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This article outlines the history of media studies.
Though not yet named as such, media studies' roots are in the Chicago School and thinkers such as John Dewey, Charles Cooley and George Mead. These authors saw American society on the cusp of positive social change toward pure democracy. Mead argued that for an ideal society to exist, a form of communication must be developed to allow the unique individual to appreciate the attitudes, viewpoints and positions of others unlike himself, and allow him to be understood by others as well. Mead believed that this "new media" would allow humans to empathize with others, and therefore moves toward an "ideal of human society." Where Mead sees an ideal society, Dewey names it the "Great Community," and further asserts the assumption that humans are intelligent enough for self-government, and that that knowledge is "a function of association and communication." Similarly, Cooley asserts that political communication makes public opinion possible, which in turn promotes democracy. Each of these authors represent the Chicago School’s attention to electronic communication as a facilitator of democracy, its faith in the informed electorate, and its focus on the individual as opposed to the mass.
The social impact of mass communication has been studied at The New School University in New York since its founding in 1919. The first college course to investigate the motion picture was offered here in 1926. Marshall McLuhan's colleague, John Culkin, brought his Center for Understanding Media to The New School in 1975 and The New School began offering the Master of Arts degree in Media Studies, one of the first graduate programs of its kind. Today, among other programs, MA in Media Studies is still being offered by School of Media Studies, The New School, which will celebrate 40th anniversary of Media Studies at The New School during the academic year 2015-2016
Between the First and Second World Wars, the Institute for Propaganda Analysis briefly rose to importance. Their definition of propaganda was
"expression of opinion or action by individuals or groups deliberately designed to influence opinion or actions of other individuals or groups with reference to predetermined ends."
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