Society and mass communication: summary

Society and mass communication: summary of Bentivenga’s book. Mass society, from manipulation to propaganda, the limited effects of the media, the theory of functionalism and the approach to uses and gratifications, the cultural industry, cultural studies, agenda setting (29 pages pdf format)


The mass society
from climate change created by industrialization, the  company’s mass can be defined in various ways according to the various authors who have studied the characters. First of all, it can be said that mass society is a society in which the institutions relating to the different social subsystems are organized in such a way as to deal with vast groups of people considered as undifferentiated units of a ” mass “.
The typical traits of mass society are sought in functionally differentiated societies, that is, societies composed “atomistically” of individuals with different social status and with access to different systems.

Saint-Simon tries to answer the question of mass society by defining the concept of “organic society”, that is, considering society as a large organism whose subjects are mere
parts of it. This “organism” lives and develops in balance with all its elements. A single change of only one of these elements and the balance is compromised. In order to maintain this balance, society must be reorganized on a scientific basis.
This is Saint-Simon’s “social physiology” which considers the differentiation of the parts of the social organism as something inevitable that can be controlled and organized on a scientific basis.

What is mass society in sociology


Next in Saint-Simon we have Comte , the father of sociology . Comte considers society as an organism in which all parties cooperate for its development. This conception involves a division of tasks between the various subjects to maintain a certain balance, thus introducing the concept of specialization. However useful it may be, the latter carries the risk of an excess of specialization such as to weaken the overall spirit. In short, specialization can divide individuals, thus giving rise to social division and forms of disorganization. According to another scholar, Tönnies, the Gemeinschaft (community) refers to a harmonious union, and the Gesellschaft (society) is impersonal and anonymous.
Tönnies predicts that in industrial society the “sets of common feelings” with which individuals unite will disappear.
Thus there is an isolation of individuals which will establish in society a climate that Durkheim defines as “anomie”, that is, the lack of norms.
This last concept is part of the reflection on the morality of society.



Through the categories of mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity, Durkheim explains the complex web of relationships in a society.
Mechanical solidarity derives from the similarity between individuals and is characterized by giving life to a collective being.
Organic solidarity, on the other hand, derives from the diversity of individuals and lives on following the introduction of numerous formal relationships.
In a society characterized by the results of these studies, it can be said that:

  • individuals live in isolation
  • they are given a way to live almost exclusively relationships based on impersonality
  • they are relatively free from binding social pressures.


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