chapter  2
22 Pages

Structural Pluralism in Journalism and Media Studies: A Concept Explication and Theory Construction

WithSeungahn Nah, Cory L. Armstrong

A substantial body of scholarship has examined how social system or structure can influence the roles that media, especially the news media, play in a democratic society. Since 1970s, structural pluralism1 (e.g., Tichenor, Donohue, & Olien, 1973, 1980) has been widely applied and tested via empirical studies. When created, structural pluralism was conceived as a ‘‘paradigm shift’’ in communication effect theories, where the effects of media on individuals were predominant such as in agenda setting (McCombs & Shaw, 1972) and, later, spiral of silence (Noelle-Neumann, 1984) perspectives. In contrast, structural pluralism focuses on the effects of societal or community characteristics on media rather than the impact of media on society or individuals (see, e.g., Demers & Viswanath, 1999; Pollock, 2007).