There is the hypodermic syringe theory, where the media is seen to have an immediate and dramatic effect on behaviour, through the needle analogy.
The type of media is the syringe, whether it’s radio, TV etc. Wells book ‘War of the Worlds’ was adapted as a radio broadcast, about an alien invasion in New Jersey.
Also, the media used to be owned by numerous families, whereas it is now owned by a very small number of people through large mergers.
For example, Rupert Murdoch owns News International Corporation, which in turn owns over a third of UK newspapers, including The Sun, The Sunday Times and The Times.
However, this implies that people are strongly conditioned by opinion leaders and have little free will, which is not always the case. This argues that the media has a ‘drip-drip’ effect on audiences, over a longer period of time compared to the hypodermic syringe theory.
People are often not conscious that they are accepting the media’s views, for example, it is now the norm for young women to idealise the figure of models such as Kate Moss, even though most images of her in magazines have been photo-shopped and altered, therefore portraying an unrealistic body image.
Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955) claim that the media has limited influence on society, and that there are five variables which affect the way in which audiences respond.
These are: The amount of exposure that a certain issue gets The type of medium which is used.
The media is one of the main agents of socialisation for all age groups within society, and can come in the form of advertising, reality TV and entertainment programmes.
Sociologists tend to agree that the media influences its’ audience, although it has been debated on how this is.