Normative Theory

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| Normative theoryNormative theories describe an ideal way for a media system to be structured and operated. Most normative theories develop over time. Normative theories differ in two ways from scientific theories: (1) they are less concerned with specific predictions, and (2) they are less directly tied to systematic, empirical, direct observation.First two normative theories are authoritarianism and libertarianism. Authoritarianism calls for direct regulation of media and media content by the government. An example would be Lasswell and Lippman arguing that the threat of propaganda is such that government technocrats are needed to see that media have good content.Historically the other extreme was in U.S -- radical libertarianism or First Amendment absolutism. i.e. free press, no government regulation.Libertarianism:a. Reaction to authoritarian theory (divinely ordained social order, thus licensing and censorship).b. Justified by belief in "natural" tendency of people to be guided by conscience, to recognize truth, to recognize and pursue their own best interest.c. Combined with belief that individuals pursuing own self-interest will create a good society.Milton's "self-righting principle" that good arguments win in fair debate and correct the social order. Libertarian approach is the foundation of the U.S. concept of democracy and freedom.In practice, there has always been recognition of limits on freedom of speech necessary to protect other rights, to protect people and society, etc. E.g. libel laws, gag orders, false advertising, child pornography, crying, "fire" in a crowded theatre.A variant on libertarianism is application of Adam Smith's ideas of laissez-faire capitalism. In an unregulated marketplace there will be competition that, through the laws of supply and demand (price theory) will lead to an optimal result.Normative theories of the 20th centuryCommunist model:The party represents the people. Party determines the national goals. The role of...
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