chapter  9
24 Pages

Shattering the Mirror: Linking Media- Effects Research and American Pragmatism

Someone who examines the published literature concerning American pragmatism and media studies will find two recurrent views. Some scholars (Carter, 1989; Gonzalez, 1988; Perry, 1996b; Wenner, 1985) have argued that researchers who employ variable-analytic methods or who study media effects are often following the ideas of John Dewey and other pragmatists. After reading different sources (e.g., Carey, 1989; Peters, 1988), however, one might infer that pragmatist ideas in general, or those of Dewey in particular, could encourage the field to focus on more humanistic endeavors. For instance, Carey (1989) claimed that media-effects research has diverted energy from potentially more productive endeavors without producing much of scholarly merit. Beyond this, had it attained more success, its consequences would have been disastrous, he alleged. To Carey, identification of laws of human political behavior may contribute to external or technocratic, rather than participatory, political practices, for example. This sharply contrasts with the democratic ideals of many pragmatists.