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Lazarsfeld, Paul F.

Hanno Hardt


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Paul Felix Lazarsfeld (1901–1976), Vienna-born sociologist, influenced by Ernst Mach, Henri Poincaré, and Albert Einstein, and intellectually close to the Vienna Circle of logical positivism, called himself a “European positivist.” He was the founder of modern empirical sociology and a major figure in twentieth-century American sociology. His contributions to the study of communication grew out of his collaborative work at the Bureau of Applied Social Research , which he had founded at New York's Columbia University in 1937. His position was firmly established with the publication of The people's choice ( Lazarsfeld et al. 1944 ) and Personal influence ( Katz & Lazarsfeld 1955 ), which set the stage for the social scientific exploration of communication in modern society. Lazarsfeld's work is also an example of the intellectual contributions made by emigré scholars to American scholarship during and after World War II. Lazarsfeld's research on the social and political impact of radio as a new medium (→  Radio: Social History ) reinforced his leading role in forging the direction of mass communication studies after World War II, and further illustrates his understanding of what he termed administrative research . His response to the spread of literacy and the rise of a centralized system of mass communication was a call for a philosophical grounding and a systematic approach ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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