Elihu Katz papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Annenberg School for Communication Library Archives [Contact Us]3620 Walnut Street, Philadelpia, PA 19104
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Annenberg School for Communication Library Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Elihu Katz is an American Israeli sociologist and media scholar who has made substantial contributions to the field of communication, specifically in the areas of media effects, diffusion, uses and gratifications and reception, and media events.
Katz was born on May 31, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York to parents of Eastern European Jewish descent. As a child he attended the Yeshiva of Flatbush, where he learned Hebrew at age 6. Katz's earliest aspiration was to be a circus manager, but after discovering that it would be nearly impossible to wrangle lions, tigers, bears, and observe the Sabbath, he abandoned his big top dreams, focusing instead on becoming a journalist. It was in pursuit of this goal that Katz, following his graduation from Midwood High School in 1944, began a BA at Columbia College in Manhattan. His studies were interrupted, however, by a stint in the United States Army from 1944-1946, during which he was trained as a Japanese interpreter at the University of Chicago, and stationed briefly overseas.
Returning to Columbia upon the conclusion of his military service, Katz completed his undergraduate degree in 1948. He continued at Columbia as a graduate student, having been drawn to a program in the Department of Sociology, which had strengths in public opinion and communication and was headed by two men preeminent in the sociological field: Paul F. Lazarsfeld (Katz's soon-to-be mentor), and Robert K. Merton. Katz took a concurrent job at the affiliated Bureau for Applied Social Research, an arrangement then common. Leo Lowenthal of Frankfurt School renown was also involved with the Department, preparing for his position as Research Director of the Voice of America. As Lowenthal's student, Katz obtained his MA in 1950 with a thesis titled The Happiness Game, which dealt with fan mail to a radio personality.
Around this time, Katz met Ruth Torgovnik—a young musicologist and Israeli cultural emissary—through the course of his involvement with Columbia's Intercollegiate Zionist Federation of America. They would marry in 1951, and have two children, Matthew and Nathaniel.
Following his work with Lowenthal, Katz inherited an unfinished study by Lazarsfeld and others born of efforts that culminated in 1944's The People's Choice. Therein, Lazarsfeld had suggested the highly influential model of a "two-step flow of communication," which challenged the popular assumption that the media produced powerful effects in an atomized, passive mass audience, and instead asserted the importance of person-to-person exchange and agency in deliberative processes. Katz's analysis and shaping of the data from the incomplete, follow-up study led not only to his dissertation, but also the publication—coauthored with Lazarsfeld—of Personal Influence: The Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communication in 1955. The book proved monumental to the field, and its focus on the juncture of mass media and interpersonal communication would be a prime conceptual mover in Katz's career.
In 1954, Katz officially left the Bureau. Like many of his Columbia colleagues, he took a position in the University of Chicago's Department of Sociology. Soon thereafter, in addition to Chicago, Katz assumed a post at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1956, where he set up the Communications Institute with Michael Gurevitch and Dina Goren in 1965. He also assumed a role in the mid-1960s at the Israel Institute of Applied Social Research (IIASR), which was modeled after Lazarsfeld's Columbia Bureau.
At Chicago, Katz proceeded in exploring research domains suggested by the implications of Personal Influence—the microcosm of decision-making giving way to the diffusion of influence amongst and across groups. Looking at the importance of both the media and interpersonal networks, Katz, along with James Coleman and Herbert Menzel, tracked the adoption of a new drug by various communities of physicians. The researchers' efforts eventually resulted in the 1966 publication of Medical Innovation: A Diffusion Study. Katz then extended his treatment of spreading novelty from individuals to include municipalities' acceptance of fluoridation, coming out in 1969 with The Politics of Community Conflict: The Fluoridation Decision, alongside coauthors Robert Crain and Donald Rosenthal.
Much of Katz's work in Jerusalem during this period was motivated by the huge influx of immigrants to Israel at the end of the 1950s, and the difficulties of productive intercultural negotiation. Together with Brenda Danet, Katz studied, among other things, the interactions of passengers and bus drivers, appeals to customs agents, and the justifications offered by supplicants when asking favors of God in prayer. These projects, and similar undertakings by others, are laid out in the 1973 Bureaucracy and the Public: A Reader in Official-Client Relations.
Due in large part to certain communication deficiencies foregrounded during the course of the Six-Day War, Israeli officials decided in 1967 to expand the nation's broadcast presence beyond radio. Katz, ever peregrinatious, took leave of his Jerusalem and Chicago academic appointments for two years in order to concentrate the whole of his energies on heading Israel's nascent television service. Although his tenure was brief, the fecund ground it sowed for him would yield interesting opportunities in the future. He left the service in 1969, returning to the Hebrew University and IIASR—but not Chicago—where he began studying Israeli secularization and leisure.
As a direct result of his television work, Katz was asked by the BBC in 1975 to appraise the state of broadcasting in England, and produced the 1977 report Social Research on Broadcasting: Proposals for Further Development. The same year, in collaboration with George Wedell, Katz published Broadcasting in the Third World: Promise and Performance, on the politically idealistic establishment, and ensuing diversionary ramifications, of television projects in developing countries. This continued involvement with TV, especially his BBC report, brought Katz to the attention of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication, and in 1978 he began teaching there—commuting between Los Angeles and Jerusalem.
All the while Katz had continued pursuing issues raised by his work with Lazarsfeld—specifically, the empowerment of the audience at the expense of omnipotent mass media. Now that viewers and listeners had been reactivated, so to speak, Katz and others were interested in the ways by which that activity manifested in relation to mass media, and to what ends. In 1974, he and Jay Blumler produced an edited volume on the subject, The Uses of Mass Communication: Current Perspectives on Gratifications Research. Katz's efforts in this area would later find their most articulated expression in 1990's The Export of Meaning: Cross-Cultural Readings of Dallas, which detailed the reception studies he conducted with Tamar Liebes, wherein they explored the sundry audience decodings of the primetime soap opera by individuals of diverse cultural background.
If The Export of Meaning represented Katz's expression of a maximally enervated mass media—in the "limited effects" tradition inaugurated by Personal Influence—then his next book, Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History, returned some of the media's potency. The inspiration for Media Events began in Jerusalem with Katz's, and his collaborator Daniel Dayan's, revisitation of televised events such as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's 1977 visit to Jerusalem. Their initial curiosity launched a fifteen-year project to understand the social implications and ramifications of large-scale spectacles, which demand the simultaneous attention of a whole nation, or the world, and result in the elaborate enactment of mediated rituals serving to consolidate group identities and direct public opinion.
Throughout the 1990s, as scientific director of the Guttman Institute (formerly the IIASR), Katz was also involved in survey work focused on the views of Israeli citizens relating to the major social and political happenings of the day. His efforts resulted in numerous reports and publications, including the books The Jewishness of Israelis: Responses to the Guttman Report and Negotiating Jerusalem.
In 1993, after leaving USC and officially retiring from (but maintaining some involvement with) the Hebrew University, Katz joined the faculty of the other Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where he established the post-doctoral Annenberg Scholars Program. Katz's work in this period was born of his enduring concern with diffusion, which led him to a conceptual rediscovery of the French sociologist Gabriel Tarde. In particular, Katz argued that Tarde's essay of 1898, "Opinion and Conversation," acted as an incredibly prescient theoretical forerunner to much that had gone on in communication scholarship since—anticipating everything from "agenda setting," to Lazarsfeld's "two-step flow," to the diffusion of innovation, and even the aggregation of public opinion. His efforts, and those of coauthors Christopher Ali and Joohan Kim, culminated in 2014's Echoes of Gabriel Tarde: What We Know Better or Different 100 Years Later—a hypertext "dialogue" examining the development of communication through a Tardean lens.
2014 also marked Katz's retirement from the Pennsylvanian Annenberg. He finally settled year-round in Jerusalem, where he continues his research and writing.
First, Anat, and Hanna Adoni. "The Story of the Communication Field in Israel: Nation Building, Personal Transfer, and Growth." In The International History of Communication Study, edited by Peter Simonson and David W. Park, 495-514. New York: Routledge, 2016.
Katz, Elihu, curriculum vitae, June 2004.
Katz, Elihu. "Where we stand." Presentation at Fits and Misfits between Media and Constituencies at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, Jerusalem, Israel, May 9, 1996.
Katz, Elihu. "Yet again." Presentation at a retirement event at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, March 6, 2014.
Livingstone, Sonia. "The Work of Elihu Katz: Conceptualizing Media Effects in Context." In The International Handbook of Media Research, edited by John Corner, Philip Schelsinger, and Roger Silverstone, 18-47. London: Routledge, 1997.
This initial portion of Katz's papers was transferred from his office at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, and primarily documents his scholarly and professional activities from the early 1980s to 2014. Well-represented are materials pertaining to, or created during his tenure as the scientific director at the Guttman Institute of Applied Research (later absorbed into the Israel Democracy Institute), and as a professor at both the University of Southern California and University of Pennsylvania. These materials include correspondence, drafts, outlines, notes and research, conference proceedings, course syllabi and documents, and public opinion surveys, among others. Evidence of Katz's involvement with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Broadcasting Authority is also present, but less substantial than that associated with those institutions and times mentioned above. Additionally, a small amount of personal matter and items relating to the University of Chicago is extent. Processing of the remainder of the collection (the contents of Katz's Hebrew University office) is ongoing, and this finding aid will be updated as additional material becomes available.
Currently, the collection is divided into ten series: I. General Correspondence; II. Project Files; III. Other Writings and Research; IV. Professional Events; V. Honors and Awards; VI. Teaching Files; VII. Guttman Institute of Applied Social Research; VIII. Israel Broadcasting Authority; IX. Biographical and Personal Materials; and X. Restricted. A more detailed description of materials can be found at the series level.
Whenever possible, Katz's original order has been maintained, which accounts for the fact that versions of the same document (especially paper drafts) appear in multiple locations.
This collection will be of value not only to researchers curious about Katz's personal contributions to communication and mass media scholarship, public opinion research, and, to a lesser extent, Israeli television, but also to those interested in the history and development of communication as an academic discipline in the 20th, and early 21st centuries.
Donated by Elihu Katz in 2015.
- Louis Guttman Institute of Applied Social Research
- Israel Broadcasting Authority
- Hebrew University of Jerusalem
- Bureau of Applied Social Research (Columbia University)
- Annenberg School for Communication (University of Pennsylvania)
- Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism (University of Southern California)
- Television broadcasting policy
- Television broadcasting -- Israel
- Sociology -- Study and teaching
- Political sociology
- Public opinion polls
- Mass media -- Social aspects
- Communication -- Research
- Communication -- Study and teaching
- Judaism -- Israel -- Public opinion
- Mass media -- Audiences
- Mass media -- Research
- University of Pennsylvania: Annenberg School for Communication Library Archives
- Finding Aid Author
- Jordan Mitchell, based in part on previous work by Deborah Lubken and Jefferson Pooley
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
The bulk of this collection is open for research use; however, materials in boxes 37-39 are restricted from access until 2094 because they contain personally identifiable information (or due to preservation concerns, in which case, facsimiles exist within the collection). Researchers interested in the content of these boxes should contact the Annenberg Library Archives for further information.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Annenberg Library Archives.
Correspondence in this series mostly documents Katz's communication with colleagues and academic peers from 1974 to 2013, and relates to research, publications, and professional activities. To a lesser extent, various personal exchanges are also extant.
Katz's incoming and outgoing correspondence is filed together, and arranged alphabetically by correspondent's last name or corporate title.
Researchers should note that correspondence pertaining to specific projects, events, or positions undertaken will be found in the appropriate series or subseries below.
Includes proposal to establish a graduate communication program at Hebrew University; Language Note: Some Hebrew
Includes copies of correspondence between McKluskie, Paul Lazarsfeld, and Robert Merton
Includes educational materials and comic books pertaining to the history of the Third Reich; Language note: Some German
Series II not only contains correspondence, drafts, notes, and research materials pertaining to some of Katz's most well-known works, but also evinces his tendency to explore a particular conceptual territory via multiple avenues (resulting in myriad, related expressions) over great periods of time.
Spanning the years 1969 to 2014, Project Files is divided into nine subseries: A. Diffusion, B. Election Studies, C. The End of Television?, D. The Export of Meaning, E. Gabriel Tarde, F. Israel Center for Media Literacy, G. Media Effects, H. Media Events, and I. Personal Influence (Reissue). Each is arranged chronologically by publication, presentation, or creation date. Loose notes, background materials, clippings, and reviews are always placed last, regardless of chronology.
Researchers should note that the Personal Influence subseries relates only to the 2005 reissue, and not the 1955 original.
This subseries is divided into two sub-subseries. The arragement of the first is based on the order of presenters at the colloquium. The second corresponds to the sequence of chapters in the published volume.
Other Writings and Research comprises Katz's undertakings which are more expressively and temporally discreet than those detailed in Project Files above. Correspondence, drafts, notes, and research materials are present.
This series, with dates ranging from circa 1969 to 2010, is divided into eleven subseries, including A. Proposals; B. Books; C. Book Sections; D. Articles; E. Studies and Reports; F. Essays and Lectures; G. Reviews; H. Unpublished; and I. Notes and Background Materials. All—except the final subseries—are arranged chronologically by publication, presentation, or creation date. Notes and Background Materials is organized alphabetically by subject, and contains a great deal of annotations and notes pertaining to others' work.
Response to Chomsky's "Al Aqsa Intifada"
Series IV documents Katz's attendance of, and participation in, various talks, conferences, symposia, and colloquia from 1963 to 2007. It offers a good overview of the range of his academic and professional interests. Often, drafts of papers that would grow into more fleshed-out efforts (e.g., the articles or chapters of Series II and III above) can be found in these folders. Also present are correspondence, notes and, event materials.
Professional Events is arranged chronologically by event date.
Researchers interested in this facet of Katz's activities should see also Series V below.
Related to Social Research and Broadcasting: Proposals for Further Study
This series has some overlap with the preceding, but focuses on events specifically honoring Katz from 1987 to 2014. Again, his range academic and professional interests and influence is well-documented, and correspondence, nascent works, notes, and event materials abound.
Honors and Awards is arranged chronologically by event date.
As mentioned, researchers may want to consult Series IV and V in conjunction.
Series VI documents Katz's time and efforts as a professor at multiple institutions during his career, and includes correspondence, course syllabi and documents, notes, and conference materials. Also present are materials pertaining to Katz's leadership of the post-doctoral Annenberg Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Covering the years 1979 to 2012, Teaching Files is divided into five subseries: A. University of Pennsylvania, B. University of Southern California, C. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, D. Open University of Israel, and E. University of Vienna.
Folders of administrative materials and correspondence, if extant, head each subseries. These folders are followed by courses in alphabetical order by course number and/or name—except in the cases of the subseries A. University of Pennsylvania, and E. University of Vienna. In the former, administrative items are proceeded by Scholars program materials, before continuing in the stated fashion. Concerning the latter, the only extant folder is related to a visiting professorship.
Researchers should note that materials pertaining to the University of Pennsylvania are best represented, although the University of California makes a decent showing. Items relating the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are not plentiful.
The materials in Series VII all pertain to Katz's work as scientific director of the Guttman Institute of Applied Social Research (later absorbed into the Israel Democracy Institute), and especially document his involvement with the Guttman's ongoing survey of Israeli opinion ranging from politics to cultural matters. Included are correspondence; drafts of studies and reports, books, and articles; published reports; and research documents.
This series is made up of nine subseries spanning 1975 to 2004: A. Correspondence, B. Continuing Survey, and C. Studies and Reports, D. Books, E. Book Sections, F. Articles, G. Unpublished, H. Notes and Background Materials, and I. Professional Events.
Each subseries is arranged chronologically by publication or creation date, except for subseries H. Notes and Background Materials, which is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Researchers should be aware that much of the work articulated in the studies found further expression in the books The Jewishness of Israelis: Responses to the Guttman Report, and Negotiating Jerusalem, listed below.
Much pertains to the Continuing Survey
Series VIII contains items relating to Katz's time as head of the nascent Israel Broadcasting Authority, and subsequent interactions from 1967 to 2010.
Researchers should note that much original material—the so called "TV Diary"—expressive of Katz's immediate experiences as head of broadcasting, has been retained by Katz himself. What follows is often secondhand or of peripheral interest. However, the archives does have the majority of the "TV Diary" in facsimile, which can be made available for researchers upon request.
Includes material related to Harvey L. Gotliffe's Dissertation Israeli General Television, 1981
Includes material related to Harvey L. Gotliffe's Dissertation Israeli General Television, 1981
Series IX contains a small amount of biographical and/or personal material made up of correspondence, interviews, CVs, essays and writings, speeches, clippings, photographs, and memorabilia from 1948 to 2014.
The documents in this series are restricted due to either personally identifying information, or preservation concerns. Concerning the latter, facsimiles have been provided in the collection.