What is Mass Communication? Mention its Elements, Functions and Social Inheritance.

Mass communication is spreading messages to extended mass audience using fastest means of reproduction and distribution which is relatively an inexpensive medium for the consumers. The messages are transported from the source to a very large and widespread audience by intermediary channels such as newspaper, books, radio, television, cinema and internet etc, In the words of Emery mass communication means delivering information, ideas and attitudes to a sizeable and diversified audience through the use of media developed for that purpose.

Elements of Mass Communication.

There are mainly following elements of mass communication:

  • Large audience as compared to any other form of communication.
  • There is no differentiation in the composition of the audience.
  • Message reproduction of similar form.
  • Rapid distribution and delivery.
  • Cost to the customers per unit is very low.
  • Use of technology print, electricity, electronics satellites.
  • Distribution all across the geographically distant areas and dispersed audience.

There are some disadvantages of mass communication as it is an impersonal medium of communication. The disadvantages are no individual attention, no face to face interaction, no eye contact an no instant feedback.


SMRC stands for Source Message. Channel and Receiver. There is a special importance and role for these elements in mass communication.

The Source: Source can be an individual or singly unit like one nationwide address of the president or a media organization, or a television station.

The Message: The kind of media that we are going to, use for transmission and distribution will decide the content of message. The newspaper report of an even will be entirely different from a television presentation of the same event. Only the presentation is different the message remains the same.

The Channel: Channel is one of the most important element in mass communication. The channels are the instruments of mass communication which generally and considered as phenomenon of communication. Then are multiplicity of channels in radio and television an print media which caters to national and regions audiences at the same time with an enormous speed Marshall McLuhan described the world today a “Global village” because of the ability of mass media that has overcome the limitations of time and space.

There are two types of media print media and electronic media, but the rapid distribution of news with the use of satellite and interest have lessened this distinction.

The Receiver: The audience is the receiver here with common interest and needs but are unknown to each other. The advantage of mass media is proved with them reaching a vast number of receivers within a short span of time. The disadvantage is lack of feedback.

Functions of Mass Communication.

Mass media communications are interlinked with the life of each individual. To understand the functions of media we must find out first why people read newspapers every day, or watch television, or listen to the radio and go for a movie. There may be many reasons with common functions among the audience and we will be able to know the various functions of media. This is called the “Functions Approach”.

The study for analyzing mass communication includes both what people do with media and what media do to the people. The effect of media on culture, opinions, and attitudes, this is called ‘Effect Approach’. There is a concern for both processes amongst social scientists. Hrold Lasswell was the first scholar to call an attention to the social functions of communications. His consideration was based on the terms of categories found in any society identified as three types of functions

Surveillance of the Environment.

Media is a kind of informer or a watchman. Mass media is like ears, eyes and voice of the audience. On the basis of their report audiences shapes their thoughts, attitudes and actions. The best example is the commercial advertisements which introduces us with a product and we decide to buy the product. At personal level the surveillance of environmental function of media increases and provide base for social interaction, provides knowledge and information’s.

Transmission of Social Inheritance.

Media is able of transmitting social inheritance, mostly done by parents, teachers and elders. Main societal frames today are provided by media. Media’s role as providing knowledge of urbanization, relative anonymity, and social uprooting and a shift from joint family system has transmitted very well. Mass media today is a strong player of carrying out functions of socialization and heritage transmission.

Dysfunctions Associated with Mass Communication.

Mass communication can be functional and dysfunctional for the society was recognized by Lasswell. The ruling government can mislead people by misinformation or false propaganda. When the mass communication is not used properly or communicators are unable to use it skillfully or process the information effectively dysfunction may happen. The usage of mass communication and its purposes are as follows:

  • Persuading people to act in a specific way.
  • Satisfy the information need.
  • Get entertainment or escape and releasing tension and boredom.
  • Security and reassurances.
  • Companionship.
  • Social status and social interactions.
  • Social transformation and changes.
  • Understanding the government working and political system in a country.
  • Maintain stability and status quo.
  • Enforce social norms.
  • Serving political, economic and social system.
  • Interpreting society.

Thus there are many functions of mass media. Mass media has established new identity and new relationship for individuals and for the society. Media helps in determining what is important today. There is no social or political system that can ignore mass communication which has powerful control on the society.

Functions of mass communication influence each segment of society from politics to government to economics and industries. New demand is created by advertising media it creates desire, new needs and standardized goods and services. They also reinterpret values and norms for the society. As of today thinking of life without mass media is like thinking of no life.

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