Mass society theory is an idea that media has strong influence towards people, it plays a role of shaping people’s mind and perception of the social world and it is also to manipulate people’s action with delicate, subtle and effective ways (Baran and Davis 2006, p.43). Mass society theory has first introduced in the nineteenth century when there are disruptive consequences caused by modernization (Baran and Davis 2006, p.52). At that time, mass media considered as a cause of social problems (Baran and Davis 2006, p.52). That was the yellow journalism era for mass newspapers (Baran and Davis 2006, p.52). For instance, newspapers irresponsibly give out information, probably some sensational information which directly influence people’s minds (Baran and Davis 2006, p.45), when there are social problems occurs based on influences made by yellow journalism, people might blame on the mass society, this is also what mass society theory criticizing about. Mass society theory has come out with six basic assumptions about individual, the role of media, and the nature of social change (Baran and Davis 2006, p.53). These assumptions talk about the influences of the media towards individuals; it shows how people’s minds are changed to the negative side.
This paper is basically analyzing Malaysia society by using the mass society theory. Malaysia society will be analyzed based on the assumptions of mass society theory. The sources that used for analysis are news articles from The New Strait Times.
Six assumption of mass society theory
Among the six assumptions, one of them says that “media have the power to reach out and directly influence the minds of average people” (Davis 1976 cited in Baran and Davis 2006, p.54). Average people here refer to the general public also known as the member of folk culture; average people are also portrayed as “being helpless before the manipulative power of media content” (Baran and Davis 2006, p.54). It means the average people have no choice but to be influenced by the media, they have no protection.
There is a news article found in New Strait Times which is applicable to this assumption. The news article reports about some bloggers who have actually belittle the king or Islam in their blog (Vasudevan 2007, p.4). Blogging is a new form of personal diaries; it is being published in the Internet. Blog is now widely used by people to share their diaries. Since it is very widely used, therefore there are no gatekeepers to control the content in blogs. Without gatekeepers, bloggers can post whatever they want in their blog, in this case, the government is actually troubled by the growth of irresponsible alternative media like blogs, these websites allow the publish of slander, lies and swearing, the use of harsh, degrading language and racial slurs without for the reader or those who concerned (Vasudevan 2007, p.4). When readers read these blogs, they might not have the ability to analyze the contents whether it is the truth, as they are only general public who have no idea about the lifestyle of a king, or those who are not Islam, they have no idea about Islam as well, when then have no idea about the accuracy of these content, probably they will believe it. It directly changes the mind of the readers, in this case, those criticisms toward the king or Islam in the blogs mentioned, might not be the truth, but it has already planted in the mind of the readers, and it is hard to change the people’s mind once it is deeply set based on the information they first get.
This form of uncontrollable alternative media might give some idea to those who intentionally belittle the king and Islam to spread their negative idea by using their blogs. This brings out another assumption of the mass society theory, which is “once people’s mind are corrupted by the media, all sorts of bad long-term consequences result- not only bringing ruin to individual lives but also creating...
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