This chapter contextualises and investigates ideas of mass society and the masses in relation to ideas about media. It considers the way in which intellectuals have formulated ways of viewing modern society, and how their hopes, fears and agendas have constructed versions of ‘massness’ that have determined ways in which modern society and the role of media in it have been understood. The social strata changed as the new mercantile middle classes and the new urban working class wrested power away from an elite group to establish forms of democracy and a modern capitalist economy. Social struggles – often violent and vehemently resisted by the powerful – enabled the growth and spread of democracy, and social, economic and working conditions began to improve. Mass communication theorist Denis McQuail suggests that there are a number of meanings to the concept of ‘mass’ used in phrases such as ‘mass communication’, ‘the mass audience’ and ‘mass culture’.