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The Space of OpinionMedia Intellectuals and the Public Sphere$
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Ronald N. Jacobs and Eleanor Townsley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199797929

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199797929.001.0001

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Media and Opinion Formation

Media and Opinion Formation

Toward a New Theory of Deliberative Politics

(p.54) 3 Media and Opinion Formation
The Space of Opinion

Ronald N. Jacobs

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 develops a cultural sociological model of the space of opinion and its role in democratic deliberation. It analyzes three waves of media theory which have shaped thinking about news and opinion. The first wave of media theory emphasized the importance of objective news and a neutral media for rational information-processing citizens. It defined much of the media scholarship produced prior to the 1960s, and it continues to resonate with broad publics because of its elective affinities with the professional project of objective journalism. The second wave of media theory had its roots at the University of Chicago in the 1920s. It offered a sociological analysis which recognized that small groups and social networks intervene between media and citizens to shape the nature of deliberation. The third wave of media theory builds on the second wave to emphasize that a wide variety of aesthetic and performative structures help citizens identify with media intellectuals, which leads to increased levels of public involvement in the political public sphere. This cultural model of media and deliberation points to the importance of a variety of communicative formats for journalism, including the innovative formats of the space of opinion.

Keywords:   rational information processing citizen, two-step flow model of communication, cultural model of the public sphere, cultural performance, Jurgen Habermas, Pierre Bourdieu, Jeffrey Alexander, Elihu Katz, Paul Lazarsfeld

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