Personal Influence, the Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communications

Transaction Publishers
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Publisher
Transaction Publishers
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Published on
Dec 31, 1966
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9781412830706
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Language
English
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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This book provides an intensive exploration of recent popular representations of human cloning, genetics and the concerns which they generate and mobilise. It is a timely contribution to current debates about the public communication of science and about the cultural and political stakes in those debates. Taking the UK as its main case study, with cross-cultural comparisons with the USA and South Korea, the book explores the proposition that genomics is ‘the publicly mediated science par excellence’, through detailed reference to the rhetoric and images around human reproductive and therapeutic cloning which have proliferated in the wake of the ‘completion’ of the Human Genome Project (2000).

The book offers a set of distinctive analyses of media and cultural texts – including press and television news, Hollywood and independent film drama, documentaries, art exhibits and websites – and in dialogue with the producers and consumers of these texts. From these investigations, key issues are foregrounded: the image of the scientist, scientific expertise and institutions; the governance of science; the representation of women’s bodies as the subjects and objects of biotechnology; and the constitution of publics, both as objects of media debate, and as their intended audience.

This examination demonstrates the importance of mediation, media institutions, and media texts in the production of scientific knowledge. Countering models that see ‘the media’ as simply a channel through which scientific knowledge passes, this book will emphasise the importance of communications technologies in the production of modern scientific knowledge and their particular significance in contemporary genomics. It will argue that human genomic science – and cloning as its current iconic manifestation – has to be understood as a complex cultural production.

On Halloween night 1938, Orson Welles broadcast a radio adaptation of the H. G. Wells fantasy, The War of the Worlds. What listeners heard sounded so realistic that at least a million were frightened by word that "strange creatures" from Mars had landed in central New Jersey and were "unleashing a deadly assault." Several thousand were so terrified they ran into the streets, drove away in their cars, or called the police for information about how to escape. Why did so many panic when the circumstances reported were so improbable? That is just the question Hadley Cantril, then a young social psychologist, set out to answer.

Originally published in 1940, The Invasion from Mars remains a classic. The broadcast provided a unique real-life opportunity to explore why the relatively new medium of radio could have such an effect. Using a mix of research methods, Cantril shows that the impact of the broadcast had less to do with what went out over the air than with the "standards of judgment" people did or did not use in evaluating what they were hearing. This book is of continuing value to those interested in communications and mass behavior.

"One of the most fascinating, illuminating and provocative social documents that have been brought to public attention for some time."--New York Times Book Review, April 28, 1940

"The dramatic account brings into sharp focus those factors in the situation and from the individuals conducive to critical appraisal or contagious panic behavior."--Muzafer Sherif, 1966

Hadley Cantril (1906-1969) was chairman of the Institute for International Social Research. Earlier he founded the Office of Public Opinion Research and was Stuart Professor of Psychology at Princeton University. He was author of nineteen books and monitored public opinion for the executive branch during World War II. Albert H. Cantril, son of Hadley Cantril, is an independent public opinion analyst. Among his books are Reading Mixed Signals: Ambivalence in American Public Opinion about Government (with Susan Davis Cantril). He also worked on the White House staff during the Johnson administration and later served in the Bureaus of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and Public Affairs of the Department of State.
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