Cultivation Theory and the Changing Media Environment

Posted on February 14, 2023 by Cheapest Assignment

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Global Economic Environment Assignment


The media environment has been changing recently as technology advances and new communication tools were developed. In particular, the internet has become the new driver of media as it connected more people in more efficient ways. With the changes in media, this particular theory needs to be updated as well to respond to the demands of these changes. According to Waigumo, (2011), the internet has enabled new forms of social interaction due to its widespread access and usability. Hence, the media also adapted to these new forms and utilized the new opportunities that it offers. Nowadays, what is shown on television could also be found on web pages like Youtube and social media pages which means that cultivation theory should no longer emphasize one medium which is the television, thus, it should be updated into something that emphasizes a new medium like the internet.

Cultivation Theory

The cultivation theory tries to demonstrate the theatrical portrayal of life on television and how it affects the behavior and attitudes of humans. Founded by George Gerbner in 1976, there are some assumptions in the cultivation theory which include, TV has become important to the life and culture of the people, TV has impacted how people perceive social reality, and the effects of television could be limited and might not be the only factor that affects how people view social reality (Dainton & Zelley, 2005). According to the cultivation theory, TV could influence people in different ways such as in terms of violence. While violence on TV doesn’t affect everyone, according to the cultivation theory the social behavior or attitudes of people could become more pessimistic with the increase in TV viewing (Dainton & Zelley, 2005). People might perceive more negative things than what is happening. Televised reality has not to match actual reality and heavy viewers are more influenced by television reality compared to light viewers (Dainton & Zelley, 2005). This theory is demonstrating the negative effects of watching TV for a longer time compared to a shorter time. Heavy viewers tend to develop the same view of social reality in accordance with their frequent exposure to the dominating and repetitive stories, images, and messages that are depicted on TV (Dainton & Zelley, 2005). Moreover, heavy viewers could resonate with what they see on TV in their past and present experiences. Television is perceived by the theory as highly influential towards human psychology which could affect the way humans act or think in their daily lives.

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Changing Media Environment

The media environment has been changing and the way that cultivation theory focuses on television as it analyzes a single media tended to be obsolete. These changes include innovation in technology, particularly in the area of communication. The things that are shown on TV could now be seen on the internet and therefore, makes the internet as influential or even more influential as television. Most cable channels used to recycle the content of major networks which lengthened and broadened the exposure of the content during the early years of research in the cultivation theory (Greer, 2008). With more and more people who choose to spend time watching TV, the influence of what is shown on the internet could be the same as what is shown on TV. Even before the adoption of the internet began to widen during the mid-1990s, the original theory of George Gerbner about how mass-media consumption, particularly heavy television viewing, shaped public perceptions of their world was already facing several challenges (Hood, 2008). This goes to show that cultivation theory could also be applied to internet content like video websites and social media. The boom of online communities and especially the supplanting of television by computers and the internet among younger people will require scholars to continue to revise and update their communication theories (Hood, 2008). Future researchers should consider conducting studies that will improve the cultivation theory into something that not only focus on television but also on new and highly influential media like the internet.

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Cultivation theory focuses on the psychological and behavioral impact of television on people. It discusses how TV could portray theatrical lives and how people react to what they see in this particular communication medium. This theory recognizes the power of the television in the minds of the viewer. In relation to the changing media that is due to technological advancement, this paper offers insights on the possibility of changing or updating the theory into something that will also include another powerful media that influences people nowadays. The internet has become a widely used media in communication and as television, it could also influence the behavior and attitude of people who utilize it. In updating the cultivation theory, further studies could be conducted and will also include the internet as another media that affects people’s perception of the reality of life.

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Dainton, M. & Zelley, E. (2005). Applying communication theory for professional life. SAGEPublications.

Greer, S. (2008). Cultivation in the Digital Age. The University of North Carolina, School of Media and Journalism.

Hood, J. (2008). Time to Cultivate New Theories. The University of North Carolina, School of Media and Journalism.

Waigumo, M. (2011). Impact of Social Networking Sites on Interpersonal Relationships Among Teenagers; A Case Study of MurangA East District. The University of Nairobi.

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