The Two-Step flow of communication was originally derived by Lazersfield and a group of sociologist in 1944 (Katz, 1957). Eleven years later Katz adapted the model (Katz, 1957). The original hypothesis of the Two-Step Flow of communication, described a verbal flow of communication. In which mass media flows to opinion leaders and then audience (opinion followers). The opinion followers are more or less disconnected about media landscapes, and therefore take in the information from the opinion holders. There is an interconnection of communication. Factors in this model include: the level of personal Influence, the flow of that personal influence, and the opinion leaders’ involvement with mass media (Katz,1957). The flow of personal influence describes where their certain interpersonal communication ranked higher than others (Katz,1957). Katz stresses that personal influence can be a stronger and more effective influencer than mass media.
Mass media usage differs within communities. A poll was conducted and information was diffused about the passing of Senator Taft (Larsen and Hill 1954). The information was spread across the radio, television, and newspaper. The white communities were recorded as being the most informed about this issue. It was also concluded that in that same neighborhood, the least informed were non-white (Larsen and Hill,1954). The degree of interpersonal communications was significantly higher amongst the white community members. This shows that interpersonal relations played a key role in the transmission of a message. In this example, it is more powerful than mass media itself. This directly relates to Katz modernization to the Two-Step flow of communication. Opinion leaders are not just famous nor recognizable people. Upon further studies and research Katz concluded that there are these “opinion leaders” on every level of society (Katz,1957). This is adaptation of the original model suggests that the communicatory process can be transitive.
The Two-Step flow of communication process takes place across all scopes of media. An example of this would be mass media like television or newspapers that feature opinion leaders and strong influencers. Such as the President of the United States and Oprah Winfrey. Both capture large demographics and vastly differing ones. Audience members would be more likely to relate to homogenous opinion leaders. For example, a democratic party member would not be as influenced by Trump’s information as a Trump-supporting Republican would. Contrarily, Oprah Winfrey is a well-known Democrat and spokesperson for women and racial issues. There are a lot of women and minorities that would listen to her for knowledge about worldly topics over Trump. Their respective audiences gain much of their information from those people about important issues in the world today.
The Two-Step flow of communication model is important due to the fact that it helps explain how masses of people obtain their information. This model also describes an easily influenced and gullible audience. The Two-Step Theory also focuses on the effects and behaviors of the opinion followers. In a democratic society, the ability to get messages out to audiences can lead to sufficient political gain and power.
Katz, E. (1957). The Two-Step Flow of Communication: An Up-To-Date Report on an Hypothesis. The Public Opinion Quarterly,21(1), 61-78. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2746790
Larsen, O., & Hill, R. (1954). Mass Media and Interpersonal Communication in the Diffusion of a News Event. American Sociological Review, 19(4), 426-433. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2087462
Image Attribution: Image 1: “Two-step flow of Communication” by Nisomlevi, CC BY-SA 3.0; Image 2: “Old television Set” by Rfc1934, CC BY-SA 3.0; Image 3: “Oprah Winfrey (2004)” byAlan Light, CC BY-SA 3.0; Image 4: “Donald Trump responds to a question during Q&A with Reef Cordish” by Sheela Craighead, CC BY-SA 3.1
Written by Cassidy Quattro, 2018