From the mid-1960s to the late 2000s, the number of people locked in U.S. prisons and jails, and forced onto parole or probation, increased from less than eight hundred thousand to more than seven million. From the beginning, this explosive growth, known commonly as mass incarceration, has been about containing, stigmatizing, and exploiting the poorest sectors of the working class. While an important prison reform movement has been underway for many years, private forces have attempted to co-opt this movement and have implemented and profited from alternative forms of mass coercion proliferating throughout society.
Sociology was the first social science to investigate communication empirically. A review is offered of sociological research into the mass media, which is often multidisciplinary in approach. Concepts important in this area are those of medium, communicator, content, & audience. Investigation of mass media action & influence leads to study of the functions of these institutions in society & culture. Recent trends in this field have led to dissatisfaction with the present position; without loss of accumulated knowledge, a shift is needed both toward interpretation of the past & concern for the evolution & future changes of society. W. H. Stoddard.
Long-time experience with the Belgian Radio & TV indicates that the reaction of the audience to the pressure of the MM is a sociol'al phenomenon of which as yet little is known. The problem must be re-examined from its most generally accepted data & bases up. 2 interrelated subjects are dealt with broadly: (a) the basic typology of the mass public, & (b) the variations in the effect of MM messages. The mass public which the sociol'ts are studying is a 'monstrous sociol'al grouping gradually crystallizing,' which receives a high intensity-level of intellectual COMM's & is exposed to multiple, diverse, incoherent as well as coherent, ephemeral as well as sustained pressures. It has no community bonds, community intimacy or primary connections. It adheres to a standardized, superficial, psychol'al penetrating & homogenizing culture, exhibits a certain facelessness & dehumanization, & has lost traditional ideologies which are replaced by concrete offers of service. It is depolitized, worships functional efficiencies, & respects things rather than persons. It is facing a growing excess of leisure & the democratization of educ as a result of demographic pressure. Among this mass public, the information media will seek their own mass public, which, however, is diff from the mass public of the sociol'ts. Under the relentless pressure of the messages emitted by the MM, this fundamentally heterogeneous audience becomes organized-at certain times & under certain circumstances-into a bona fide sociol'al category or even SC. Thus heterogeneous groups become for certain periods of time a homogeneous agglomeration. The quantitative aspect of the MM messages is one of shameless extravagance with material effort disproportionate to the results, a 'shocking waste of substance & energy.' The qualitative aspect is yet little known. It is known, however, that the characteristics observable at emission level-mass orientation, standardization, vulgarization, distortion of cultural values, etc-are not necessarily found at the registering & internalizing levels, thanks to the triple filter of external constraints, unconscious selectivity, & the defense mechanism. The resistance of the public to attempts at mass conditioning is greater than is commonly believed. A 2-dimensional schema (conjunctural & structural levels) of the effects of the MM on society is introduced which can be used as a mental frame of reference in the analysis of MM effects. It is concluded: (a) The relationship between the MM & its public must be broken down into 'sociol'al observation perimeters, which in turn must be separated into sociol'al observation units, eg, information on current events from the daily papers. (b) The largest possible number of survey techniques must be used on a continuous basis & results appraised & systematically cross-checked. A policy of multiple surveys should be adopted. 5 Figures, 1 Table. M. Maxfield.