Describe the differences between objective and interpretative approaches to the study of communication

In the objective view, realism is assumed to be awaiting discovery. In other words, the certainty has not yet been realized. Earlier researchers in the objective view have tried to come up with theories that present a coherent and consistent account of reality. Contrary to that are the interpretive theories whose standing point is in the social context. The understanding of the interpretative theories is that information and its implication to the people is dependent on the people’s point of view and is subject to the outcome of scrutiny by the people.

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In a broader sense, the objective theories are methodical, possessing a technical background. Their goal is to test proposed arguments in order to make a clear understanding of facts. They tend to ensure that authenticity is presented in an accurate way. The objective views are remarkable in determining the endeavors and certainty of the general laws. Avoidance of biasness by the researcher is excellent in the objective theories. They do not incorporate personal views of the researcher in the outcome of the research course. In the onset of the research, the objective theories begin with a notion of predictable outcomes. These predictions are the building blocks of the outcome in the objective theory. They tend to search for rationalization of the reasons for the responses that occur due to specific motivators in nature, with the use of scientific techniques of research that provide quantitative analysis of data derived from practical survey and analytical research.


Conversely, interpretative theories base their arguments and understanding on communication portraying that reality is a communal affair. The language of a community is portrayed as the base of realism. If pursued further, they tend to lay emphasis on written language as the starting point for reality. The interpretative theories tend to have a specific standpoint that they assume is the most important position for putting forward factors concerning reality. They tend to have a biased approach towards the truth. Personal opinion of the researcher is welcome in the outcome of the findings. Each finding is explained in its own circumstance. They also tend to promote believe that the intention of research is cognizant of the prevailing situation, leaving researchers to incorporate their own ideologies in the research findings.



Identify the standards of good objective and good interpretative theory.


A good objective theory seeks to produce the final information from the data acquired in the research as well as explaining the meaning of all data appearing on the findings. It also gives a forecast of future expectations in a straight forward manner. Hypotheses test is clear-cut with realistic efficacy. The objective theory seeks to answer the research questions with simplicity through data analysis and providing information that is relevant to the research. The theory tends to culminate in a meaningful discussion which culminates in a realistic conclusion that avoids unreasonable complexity. The conclusion aims at providing clear views that are adaptable and easy to understand.


For the interpretive theory, the acquired perception of the people is very important. A good interpretative theory tends to appreciate this new perception of people, while trying to explain their principles, their approach towards beauty and communal associations as well as the general development of the social order.


Define what is meant by a ‘community of agreement’ and how it contributes to the development of good interpretive theory


A community of agreement means a situation whereby all the research findings are shared between all the researchers, before a conclusion is made. Theories are drawn from conclusions made jointly. It means that the final decision is not made by an individual in a particular research.

Question two: The Public Sphere


The answers to this question are primarily based on Kellner’s reading: ‘The Dialectics of the Public Sphere’.


Describe the purpose of the ‘Bourgeois’ public sphere.


In the early 1700, the Bourgeois public sphere came in to being. It acted as a go-between the societal and community life. This included the relations, financial and general associations within the society. The Bourgeois public sphere was important in helping to suppress the opinions of individuals leading to discovery of a wider range of interests from the community in general. It consisted of several bodies that worked to achieve a common goal in the media. This played an important role in the political arena. It appeared in an assortment of media including journals and newspapers. It was a common issue of debate in parliament as well as social gatherings. Mainly, people were discussing matters that affected every one in general. It was promoting rights to the freedom of assembly and speech. The press was also free from scrutiny and every one was free to air their personal views concerning the issues in the debate. In the 18th century, these were the rights that were incorporated in the institutions such as the constitution and the judicial systems.



What effect does the industrial production of culture have on the public sphere?


The public sphere has suffered adversely due to Industrial production of culture. It has been modified and made commercial in order to fit the interests of the few elites in the society. The people have turned to dancing to the tune of a group of elites whose quest to satisfy their interest is insatiable. Public opinion is no longer a matter of significance. These elites tend to manipulate and dominate all the debatable issues so long as they are favoured by the outcome. They have no interest on issues that are deemed to bring ‘nothing’ of much benefit to them. The once free debates are no longer meaningful and have been traded with advertisements from commercial representatives whose work is to advertise political debates. In general, it has resulted in a negative approach towards effecting individual freedoms.


Individuals are not allowed to challenge arguments from the elite group. The arguments are presented in an incomprehensible manner that is difficult to criticize. Individuals have been discouraged from taking part in the debate hence the general public has been turned in to audience, who accept all that is heard without having a chance to appreciate fellow spectator’s views.


Question three: Globalisation


To answer this question you should have read the reading by Colin Sparks.


What role do media play in globalisation?


The Media is a major source of information to the public. Through media, many occurrences have come to be known globally. Media ensures that information flow from one part of the world to another is accomplished. The media has made the world a global village due to the fact that gathering information from one place to another and transmitting it all over the world takes a very short time. Communication through telephone and the media has played a major role in ensuring the distribution of information without necessarily sending messengers all over the word to convey information as it would be were there no media. It is practical in the contemporary world. An example is that if a rise in the fuel prices is experienced in the oil producing nations, it does not take long before the increase is known globally. This is one essential role of the media in promoting globalization.


How is the nation state undermined from above (i.e. at the global) and below (i.e. at the local)?


The state has no control over the activities of the global media. The extent of the global media operations is wider than a nation state. Any corporation that extends its activities beyond one state can not be subject to the control of any state. This is seen as a reduction of the powers of a sovereign state that enjoys its autonomy within the state boundaries. The emergence of international media has greatly undermined the sovereignty of nation states since there is no direct control of the activities of these international media. This has led to adverse impact on the nations’ economic and political stability. International media tends to report on issues that are mainly geared towards challenging the existing governments or culture of a certain state. The negative effects may range from investors holding back their willingness to invest in certain nation states, or tourists failing to visit some nation states. This is a threat to a states’ sovereignty.

On the other hand, if local media promote the adherence of the local terms without promoting the globally accepted standards, a nation state will be undermined in that whatever it produces does not comply with the international standards. Many nation states whose media lay so much emphasis to local issues are left lagging behind as the world advances in new technologies and industrialization. The people within that nation are disadvantaged since they do not get information about new developments in areas of medicine, technology, communication and the general well being of communities. Communities tend to live in isolation especially if they lay more emphasis to the conservative ideas of traditional lifestyles. An example is where certain communities refuse to study the western technology with a view of maintaining their culture. They end up being left behind as new technologies propel the world economies forward.


Question four: Media Effects


You should have read Griffin to answer this question.


Use Gerbner’s cultivation theory to explain what impact watching lots of television has on your perceptions of the real world.


There are three main effects that are put forward by Gerbner’s cultivation theory on watching television.


The first theory suggests that, the more time spent on watching television by a person, the more a negative conception of the world as a place full of violence is likely to register in the mind. This is a clear discrepancy arising from information through the media causing an individual to deviate away from reality or what the mind has known before.

There is also the theory which proposes that the more an individual watches television, the more likely he is to believe in the information disseminated through it. Gerbner portrays the thoughts of an individual who watches television most of the time to have the same opinion as those of the presenters.

In his third theory, the replication of events in the mind to match with those in the real world is portrayed in people who spend a lot of time watching the television. He states that people who have once experienced an encounter with violent experiences pay much attention to violent action in the television. He referred this to as “the effect of resonance”.


Question five: Identity and Symbolic Interactionism


You should have read Griffin to answer this question.


Two key claims of Symbolic Interactionism are that ‘reality is socially constructed’ and that ‘meaning is negotiated through the use of language’. Using Symbolic Interactionism explain what role the media plays in the construction of identity. Give an example.


The significance of reality is realized through communication in order to learn the sense attributed to it. This communication comes in terms of language, thought and actions. People demonstrate their reasoning and their attitudes towards reality through media. They produce signs and visible ideas through drawings to portray their feelings and attitude towards every other member of the society. These symbols are also used to demonstrate feelings of self esteem and confidence.

The media plays an important in constructing identity. Magazines may play a role of a swift fix of lustrous entertainment, which encourages self-assurance and present information about interaction and everyday life which can be useful in many ways. Programs in televisions, the internet and video shows also can offer guidance.



  1. Colin S. Globalization, Development and the Mass Media. Hardback. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.
  2. Griffin A Community of Agreement: Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 1999

Kellner, D. The Public Sphere, and Democracy: 2nd ed. Toronto: H

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