Analyzing the Authoritarian Theory

Analyzing the Authoritarian Theory

Course: Communication and Society

Written: January 21, 2014 
Published: January 10, 2017
© All Rights Reserved

Intro and Historical Context

Originating in the 1600s-1700s, the premise of the Authoritarian theory supports the reasoning that media is controlled and censored by the government or the elite.

Perspectives and Missing Elements

The article discusses implications of the Authoritarian theory comprehensively. However, one missing element is an analysis of the Authoritarian theory from the consumer's perspective. Because the article was written in 1957, it doesn't address how technological advances complicate censorship. These elements are important because they would provide depth and breadth.


One logical assumption of the Authoritarian theory is that individuals in a higher socioeconomic class have access to more truth. The current issue of net neutrality supports this view. One illogical assumption is the belief that rulers and government solely represent "the wise." One could question: Is being wise only contingent on higher ruling or family wealth?

Authoritarian Theory in a New Context

The article mentions that the Authoritarian theory exists in other parts of the world. In conventional wisdom, extreme forms of media censorship occur in Islamic and Russian countries, in comparison to the United States. This is to not say that non-Communist countries like the U.S., haven’t been accused of Authoritarianism.

Authoritarian Theory Within the Contemporary Communication Environment

In my point of view, the foundational principle of the Authoritarian theory exists today and in professional communication. The 1% or the "elites" do exercise control over what ideologies are presented to the masses because they fund the news outlets. An article by Ashley Lutz supports my reasoning by emphasizing “almost all media comes from the same six sources” (par. 1). Therefore,  it's logical that the owners of these sources are apart of the 1% and not the 99%.

The Authoritarian theory relates to ethics because some may believe it’s unethical for governments and kings to control or censor what's being reported. Conclusively, the essential question with any theory of expression is 'What information is missing and why?'




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