To read this content please select one of the options below:

The Role of Mass Media in the Transmission of Culture

Communication and Information Technologies Annual

ISBN: 978-1-78560-785-1, eISBN: 978-1-78560-784-4

Publication date: 23 February 2016



The study seeks to introduce a new media model that (1) clearly illustrates the role of mass media in the transmission of cultural messages, and (2) helps to explain variations in the reception and employment of cultural messages by members of the same culture.


Drawing on decades of theorizing in cultural sociology and communication studies, as well as data from two qualitative content analyses, a new model was developed, explained, and then applied to a specific cultural phenomenon.


Mass media are significant transmitters of cultural messages and play an influential role in shaping culture, yet the process is complex. There is great variety in what messages are accepted by different consumers, how they are interpreted, and how they ultimately are employed (or not). Further, cultures that include contradictory messages are more likely to inadvertently promote deviant paths to culturally valued goals.

Research limitations/implications

First, the model only addresses one dimension of the relationship between mass media and culture; it does not explain cultural influences on mass media. Second, the model does not specifically address recent changes in the media landscape, though an accommodation is suggested. Finally, the model needs additional testing before its utility can be reasonably determined.


First, a new model is introduced that clearly illustrates the complex process by which cultural messages are transmitted to receivers via mass media. Second, the model introduces the concept of “cultural capacity” to complement existing concepts and advance understanding of the operation of culture.



Wiest, J.B. (2016), "The Role of Mass Media in the Transmission of Culture", Communication and Information Technologies Annual (Studies in Media and Communications, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 203-219.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016 Emerald Group Publishing Limited