Sociologia della
10 marzo 2008
L’ascesa dei mass media:
la radio nella seconda guerra mondiale
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
“We Choose Human Freedom”
May 27, 1941 (radio address)
General Charles de Gaulle
parla alla BBC durante la guerra.
“La radio sarà per il ventesimo secolo
quello che la stampa è stata per il diciannovesimo
-Josef Goebbels, 1933.
Frank Capra
Why we fight
Leni Riefenstahl
La vittoria della fede
Imperialismo culturale: media e egemonia
americana nel secondo dopoguerra
Tre risposte al ‘problema’ del potere
dei media
a. Mass society theory
b. Mass communications theory
c. British cultural and media studies
In the first phase, which lasts from the turn
of the century to the late nineteen thirties the
media, where they were developed in
Europe and North America, were attributed
considerable power to shape opinion and
belief, change habitus of life, actively mould
behaviour and impose political systems even
against resistance. Such views were not
based on scientific investigation but were
based on empirical observation of the
sudden extension of the audience to large
majorities and on the great attraction of the
popular press, cinema and radio.
(Denis McQuail “The influence and effects
of mass media” in J. Curran et al (eds) Mass
Communication and Society. London: Open
University, 1977, p. 72)
Mass society theory
Mass media are a negative and disruptive force in
society and should be controlled.
Mass media have the power to directly influence the
attitudes and behavior of ordinary people.
People are vulnerable to the power of mass media
because they have become isolated and alienated from
traditional social institutions that have protected them
from propaganda and manipulation.
The social changes brought about by the disruptive
influence of mass media will result in the advent of
more authoritarian and centrally controlled societies.
Mass media also bring about the decline in cultural
standards and values by promoting trivial and
demeaning ideas and activities that threaten civilised
(citato in Kevin Williams Understanding Media Theory,
London: Arnold, 2003, p. 29)
The second stage extends from about 1940 to
the early 1960s and is strongly shaped by
growth of mass communication research in the
United States and the application of empirical
method to specific questions about the effects
and effectiveness of mass communication… In
practice, a small number of much cited studies
provided substance for the general view of
media effects and effectiveness… Basically this
version affirmed the ineffectiveness and
impotency of mass media and their
subservience to other more fundamental
components in any potential situation of
(McQuail 1977: 72/73)
Il modello di comunicazione di
Chi dice cosa a chi attraverso
quale canale con quale effetto
Who (says) What (to) Whom (in)
What Channel (with) What
(Harold Lasswell 1902-1978)
Mass communication research
The outcome of these [Hovland and Lasswell’s]
experiments was the recognition that the effect of a
particular item or image was not a simple linear
consequence of the content of that item or image.
Rather perceptions were conditioned by the
predispositions of audience members. People were
not the passive, isolated and impressionable entitites
of mass society theory but individuals who could
‘interpret what they saw and heard in line with their
own already established beliefs’. Above all people
exist within groups and their immediate set of social
relations was seen as an important determinant of
their understanding of media messages.
(Williams 2003: 174)
Mass communication research
In their study, The People’s Choice [1944], of a
presidential election they found the media did
not play a significant part in influencing how
people voted. Social characteristics such as
religion and class were seen as more important
factors in determining voting behaviour, with th
media reinforcing existing beliefs rather than
changing them. They argued personal influence
is significant in changing people’s opinion.
(Williams 2003: 174-175)
c. Cultural and media studies
Stuart Hall (1932-)
Il messaggio mediatico è una
struttura discorsiva o
linguistica, che dà
significato alla realtà e la
costruisce effettivamente,
ossia è una
(Stuart Hall ‘Encoding/Decoding’ in S. During (ed) The
Cultural Studies Reader. London and New York: Routledge,
1993, p. 923, c1980)
Before this message can have an ‘effect’ (however
defined), satisfy a need, or be put to a ‘use’, it must
first be appropriated as a meaningful discourse and
be meaningfully decoded. It is this set of decoded
meanings which ‘have an effect’, influence,
entertain, instruct or persuade, with very complex
perceptual, cognitive, emotional, ideological or
behavioural consequences. In a ‘determinate’
moment the structure employs a code and yields a
‘message’: at another determinate moment the
‘message’, via its decodings, issues into structures of
social practice.
(Stuart Hall ‘Encoding/Decoding’ in S. During (ed) The
Cultural Studies Reader. London and New York:
Routledge, 1993, p. 923)
My own view is that events, relations, structures do
have conditions of existence and real effects,
outside the spere of the discursive: but it is only
within the discursive, and subject to its specific
conditions, limits and modalities, do they have or
can be constructed within meaning… how things
are ‘represented’ and the ‘machineries’ and regimes
of representation in a culture do play a constitutive
and not merely a reflexive, after-the-event, role.
This gives questions of culture and ideology, and
the scenarios of representation – subjectivity,
identity, politics – a formative, not merely an
expressive, place in the constitution of social and
political life. (Stuart Hall ‘New Ethnicities” in D.
Morley and K. Chen eds Stuart Hall: Critical
Dialogues in Cultural Studies. London and New
York: Routledge, p. 443)
And here is now another example: I am at the
barber's, and a copy of Paris- Match is offered to
me. On the cover, a young Negro in a French
uniform is saluting, with his eyes uplifted, probably
fixed on a fold of the tricolour. All this is the
meaning of the picture. But, whether naively or not,
I see very well what it signifies to me: that France
is a great Empire, that all her sons, without any
color discrimination, faithfully serve under her flag,
and that there is no better answer to the detractors
of an alleged colonialism than the zeal shown by
this Negro in serving his so- called oppressors. I
am therefore again faced with a greater
semiological system: there is a signifier, itself
already formed with a previous system (a black
soldier is giving the French salute); there is a
signified (it is here a purposeful mixture of
Frenchness and militariness); finally, there is a
presence of the signified through the signifier.
(Roland Barthes ‘Myth Today’ in Mythologies

Seconda guerra mondiale - Libero