FROM MEDIA EFFECTS TO SYSTEM THEORY: THE JOURNEY OF COMPARATIVE RESEARCH IN POLITICAL COMMUNICATION

Paolo Mancini ; Dipartimento Istituzioni e Società , Università di Perugia, Perugia, Italia

Fulltext: pdf (104 KB), Croatian, Pages 23 – 37

Abstracts
Departing from the criticisms that have been raised towards the volume Comparing
Media Systems (Hallin and Mancini, 2004) I’ll try to discuss which
consequences the adoption of the “concept” of system may imply for media
studies, what its advantages are and what risks. The first part of the article is
devoted to discussing how and when the notion of “system” has been used in
political science starting from the work of Easton, Almond and Powell and
many others. I’ll try to highlight which are the main points of strength and
weakness and which definitions have been used. Then I’ll move to the field
of communication studies: here I’ll show how there has been a shift from the
study of the effects of the message towards a more general approach linking
the media to the surrounding context. I will focus mainly on the work of
Blumler and Gurvitch who have been among the first scholars to use such a
concept in political communication comparative research. Particular attention
will be devoted to the discussion of the notion of “system” as deriving from
system theory and functionalist approach. The last part of the text is devoted
to discussing similarities and differences in the use that political scientists and
media scholars have made of the concept of “system”.

Keywords
system; comparative research; media studies; politics; mass media