Bârgăoanu 4/2006

Sociologie Românească, Vol. IV, no. 4/2006, pp. 161-175.



SR 4 2006 coperta

Orientarea experimentală - cea mai fertilă contribuție americană la studiul comunicării

The Experimental Approach the Most Fertile American Contribution to the Study of Communication

Alina Bârgăoanu


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Abstract (Rezumat în limba engleză): The paper underscores the growth of the empirical study of communication in the United States during the two World Wars. Major intellectual and social currents that favored that growth are analysed in depth, with the view to revealing the strong foundation on which communication study was erected. Propaganda analysis, public opinion research, social psychology and market research all on the rise in the United States during the studied period gave additional impetus to the emerging field, lending it a strong empirical orientation. Thus, the first communication scholars, routinely called “the founding fathers of communication, committed themselves to studying mass communication effects using empirical, statistical, experiment-driven methods. The happy marriage between a relevant field of study mass-media effects – and an adequate methodology to identify, explain and quantify them the quantitative research contributed to the explosive development of the field. Exploiting all these strengths socially relevant field of study, adequate methodology, support from the private business and from the government, perceived contribution to US army's efforts to prevail in the 2nd World War, the empirical approach soon became the dominant paradigm of communication scholarship. Two communication “founding fathers, Paul Lazarsfeld and Kurt Lewin, are analysed extensively in the article, given the fact that they are representative figures for this longer series of developments. The article ends with some considerations on Wilbur Schramm’s contribution to building the institutional infrastructure of communication study, boosting its further development and changing it from a mere field of inquiry to a sign of modernity.