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Lasswell, Harold D.

Hanno Hardt


Harold Dwight Lasswell (1902–1978), American political scientist with a specific interest in the symbolic aspects of politics (→  Political Communication ; Symbolic Politics ), is considered one of the founders of mass communication research in the United States. Although his wide-ranging and prolific writings on theoretical and methodological issues regarding politics, personality, and culture remained rather peripheral to communication research, his approach to the effects of mass communication (→  Media Effects ) helped define and strengthen a quantitative approach to questions concerning media and communication in the political arena (→  Quantitative Methodology ). Lasswell studied at the University of Chicago with George Herbert Mead, Robert E. Park, and Charles Merriam, while being influenced by John Dewey and American →  pragmatism. He also taught at Chicago (1922–1938) and served as chief of the Experimental Division for the Study of War Time Communications at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, during World War II before joining the Yale law school (1946–1970). Among early contributors to the field of communication studies, Lasswell was particularly knowledgeable about Freudian psychology and Marxist ideology. His insight into the structure of the latter provided a comparative perspective for the analysis of political behavior, long before many of his American ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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