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Due to My Life

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‘미디어와 현대사회’ | 매스미디어 일반이론 리뷰 | 국내연구사례 - <대통령지지도와 언론의 관계를 통해 살펴본 여론의 순환적 형성에 관한 연구> |

호텔경영학과 111386백새봄 |

1. 문제제기(연구배경) 및 연구 목적
지난 6월 21일자 뉴욕타임스는 부시 대통령의 지지도가 지난 5년간 조사 중 가장 낮은 대통령 지지도인 50퍼센트에 머물고 있다는 여론조사의 결과를 보도했지만, 약 3개월 후 뉴욕타임즈는 부시 대통령의 지지도가 갤럽조사 이래 가장 높은 지지도인 90퍼센트라는 결과를 보도하게 된다.어떻게 이런 결과가 발생할 수 있는지 본 논문은 지난 40년간의 미국의 대통령 지지도 변동을 통해 언론의 여론 조사 결과 보도와 공중의 여론형성의 관계를 탐구하고자 한다. 특히, 본 연구는 언론의 여론조사 결과 보도와 공중의 여론 형성이 상호 독립되어 있지 않다는 전제에서 출발하며, 언론과 여론의 상호작용 속에서 언론의 여론조사 결과 보도가 결국 사회의 다수 여론을 순환적으로 증폭시키는 영향을 갖는 다는 것을 실증적으로 고찰하고자 한다. 이 연구는 ‘침묵의 나선 이론’의 이론적 자원을 비판적으로 활용하여, 여론과 언론간의 상호영향 하에서 다수의 의견이 증폭되는 과정을 실증적으로 살펴보았다. 본 논문은 지난 40년간 축적된 미대통령의 지지도와 뉴욕타임스의 대통령지지도 관련 보도의 분석을 이용하여, 언론의 보도가 대통령의 직무수행에 대한 여론의 변동에 의해 영향을 받는 측면과 함께, 대통령 직무 수행에 대한 여론의 변동이 언론의 관련 보도에 의해 영향을 받는 측면을 동시에 고찰함으로써 언론과 여론간의 양방향의 상호영향에 대한 실증적 사례를 제시하고자 한다. 2. 이론적 배경 : 침묵의 나선이론과 보완점 침묵의 나선이론은 여론 변화를 설명하는데 있어서, 여론형성과정의 역동성에 주목하였다. 이 이론에 따르면, 자신의 의견이 다수의견 편에 있거나 또는 지금 상승중인 의견 편에 있다고 믿는 사람들의 경우 자신의 의견을 적극적으로 표출하지만, 자신의 의견이 소수에 있거나 하강중인 의견 편에 있다고 생각되면 침묵하는 경향이 있다고 한다. 즉, 개인이 의견을 형성할 때 스스로의 판단 외에 타인의 의견 또한 중요하게 작용한다는 것이다. 그러나 침묵의 나선이론은 침묵의 이유 및 언론의 영향을 지나치게 단순화 시킨다는 지적을 받고 있다. 이 사회에 매일 수없이 많은 이슈와 사건들이 발생하고, 그에 대한 언론과 공중의 관심이 시시각각 변동하고 있는데, 개인과 언론매체 사이에 늘 같은 관계만 존재한다는 것이 비현실적인 지나친 단순화라고 할 수 있다. 이러한 침묵의 나선이론이 가진 단점을 의제설정이론과 프레이밍 이론이 보완해준다. 3. 연구가설 및 주요 변인들 본 연구는 언론과 여론의 관계를 양방향의 상호 인과 관계로 설정함으로써 연구가설을 검증하고자 하는데, 다음과 같이 연구가설 1과 2, 그리고 3을 설정했다.
연구가설1: 응집-대통령 지지도가 평균치보다 높거나 낮은 수준으로 응집될수록 대통령 지지도를 보도하는 기사의 수는 증가할 것이다.
연구가설2: 변화-대통령지지도가 지난달에 비해 큰 폭으로 변화할수록 대통령 지지도를 보도하는 기사의 수는 증가할 것이다.
위 연구가설 1과 2를 통해 여론이 갖고 있는 두 가지의 성향인 ‘지지도의 쏠림현상(응집)’과 ‘급격한 변화’가 언론의 보도에 미치는 영향을 알아보도록 한다.
연구가설3: 증감효과- 언론 매체에 의한 대통령 지지도 보도는 이후의 대통령 지지도에 정 방향의 증가 효과를 가질 것이다.
위 연구가설3은 언론의 보도가 이후의 대통령 지지도에 미치는 영향을 알아 볼 수 있도록 설정하였다. 4. 연구방법 지난 40년간 뉴욕타임스에 게재된 대통령 지지도 관련 기사들을 탐색하여, 각각에 대한 내용분석을 실시했다. 이를 통해 1)한 달간의 대통령 지지도 보도 회수, 2)보도된 대통령 지지도, 3)기사의 지지도 프레임 등에 관련된 자료를 모았다. 5. 연구결과 연구 결과, 대통령 지지도 관련 보도는 여론의 응집과 변화에 의해 영향을 받고, 이는 다시 이후에 다수 여론을 증폭시키는 결과를 갖는 것으로 보여졌다. 이 점은 기존의 침묵의 나선이론이 제시하는 여론의 형성과정과 일치하는 듯 해 보인다. 그러나, 침묵의 나선이론이 가정하는 것과는 달리 언론이 갖고 있는 뉴스의 틀을 통해 전달하는 상대적 다수의 확인이 여론의 순환적 형성의 주요과정임을 확인하였다. 또한, 침묵의 나선이론에서 가정하는 여론에 대한 언론과 공중의 지속적인 관심이라는 전제는 지나치게 단순화되어 있다는 것이 맞았다. 이번 연구의 결과를 통해, 커뮤니케이션의 주요 이론인 침묵의 나선이론과 뉴스 프레이밍 이론(틀짓기 이론)끼리의 연결을 시도한 것이 함의임을 찾을 수 있다. 각 이론을 통해 많은 연구 성과를 거두고 있지만, 이러한 이론들끼리의 유기적 관계를 연구함으로써 집합적인 정치 현실을 구성하는 미디어 효과에 대한 탐구는 발전될 수 있는 것이다.
<연구에 대한 평가 및 나의 견해>
침묵의 나선이론은 의견분위기의 형성에 있어서 개인적인 의견 형성의 과정으로만 보았던 과거와 다르게, 사회적인 차원의 여론 형성과정으로 광범위하게 통합시켰다는 점에서 여론에 대한 연구가 한층 발전되는데 이바지 했다고 볼 수 있다. 그러나 이론을 자세히 들여다 보면, 개념에 대한 명확한 설명이 부족하고, 또한 매스커뮤니케이션 환경에서 나타날 수 있는 다른 인구학적, 문화적 차이를 간과하는 등 다양하고 변화되는 환경에 따라 달라지는 매체의 영향에 대한 고려도 없는 상태로 단순화 시킨 것은 검증되지 않은, 다분히 특정 상황에서만 효과가 발휘되는 이론이라는 비판을 받는다. 이러한 이론을 연구에 뒷받침되도록 활용하면서, 보완이 필요한 여러 부분은 다른 이론의 좋은 점들을 유기적으로 연결시켜 검증을 시도한 것은, 연구의 내용 자체에도 도움이 되는 적절한 일이기도 하지만, 이 연구를 통해, 다른 이들에게 연구할 때에 이론을 활용하는 좋은 태도에 관해 보여줄 수 있다는 생각이 든다.

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