Media scholar Michael Morgan has written a critical overview of the work of his former mentor and colleague: George Gerbner: A Critical Introduction to Media and Communication Theory (Peter Lang, 2012).
This under-200 page textbook of sorts succinctly maps the trajectory of one of the field’s founding fathers–beginning with research from pre-Cultural Indicators times when he developed his model for communication, looked at confession magazines not only for content patterns but institutional practices, and gathered and analyzed representations of mental illness in the media. He also studied mass communication’s relation to education, a concern going back to his dissertation days. One can trace how his early work morphed into what would be his opus, Cultural Indicators, a sprawling “long-term, integrated, and cumulative analysis of (1) media institutions, (2) dominant message patterns, and (3) audience images and conceptions.” No one is better situated to walk us through the evolution of this project, stopping for lessons in message system analysis, institutional process analysis, cultivation analysis, mean world syndrome, and mainstreaming, than Dr. Morgan who was there, actively so, when it all went down. The volume includes a useful 11-page bibliography.
It was nice to see The Annenberg School’s George Gerbner Archive acknowledged; we are certainly grateful for Dr. Morgan’s donations to the Archive as well as a few corrections in documentation details which he generously sent our way in the course of his work.