The Three Paradigms of Mass Media Research In Mainstream Communication Journals

W. James Potter, Roger Cooper, Michel Dupagne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Scholars who write about the paradigms influencing mass media research differ in their speculations. This study was conducted to provide an empirical analysis by examining six characteristics of mass media research articles published in eight major communication journals. The social science paradigm was found to account for over 60% of the studies, while the interpretive paradigm accounted for about 34% and the critical paradigm less than 6%. It was concluded that the social science paradigm, while being the majority paradigm in the mainstream journals, could not be considered a dominant paradigm in the research field. Also, even though most of the research emulated the social science paradigm in purpose, it failed to meet scientific standards of theoretical orientation leading to quantitative data gathered by probabilistic sampling methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-335
Number of pages19
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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