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date: 21 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

One of the most important tasks facing media scholars in the twenty-first century is re-examining the relevance of classic mass communication theories in a new information environment. Technological and social transformations have changed the practices of media production, dissemination, and consumption. Recent developments have called into question existing theoretical and methodological approaches to media research. At the same time, these developments have supplied the tools needed to address emerging challenges. Network science provides one way of investigating the diffusion of information and patterns of influence among individuals, groups, and organizations. This chapter presents a network-based model of media message flows and agenda-setting processes to illustrate how the exploration of complex systems can produce insights into mass communication theory. The conclusion of the chapter outlines challenges related to the use of computational techniques, including transparency and replicability standards, as well as the ethics and privacy norms guiding large-scale data collection.

Keywords: mass communication, media system, computational social science, network science, agenda setting, two-step flow of communication

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