The sociology of media is the study of how mass media communication impacts people's views of each other as well as their daily interactions. This particular sub-field of sociology is often concerned with how mass media relates to the transmission and accessibility of information between different groups of people. Scholars who study the sociology of media often outline how digital communication differs from face-to-face interaction. They also sometimes attempt to document how different types of media are designed to affect people's behavior, particularly in areas such as advertising and entertainment. The sociology of media actually differs from the sociology of technology because it encompasses a wider range of communication mediums such as newspapers, films, and television shows in addition to the Internet.
Studying the sociology of media often includes examining how different kinds of mass media are structured and designed. Some factors such as regulation impact the content of different forms of media, and sociologists sometimes form case studies of why such regulations are in place. They can also document the perceived objectivity or neutrality of various media such as print, television, Internet, and radio. A few of these mediums are considered more timeless than others, and some studies attempt to provide explanations for these changing trends.
Technology is a frequent topic in the sociology of media because it is considered a main factor in many of the changes that are noticeable in mass media studies. Innovations in communication technology bring increasing amounts of information to audiences that are much larger and more diverse than in the recent past. A related area of interest addresses how various kinds of media shape people's ideas of acceptable behavior within their given culture. Clashes between traditional and media-advertised values are also frequent topics of interest in this area of sociology.
Learning sociology usually entails examining and applying existing theories to different situations. Three specific theories in the sociology of media are known as the class dominant theory, the limited effects theory, and the culturalist theory. The class dominant theory maintains that an elite few actually own and control the mass media along with its content. Proponents of the limited effects theory claim that audiences are generally selective about the media in their daily lives based on their existing beliefs. The culturalist theory focuses on active roles that audiences take in their media viewing and communication habits in terms of evaluating, accepting, or dismissing the messages they see and hear.