In this chapter we do not attempt to chart systematically all the different approaches to the study of the mass media, each set in their different intellectual, social and historical contexts. Instead we have chosen to examine selectively the way in which different researchers have perceived the power of the mass media and to point to the different theoretical conceptions and empirical enquiries that have informed some of those perceptions. In particular, we have focused on the clashes and common ground between different accounts of the power of the media in three areas; in the distinctions between liberal-pluralist and Marxist approaches, often conceived of in terms of a distinction between empiricism and theory; in different approaches to the analysis of media institutions and finally in the different accounts of media power located in contemporary Marxist studies of the media.