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Communication And Information (CCI 80096) Media Dependency Theory

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Sandra Watson
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  • UniversityKent State University
  • CourseIndividual Investigation In Communication And Information (CCI 80096)

Media Dependency Theory
Media systems dependency theory, also called media dependency theory, was first
introduced in 1974 by Ball-Rokeach in a series of papers titled “The Information Perspective.”
This theory was officially introduced by DeFleur and Ball-Rokeach in 1976 with the basic
premise that the media’s power is derived from the audience’s dependency on the media. That is,
the more a person depends on having needs gratified by media use, the more important the
media’s role will be in the person’s life and, therefore, the more influence those media will have
(Baran & Davis, 2015).
Media dependency theory not only examines the effects of mass media on audiences, but
also examines interactions between the media, audiences, and social systems. The key idea
behind this theory is that audiences depend on information from the media to meet needs and
reach goals; and vice versa, society and the media create the needs and motives that audiences
need (Ball-Rokeach & DeFleur, 1976; Ball-Rokeach, 1988). That is, this theory examines the
relationship in which the fulfillment of one’s needs is contingent upon the resources of the
media. The more an individual depends on media to gratify a need or needs, the more important
that media becomes in his or her life, and the more influence that media has over the individual.
There is an internal link between media, audience and social systems. Because an audience is not
able to learn everything from real life, they use media to get more information to fulfil needs and
fill in the blanks. DeFleur and Ball-Rokeach (1976) formulated this theory because they believed
that past researchers and theories focused too much on the individual, and not enough on the link
between the media, audience, and society.

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Communication And Information (CCI 80096) Media Dependency Theory

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