The Effects of Elihu Katz: A Stepwise Enrichment of the Concept of Communication Effects

Klaus Bruhn Jensen, W. Russell Neuman


The field of communication research has remained preoccupied with the effects of media, relying all too often on an impoverished notion of “effects.” Departing from Katz and Lazarsfeld’s original differentiation of communication effects as a two-step flow, this article retraces the gradual enrichment of the concept of effects through 6 cumulative traditions of research, illustrating each tradition through reference to Elihu Katz’s sustained and nonsectarian contributions. We detect the implication, across the traditions, that the field should ask about the effects of communication, rather than of media. Having outlined the continuing relevance of the 6 traditions for research on digital communication environments, we go on to identify both a 3rd and a 4th step of communication, which may further enrich research by including within the conceptualization of effects historically variable technological and institutional structures of communication.


media effects, communication effects, multistep flows of communication, communication systems, Elihu Katz

Full Text: