The Construction of The Invasion from Mars as a Founding Event in Mass Communication History

TitleThe Construction of The Invasion from Mars as a Founding Event in Mass Communication History
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Sassoni-Barlev, O.
Affiliation (1st Author)University of Haifa, Israel
Section or WGHistory Section
DateFri 28 June
Slot CodeHISF1a
Slot Code (Keyword)HISF1a
Time of Session9:00-10:30
RoomHelix - The Studio
Session Title Theoretical and methodological perspectives on history of media and journalism
Submission ID5961

Research objectives: This research explores how the Invasion from Mars Study has been remembered and evoked within the social sciences, in general, and within the communication research community, in particular. In addition, it looks at how Invasion from Mars Study is transferred from a generation to another. Theoretical framework: The theoretical field of collective memory offers an avenue for exploring the transition of Invasion from Mars Study during a particular moment, as well as over time. Collective memory is perceived as a system of social representations of the past, produced, established, preserved and transmitted by a group through an interaction among its members (Jedlowsky, 2001). It is a resource for maintaining social connections and claims of authority, as well as legitimatizing social groups (Irwin- Zarecka, 1994). Collective memory studies assume a conflict between accounts of the past, asks why historical actors constructed their memories in a particular way and a particular time. Therefore, a memory in not consider as a mere construction of social, historical and cultural circumstances, but a reflection in which a certain construction is resonant and more stable in the face of its rivals. Hence, collective memory studies represent the past as it is used for present purposes (Zelizer, 1995; Olick & Robbins, 1998; Edgerton, 2001; Wertsch, 2002). Methodology: The data base includes 48 academic sources, which deal with Invasion from Mars Study or reference it. Those sources were analyzed through a qualitative content analysis and narrative analysis that was conducted according to the "bottom- up" approach, which derives contextual units from the sources, in order to produce an infrastructure that explains the effect of the narrative (Manning & Cullum- Swan, 1994).  Main Conclusions: Three narratives of Invasion from Mars Study offer three competitive narratives of collective memory, and reflect divergent approaches to media influence over its audience. The first narrative claims a strong media influence; the second challenges this narrative and argues for limited media influence; the third provides a historical and cultural context and offers claims for providing "the real story" on behalf of the community of communication researchers. This inquest of competing versions of collective memory illuminates the manner in which Invasion from Mars Study has become a central milestone in mass communication research. Invasion from Mars Study is connected to two founding myths in the disciplinary history among communication research community: The "four founding fathers" and the transition from the perception of media's powerful effects towards a perception of limited effects. Therefore, each narrative version includes the following parts: a) the plot of the narrative and its construction; b) the narrator of the narrative; c) its target audience; d) the goal of the narrative; e) its moral value and f) the ways of distribution the narratives.

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