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Ball-Rokeach, Sandra

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Emeritus professor at Annenberg School for Communication (University of California), Sandra Ball-Rokeach (Canada, 1941), is considered to be one of the main researchers of mass media effects.

Among her contributions to the field, we find “Media dependency theory”, through which she argues that media influence depends on social structure, on the role that media systems play in a particular society, as well as on the audience’s need for information. Media dependency theory is a multidisciplinary theory that integrates functionalist, structuralist, psychological and critical influences; through this theory, Ball-Rokeach states that media influence is neither direct nor universal; instead, it is established through informative dependency relationships between the media and their audience. Throughout her career, Sandra Ball-Rokeach has published some of the referential texts in functionalist thought during the 20th century. Some of these books are Theories of Mass Communication (1966), Media System Dependency Theory (1976) —both co-authored by Ball-Rokeach and M. DeFleur— or Media, Audience and Society (1986) —published by Ball-Rokeach and M. Cantor—.

Sandra Ball-Rokeach started the first Gender Studies program at Washington State University. She has been Chair of the International Communication Association (ICA), and she is editor and member of the editorial board of some of the most recognized journals in the field of communication (Journal of Communication, Communication Studies, International Journal of Communication, etc.). She has been rewarded with the most prestigious award of the discipline: she is a Fellow of the International Communication Association. She is a multidisciplinary scholar, committed to social justice and to ethic media for minorities. Her contributions make her a necessary reference when talking about media studies during the last 50 years.

Selected publications:

  • De Fleur, M. & Ball-Rokeach, S. (1966). Theories of mass communication. David McKay Company.
  • Ball-Rokeach, S. & DeFleur, M. (1976). A dependency model of mass-media effects. Communication Research, 3, 3–21.
  • Ball-Rokeach, S., Rokeach, M. & Grube, J. (1984). The great American values test: Influencing belief and behavior through television. Free press.
  • Ball-Rokeach, S. & Cantor, M. (1986) (eds.). Media, audience and social structure. Sage Publications.

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