Media studies draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, and overlap in interests with related disciplines mass communication, communication, communication sciences and communication studies. Researchers develop and employ theories and methods from disciplines including cultural studies, rhetoric, philosophy, literary theory, psychology, political science, political economy, economics, sociology, social theory, social psychology, media influence, cultural anthropology, cultural studies, museum studies, art history and criticism, film and video studies, and information theory.
Scholars may focus on the constitution of media and question how they shape what is regarded as knowledge and as communicable. The related field of media psychology concerns itself with the psychological impact of the media on individuals and cultures. (See the Journal of Media Psychology and the Media Psychology Division of the APA)
In addition to the interdisciplinary nature of the academic field, popular understandings of media studies encompass:
Most production and journalism courses incorporate media studies content, but academic institutions often establish separate departments. "Media studies" students may see themselves as observers of media, not creators or practitioners. These distinctions vary across national boundaries.
Separate strands exist within media studies, such as audience studies, producer studies, television studies and radio studies. Film studies is often considered a separate discipline, though television and video games studies grew out of it, as made evident by the application of basic critical theories such as psychoanalysis, feminism and Marxism.
Critical media theory looks at how the corporate ownership of media production and distribution affects society, and provides a common ground to social conservatives (concerned by the effects of media on the traditional family) and liberals and socialists (concerned by the corporatization of social discourse). The study of the effects and techniques of advertising forms a cornerstone of media studies.
Contemporary media studies includes the analysis of new media with emphasis on the internet, video games, mobile devices, interactive television, and other forms of mass media which developed from the 1990s. Because these new technologies allow instant communication across the world (chat rooms and instant messaging, online video games, video conferencing), interpersonal communication is an important element in new media studies. Another factor influencing contemporary media studies is globalization: the debate of globalization as a historical event or as a social construction rages on .
It has been argued that media studies has not fully acknowledged the changes which the internet and digital interactive media have brought about, seeing these as an 'add-on'. David Gauntlett has argued for a 'Media Studies 2.0' which fully recognises the ways in which media has changed, and that traditional boundaries between 'audiences' and 'producers' has collapsed.
In the last quarter century, political economy has played a major part in media studies literature. The theory gained notoriety in media studies particularly with the publication of Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, published in 1988. In the book, the authors discuss a theory of how the United States’ media industry operates, which they term a “propaganda model.” The model describes a “decentralized and non-conspiratorial market system of control and processing, although at times the government or one or more private actors may take initiatives and mobilize co-ordinated elite handling of an issue."
Other states that teach Media are South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland. The subject does not appear to be taught in New South Wales.
The first large flow of media studies based in humanities and cultural sciences as the Theater scholarship ("Theaterwissenschaft") and German language and literature studies widens since the 1960s. In this orientation, the Media studies in Germany today mainly developed and established.
As one of the first publications to this new direction is by Helmut Kreuzer, published the study Literature Studies - Media Studies (Literaturwissenschaft – Medienwissenschaft), summed up the units of the "Düsseldorfer Germanistentag" 1976.
The second stream is comparable to Communication Studies. Pioneered by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann in the 1940s this stream studies mass media, its institutions and its effects on society and individuals.
Mass communication, communication studies or simply communication may be more popular names for academic departments in the United States, but the focus of such programs sometimes excludes certain media -- film, book publishing, video games, etc. The title "media studies" may be used alone or in combination like "media studies and communication" to bridge this gap, or to emphasize a different focus or combined department. Examples: Comparative Media Studies at MIT, Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, Rhetoric and Media Studies at Willamette University.
when Joseph Trenaman left the BBC's Further Education Unit to become the first holder of the Granada Research Fellowship in Television at Leeds University. Soon after in 1966, the Centre for Mass Communication Research was founded at Leicester University, and degree programmes in media studies began to sprout at polytechnics and other universities during the 1970s and 1980s.
Media Studies is now taught all over the UK. The topics span from magazines to films. It is taught at GCSE and at A level. It is also taught at University level.
Media Studies in New Zealand can be regarded as a singular success, with the subject well-established in the tertiary sector (such as Screen and Media Studies at the University of Waikato; Media Studies, Victoria University of Wellington; Film, Television and Media Studies, University of Auckland; Media Studies, Massey University; Communication Studies, University of Otago). For more details on the New Zealand situation, consult the Mediascape online resource at An EdD concentration in Media Studies, grounded in Media Psychology and a PhD program in Media Psychology were launched at Fielding Graduate University in 2002 by Bernard Luskin. These programs advanced Media Studies in acknowledging the importance of human behavior. The PhD program in Media Psychology is the first in any university.
In the UK, Media Studies is regularly the victim of jokes and cynical attitudes, often being labelled as a Mickey Mouse subject. It receives many of the criticisms directed at sociology scholars during the 70s and 80s. In 2000, England's Chief Schools Inspector, Chris Woodhead suggested that media studies is a "one way ticket to the dole."
The Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) was founded by Richard Hoggart and Stuart Hall at the University of Birmingham in 1964. As the appeal of Marxism waned in the 1960s, the CCCS took critical theory in new directions, raising questions about media and power. There was the shift of paradigm from ethnography to Hall's semiology. The CCCS was pivotal in developing the field, producing a number of key researchers. Under the directorship of Stuart Hall, who wrote the seminal Encoding/Decoding model, the centre produced key empirical research about the relationship between texts and audiences. Amongst these was The Nationwide Audience by David Morley and Charlotte Brunsdon.
Media Studies and Media Psychology
Criticism of Media Studies in the UK Media
An EdD concentration in Media Studies, grounded in Media Psychology and a PhD program in Media Psychology were launched at Fielding Graduate University in 2002 by Bernard Luskin. These programs advanced Media Studies in acknowledging the importance of human behavior. The PhD program in Media Psychology is the first in any university.
In the UK, Media Studies is regularly the victim of jokes and cynical attitudes, often being labelled as a Mickey Mouse subject. It receives many of the criticisms directed at sociology scholars during the 70s and 80s.
In 2000, England's Chief Schools Inspector, Chris Woodhead suggested that media studies is a "one way ticket to the dole."