Media systems dependency theory (MSDT), or simply "media dependency," was developed by Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Melvin DeFleur in 1976. The theory is grounded in classical sociological literature positing that media and their audiences should be studied in the context of larger social systems. MSDT ties together the interrelations of broad social systems, mass media, and the individual into a comprehensive explanation of media effects. At its core, the basic dependency hypothesis states that the more a person depends on media to meet needs, the more important media will be in a person's life, and therefore the more effects media will have on a person.
The relationships between components
Dependency on media emerges from three relationships.
1) The relationship between the society and the media Within this relationship, media access and availability are regarded as important antecedents to an individual’s experience with the media. The nature of media dependence on societal systems varies across political, economic, and cultural system.
2) The relationship between the media and the audience This relationship is the key variable in this theory because it affects how people might use a mass medium. This relationship also varies across media systems. The more salient the information needs , the stronger are the motivation to seek mediated information and the dependency on the medium. In result, the likelihood for the media to affect audiences becomes greater.
3) The relationship between the society and the audience. The societies influence consumers’ needs and motives for media use, and provide norms, values, knowledge, and laws for their members. Social system can function an alternatives to the media by offering similar services of the media.
Media needs and media dependency
Three types of needs
According to Ball-Rokeach and DeFleur, three media needs determine how important media is to a person at any...