Literature and Mass Culture: Volume 1, Communication in Society by Leo LöwenthalThis first volume of the collected writings of sociologist Leo Lowenthal contains his classic theoretical and historical writings on the relationship of art to mass culture. This book series presents Lowenthals contributions to a theory of the role of communication in modern society.
This volume lays out the basis for a theory of mass culture. Lowenthal demonstrates that the juxtaposition of a lowmass culture and a highesoteric culture did not originate in contemporary industrial, bourgeois society but can be traced back to the Middle Ages and antiquity.
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Mass society is any society of the modern era that possesses a mass culture and large-scale, impersonal, social institutions. In the work of early 19th century political theorists such as Alexis de Tocqueville , the term was used in discussions of elite concerns about a shift in the body politic of the Western world pronounced since the French Revolution. Such elite concerns centered in large part on the " tyranny of the majority ", or mob rule. In 20th century neo-Marxist accounts, such as those of the Frankfurt School , mass society was linked to a society of alienated individuals held together by a culture industry that served the interests of capitalism. Conservative accounts in the 20th century critiqued mass society from a different perspective.
THE ERA OF MASS SOCIETY AND MASS CULTURE
Mass Communication. Our description of the eras of mass communication theory begins with a review of some of the earliest thinking about media. These ideas were initially developed in the latter half of the nineteenth century, at a time when rapid development of large factories in urban areas was drawing more and more people from rural areas to cities. At the same time, ever more powerful printing presses allowed the creation of newspapers that could be sold at declining prices to rapidly growing populations of readers. Although some theorists were optimistic about the future that would be created by industrialization, urban expansion, and the rise of print media, many were extremely pessimistic Brantlinger, They blamed industrialization for disrupting peaceful, rural communities and forcing people to live in urban areas merely to serve as a convenient workforce in large factories, mines, or bureaucracies. These theorists were fearful of cities because of their crime, cultural diversity, and unstable political systems.