Melvin Defleur

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Melvin Lawrence DeFleur (born April 27, 1923 in Portland, Oregon) is a professor and scholar in the field of communications. His initial field of study was social sciences.



DeFleur received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Washington in 1954. His thesis, Experimental studies of stimulus response relationships in leaflet communication, drew from sociology, psychology, and communication , to study how information diffused through |American communities.

He has taught at Indiana University (1954–1963), the University of Kentucky (1963–1967), Washington State University (1967–1976), the University of New Mexico (1976–1980), the University of Miami (1981–1985), Syracuse University (1987–1994) and the University of Washington before taking his current position as professor of communication at Boston University's Department of Mass Communication, Advertising and Public Relations. In addition, he was a Fulbright Professor to Argentina twice: and was affiliated with the Argentine Sociological Society and the Ibero-Interamerican Sociological Society, for which he served as Secretary General.

DeFleur is married to Margaret DeFleur, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research, [1]

Academic work

His early work owes a debt to Stuart C. Dodd and George A. Lundberg, sociologists and psychologists. This group applied quantitative measure, statistical data analyses, and descriptive mathematical models used in the physical sciences to the development of sociology (DeFleur & Larsen, 1987).

Another force affected his work: He began his career when the memories of World War II were fresh, and entered into the academic world when the Cold War played a critical role in shaping the United States' political, economic and social atmosphere. Social psychology research added to the knowledge that the United States government and military felt they needed for operating in a new world dynamic (East v. West). For example, the leafleting processes studied by Project Revere were an obvious way to communicate information to a displaced, captive, or isolated population.

He maintained a sociological focus during the early 1970s, co-writing an introductory sociology textbook that went into several editions. He co-authored a study of discrimination in university hiring practices, particularly in sociology departments (Wolfe et al., 1973), again with a strong emphasis on statistics and survey methods. However, his focus shifted. With the spread of television , he began to study the mass media. Specifically, he researched the effect of television on children's knowledge of occupational roles, and on the factors that influence the content and output of the American broadcasting systems. He and others established a formal definition of social expectations theory, applied to a model to predict that watching television attunes a viewer to social organization patterns of various groups, even if they "have never been members or never will be" (DeFleur & Ball-Rokeach, 1989). Other works examined the potential relationships forged by mass media between the perception of social problems and their portrayal by the media (Hubbard et al., 1975). He wrote of his suggestion of a cultural norms theory in 1970, an idea that, in his estimation, "provided the foundation for the more comprehensive social expectations theory" (DeFleur & Ball-Rokeach, 1989).

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