, he also developed the idea that individuals may not always act within the best interests of their own class, but instead can be influenced by other classes. This is where the relationship to media comes in. Barber has developed a similar idea that he calls "embedding." In Barber's view, economic systems are embedded in the soci...