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What Is Mass Communication?

Mass Communication By Rupal Jain

The term “Mass” is denoted as a great/large volume, range and extent (of people and production) and reception of messages. “Communication” is defined by Dental Dictionary as the technique of conveying thoughts or ideas between two people or groups of people.

It refers to the giving and taking of meaning, the transmission and reception of messages; whereas; “Mass Communication” is seen as institutionalised production and generalized diffusion of symbolic goods via the fixation and transmission of information or symbolic content, it is explained as a communication which is directed to or reaches an appreciable fraction of the population

Five characteristics of Mass Communication have been identified by Cambridge University’s John Thompson which is explained below: -

1. Firstly, it comprises both technical and institutional methods of production and distribution.

2. Secondly, it involves the commoditisation of symbolic forms as the production of materials relies on its ability to Manufacture and sell large quantities of the work.

3. Mass Communications third characteristic is the separate contexts between the production and reception of information.

4. The fourth is in its reach of those far removed in time and space in comparison to the producers.

5. Finally, Thompson notes fifth characteristics of Mass Communication which involves information distribution. This is a one of many form of communication whereby products are mass produced and disseminated to a great quantity of audiences.

Mass Communication is rightly defined as a delivery of message to target audience utilising mass media such as national press and television. Whereas, Mass Media is a means of public communication reaching a large audience. It is a term used to denote a section of the media specifically envisioned and designed to reach a very large audience such as the population of a nation state.

Different types of Mass Media are Television, Radio, Cinema, Internet, Newspapers, Magazines, Journal, Other Print Media (like pamphlets, brochures and posters) and Outdoor Media (which includes bill boards, signs, flying billboards, skywriting and blimps).

J.R. Finnegan Jr. and K. Viswanath (1997) have identified 3 effects, or functions of media: - a) The knowledge gap; b) The agenda setting; c) Cultivation of shared public perceptions.

Thus, the term Mass Communication refers to a medium that appeal to a mass audience in terms of demographics and psychographics; using widely circulating media such as newspapers, magazines, television and radio to inform the general public.

Written By: Rupal Jain, Lecturer, Atharva Institute of Management Studies (MUMBAI) She can be reached at


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