Paul Lazarsfeld and the Origins of Communications Research: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Paul Lazarsfeld and the Origins of Communications Research

1st Edition

By Hynek Jeřábek


146 pages

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Hardback: 9781138691827
pub: 2017-06-13
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The manuscript discusses the early days of communication research, explicitly the first works of Paul Lazarsfeld’s radio and media research in Vienna, Newark, NJ, Princeton and New York during the years between the early 1930s, and the end of the 1940s. Lazarsfeld’s Viennese radio research, especially the world’s first extensive audience research – RAVAG study (1931) – is entirely new information for English speaking scholars. The book shows the details of Lazarsfeld’s methodological reasoning in his projects in the field of communication. The book also presents the research institutes that Lazarsfeld founded in Vienna in 1931, from Newark Center in New Jersey (1935) to Princeton Office of Radio Research in 1937, and up to the foundation of Lazarsfeld’s famous BASR at Columbia University in New York in the 1940s. The monograph shows how important Lazarsfeld’s first studies were for the future development of communication.


"Hynek Jerábek reviews and celebrates Paul Lazarsfeld’s pioneering role in the establishment of empirical social science, particularly in the field of communication. The book dwells on the ingenuity displayed in Lazarsfeld’s earliest work, theoretical and methodological, and on the organizational settings that he created. And, lest we forget, the book reminds us of the intellectual vibrancy of Lazarsfeld’s Vienna." - Professor (emeritus) Elihu Katz, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, and Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

"Paul F. Lazarsfeld belongs to the small group of scientists who are most frequently quoted in international social science journals. What is today called organized social research owes much to his having pioneered the establishing and institutionalization of this type of research in the form of the Columbia University Bureau of Applied Social research and its predecessors. His contributions to the social sciences were of diverse styles and in diverse substantive domains (from mass communication to voting behaviour and from unemployment to the impact of McCarthyanism on American academic life), but, quite evidently, his most influential work in the social sciences has been of methodological nature as many scholars have confirmed. Hynek Jerabek is a scholar well informed about all these topics and he is a devoted Lazarsfeld-researcher. His book opens useful and worthwhile insights on the early days of Paul F. Lazarsfeld´s communication research, including the famous RAVAG-study of 1931 in Vienna, on the founding and development of the diverse research institutes, and on the progress of methodology of social research inspired by Paul F. Lazarsfeld. The text is particularly suited to introduce the interested reader to life and work of Paul F. Lazarsfeld." - Professor Anton Amann, University of Vienna

"This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the origins of communication research. For English speaking scholars unfamiliar with Lazarsfeld’s Viennese communication research then Jerabek’s account of Lazarsfeld’s radio research will prove fascinating as well as instructive to his later work in America. This is a ‘must read book’ on the history of the field." - Professor David E. Morrison, University of Leeds

"This volume remembers the multiple scientific merits of Paul Lazarsfeld, particularly in the field of research methodology. It will be appreciated by students of political science and sociology, as well as by historians of political and social research, and its methods." - Dr Michal Illner, The Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

"Hynek Jerábek is a known expert in the field of Lazarsfeld´s, respectively lazarsfeldian methodology, where he has already published a number of monographs and scientific studies. In this book, he clearly demonstrates the methodological innovations and institutional context of the communication research, which was founded, and in the 30s and 40s successfully developedby P.F. Lazarsfeld. Jerábek´s book demonstrates the basic principles and methods of communication research, but also integrates a perspective on methodological dimension of communication research within its historical dimension. It is a rare approach in sociological literature, and is both beneficial and inspiring. This book is highly recommended to all those interested in communication research." - Professor Juraj Schenk, Comenius University

Table of Contents

Foreword to the English edition


1. Contexts of Paul Lazarsfeld’s Communication Studies

1.1. Paul Lazarsfeld’s Life Story

1.2. The Social Context of Lazarsfeld’s Life and Work in Vienna

1.3. Place of Communication’s Research in the Context of Lazarsfeld’s Work

1.4. Paul Lazarsfeld’s Contribution to Communications Studies in Mass Communication Theory and Research Contexts

2. Paul Lazarsfeld’s First 'Communications Studies'

2.1. The early stages of cooperation with Austrian Radio - Psychological Experiments

2.2. Research on Radio-Wein Listeners - Lazarsfeld’s RAVAG Stusy

2.3. Magazines in American Cities - Secondary Analysis of Aggregate Data

3. Princeton’s Years of Radio Research

3.1. The Serach for a Project Director

3.2. The First Research Reports

3.3. Radio and the Printed Page

3.3.1. Analysing and Building Radio Audiences 3.3.2. Radio and Print: Reciprocal Influences

3.4. The Research Moves to Columbia University

4. The Radio Research Yearbooks During World War 2

4.1. Radio Broadcasting for Specific Groups of Listeners

4.2. Music Broadcasting Analysis and Paul Lazarsfeld’s Collaboration with

Theodore Adorno

4.3. Wartime Radio Broadcasting in America’s Democratic Society

4.4. Radio Audience Research in Great Britain

4.5. German Radio Propaganda - Research Project on Totalitarian Communication

4.6. Content Analysis of Daytime Serials and Social Analysis of Female Listeners

4.7. Research Uses of the ' Program Analyzer' and Measuring Its Validity

and Reliability

5. Two Major Studies by Paul Lazarsfeld’s Colleagues

5.1. Invasion from Mars - A Study of the Panic Caused by a Radio Broadcast

5.2. Mass Persuasion - War Bond Drive

6. Representative Studies of Radio Listeners

6.1. Listener Populatioins and Overlapping Audiences

6.2. Criticism of Advertising and Measuring Criticism

7. The Birth of Communication Research

7.1. Who Doesn’t Listen to Daytime Serials ? What advice for Radio Stations?

7.2. What Does it Mean for Readers to “Miss their Newspapers”?

7.3. Types of Personal Influence and Models of Influence in Local Communities: R. K. Merton's Study of Influence as an Example of a New Type of Comunication Research

8. Lazarsfeld’s Communications Research: Its Credo and its Contribution to Sociology

About the Author

Hynek Jerábek is a professor of sociology at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General