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Audpres 1 1

  1. 1. Audiences MS1
  2. 2. What you need to know… How audiences are categorised 2. How audiences are positioned and targeted 3. How different audiences respond to, interpret and use texts 1. In A Level Media Studies you are asked to explore the relationship between the text (e.g. a magazine, a film, a PS3 game, etc) and the audience and to consider the social and cultural experiences that affect audiences’ responses to the text.
  3. 3. Always bear in mind… When considering audiences in the twenty-first century, there are some key points for you to consider: • The relationship between the media text and the audience is fluid and changing • There is no longer assumed to be only one way of interpreting a text and only one audience response • Audiences are not mass and their responses are complex and sophisticated • Audiences are made up of individuals whose social and cultural experiences may alter how they respond to any text.
  4. 4. Audiences can be classified according to: • age •Gender •Occupation •Education •Ethnicity •Lifestyle •Culture •Housing •Class •Interests •sexuality •And so on…
  5. 5. Audience Age Ranges The media tend to segment audiences by age as a way of identifying groups they can target for their ‘products’. This is very generalised but acts as a basic guide. 0 – 11 Childhood: pester power for toys, cereals, etc 11 – 16 Early Adolescence: encourage consumption through peer group and a yearning for maturity 16 – 24 Early Adulthood: Student years. Finding an identity. Anti-authority/ rebellion impulses. Disposable income, autonomy exerted through purchasing. Peer/social group important. 24 – 35 Adulthood: building career, but less responsibility/finding partner /having children/settling into domestic circumstances/mortgage/richer life experiences through travel etc 35 – 45 Early Middle Age: established pattern to domestic and professional circumstances/responsibility domestically and professionally. Beginning of height of earning power but often less disposable income. Emphasis on family ties/groups. 45 – 55 power. Middle Age: professional peak both in responsibility and earning 55+ Late Middle Age: Retirement. Children reach maturity and move on. Emphasis changes from family to couple or divorce. ‘Grey pound’.
  6. 6. Advertisers’ social grades A Upper Middle Higher managerial, professional and administrative 3% of population B Middle Intermediate managerial, professional, Administrative 13.5% of population C1 Lower Middle Supervisory, clerical, junior managerial, professional administrative 22% of population C2 Skilled working class Lower management 32% of population D Working class semi and unskilled 20.5% of population E Lowest level of subsistence State pensioners, casual or lowest grade workers 9% of population
  7. 7. New Socio-economic classifications Used by the UK government since 2001, but not yet taken up by media industries, who continue to prefer the older classification system. (Why do you think that might be?) The new system has eight categories: 1. Higher managerial and professional occupations 2. Lower managerial and professional occupations 3. Intermediate occupations (clerical, sales, service) 4. Small employers and own account workers 5. Lower supervisory and technical occupations 6. Semi-routine occupations 7. Routine occupations 8. Never worked and long-term unemployed
  8. 8. Psychographics VALs (Values, Attitudes and Lifestyles) was developed in the USA in the early 1970’s. The original categorisations were: 1. Belongers 2. Emulators traditionalist, cautious and conforming conservatives; nest builders, stay-at-homers. Susceptible to advertising of pension plans, home insurance, DIY, etc. smaller, more impressionable group, often young. Identity seekers. Lacking in self confidence, confused and Advertisers prey on their insecurities, offering models, heroes and the reassurance of vulnerable. them role group acceptance 3. Emulator-Achievers Materialists, acquisitive consumers; favour designer labels; consumer goods as evidence of accomplishment, success and good taste. 4. Societally-conscious concerned more with personal rather than financial or Achievers professional fulfilment; against conspicuous consumption, the‘green’ market, sceptical of advertising 5.Need-directed Minimum wage earners or those receiving welfare benefits. Mainly concerned to survive rather than consume in the advertisers’ sense. As far as advertisers are concerned, they barely exist.
  9. 9. Other lifestyle categories continue to be ‘identified’ and labelled: Admiration seekers Pleasure seekers Security and stability seekers Anti-authority rebels Joiners Baby boomers Generation X Generation Y Millenials Materialists Experimentalists Greens Pioneers/Early adopters Promoters/Opinion shapers Metro singles …the list is endless… Channel 4 commissioned extensive research into youth markets in 2006, which they described as ‘youth tribes’ focused on categorising the lifestyles of young people aged 16-24. This project is still running. (See and 26 main categories were described which included ‘townies’, ‘trendies’ and ‘indie scenesters’. Youth and ethnicity has also been researched by idtv at
  10. 10. Geodemographics Traditionally, classification by residential area and housing type. ACORN, the best known system, updated its categories in 2001 to take into account changes in society. The new categories consider lifestyles as well as housing and financial status. It has 5 main groups with 56 categories in total. Here’s an example group: Group 3 - Comfortably Off Starting Out 24 - Young couples, flats and terraces 25 - White collar singles/sharers, terraces Secure Families 26 - Younger white-collar couples with mortgages 27 - Middle income, home owning areas 28 - Working families with mortgages 29 - Mature families in suburban semis 30 - Established home owning workers 31 - Home owning Asian family areas Settled Suburbia 32 - Retired home owners 33 - Middle income, older couples 34 - Lower income people, semis Prudent Pensioners 35 - Elderly singles, purpose built flats
  11. 11. The relationship between the audience and the text…
  12. 12. Positioning the Audience Stuart Hall: texts are encoded by the producers of the texts to contain certain meanings (related to the social and cultural background of the creator of that text). However, once the reader of the text decodes that text then the meanings intended by the producer may change. Hall suggests three main perspectives in the way in which an audience responds to a media text. This involves how the audience is positioned by the text and their response: • Preferred or dominant readings: where the audience interprets the text closely to the way in which the producer of the text intended. If the cultural and social experience of the reader is close to that of the producer then there is little for the audience to challenge. • Negotiated readings: where the audience goes through some sort of • Oppositional or resistant readings: where the user of the text finds negotiation with itself to allow it to accept the way in which the text is presented. You may agree with some elements of the text and disagree with others. him/herself in conflict with the text due to their beliefs or experiences. A narrative in a soap opera that views a woman who is having an affair sympathetically will encourage a resistant reading in a person whose culture is against adultery.
  13. 13. How texts construct and position audiences Texts can be said to construct an idea of their viewer/reader. This can be applied to an analysis of magazines where the magazine constructs an idea of ‘Nuts man’ or ‘Cosmopolitan woman’. When considering how an audience is positioned, we should consider: • Use of Language • Mode of address • Representations • Narratives Evidence that magazines construct their audiences can be found in their press packs. For example the Men’s Health press pack reads as follows: ‘Who is the Men’s Health reader? 1. Late 20’s to mid 30’s, predominantly ABC1’s, a performance driven achiever, self confident ,open minded and adventurous 2. Advanced in his career with the benefits of success translating into spending power 3. Older and wealthier than the other major UK men’s lifestyle magazines with an appreciation of quality and an aesthetic eye’
  14. 14. Building on Hall’s theory that readings of media texts are mostly negotiated, we need to consider… What affects the way in which an audience or user responds to a text? • Cultural competence: different audience groups decode media texts in different ways because of social variables including gender, age, sexuality, class and ethnicity. This helps to explain varying audience preferences and pleasures. For example, women and men respond differently to texts. • Situated culture: how the audience ‘situation’ can affect how it responds • Cultural experience: how a culture, upbringing and experiences of the to different texts e.g. where the user is and who they are with. Are you watching a film in a cinema with friends or on peak time TV with your family? audience affect its response to a text. It also includes how the understanding of the world is shaped by media experience. For example, knowledge of other countries, hospital procedures and police business does not always come from direct experience but from exposure to a range of media texts.
  15. 15. Text producers are also aware that an audience may be either: Primary – the audience targeted by the text’s producers. E.g. the primary audience of Cosmopolitan magazine is young women aged between 18 and 30 Secondary/alternative – the audience who may ‘come across’ a text accidentally. E.g. the boyfriends, younger sisters or mothers of the Cosmopolitan reader. Or the bored elderly man with nothing else to read in his dentist’s waiting room. Clearly each audience will ‘read’ Cosmopolitan differently! Their interpretation of the text is mediated through their gender, age, culture, life experiences, values, etc.
  16. 16. Some more theory…
  17. 17. The Hypodermic Needle Model This theory suggests that: 1. information from a text passes into the mass consciousness of the audience unmediated, i.e. the experience, intelligence and opinion of an individual are not relevant to the reception of the text. 2. the audience is manipulated by the creators of media texts, and that their behaviour and thinking might be easily changed by media-makers. 3. the audience are passive and heterogeneous. This theory is still quoted during moral panics by parents, politicians and pressure groups, and is used to explain why certain (‘vulnerable’) groups in society should not be exposed to certain media texts (comics in the 1950s, rap music in the 1990s), for fear that they will watch or read or hear about sexual or violent behaviours and will then act them out themselves (look at media coverage of the Winnenden shootings. As much emphasis was placed on Tim Kretschner’s library of horror movies as on the huge collection of weaponry held by his father, who had also taught Tim to shoot). Can you think of other examples where a medium has been claimed to have this effect on its audience?
  18. 18. The Two-Step Flow Theory (Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet) 1. Information does not flow directly from the media text into the minds of its audience unmediated but is filtered through "opinion leaders”. 2. These opinion leaders then communicate it to their less active associates, over whom they have influence. 3. The audience then mediate the information received directly from the media with the ideas and thoughts expressed by the opinion leaders, thus being influenced not by a direct process, but by a two step flow. 4. The power of the media is diminished as social factors are also important in the way in which audiences interpret texts. Media producers seeking to promote their text will attempt to influence opinion formers/shapers within their targeted market, whom they hope will in turn influence a wider audience/market. (look at C4’s Youth Tribes and viral marketing campaigns on YouTube)
  19. 19. Uses & Gratifications In this theory, far from being a passive mass, audiences are made up of individuals who actively consumed texts for different reasons and in different ways. Blulmer and Katz expanded this theory and published their own in 1974, stating that individuals might choose and use a text for the following purposes (i.e. uses and gratifications): • Diversion - escape from everyday problems and routine. • Personal Relationships - using the media for emotional and other interaction, e.g. substituting soap operas for family life • Personal Identity - finding yourself reflected in texts, learning behaviour and values from texts • Surveillance - Information which could be useful for living e.g. weather reports, financial news, holiday bargains… This theory can be viewed as simplistic as audiences have become more diverse and complex and media formats have become more fluid and changing. It may be that the audience has needs not addressed by existing media texts. When considering today’s media audiences, what use or gratification might you add to this list?
  20. 20. From the Active to the Interactive Audience New technologies such as computer games and the internet, have seen audiences become interactive users of the media who are active in their choices. In Media Gender and Identity (2002), David Gauntlett describes a ‘pick and mix’ audience who uses texts, ignoring some aspects of them and choosing the aspects that suit it at that time. Now that we can access any TV programmes on-demand at any time of the day or week, we create our own viewing schedules. Do we still sit down as a family at peak time on a Monday evening to watch EastEnders followed by Panorama? Much has been made of the rise of ‘we media’. The audience no longer just receives and interprets media texts, but actively creates their own texts in their own homes, using digital technologies, and distributes their products through social networking sites (MySpace, Twitter, etc) Media texts such as music tracks, video adverts, etc, are easily downloaded and ‘mashed up’ to create a new text the user can then share with her/his friends. The power of the social networker to bring something to mass attention has not gone unnoticed. Viral advertising tries to exploit the boom in social communication by creating ads we want to share with friends.
  21. 21. …But who’s really in control? Interactivity, active choices, creativity…sounds wonderful. But how much control does the audience really have over what they access, create and upload? Facebook recently updated their terms of service to say that anything you uploaded could be used by Facebook in any way they deemed fit, they could even sub-license your content if they wish! This outraged many users forcing Facebook to revert back to the original terms of service temporarily. So who’s behind many of our favourite online sites? is owned by News Corp (Fox TV, Twentieth Century Fox, The Sun, The Times…) is owned by Time Warner AOL (Publishing, film, TV, and online services) (social networking site aimed at under 8s) is owned by Disney (one of the largest international media companies) is owned by Vivendi (major European media corporation) These huge multinational corporations share details to enable marketers to create profiles of users and target them with their products (think about the recommendations you get from Amazon or iTunes!). Our media use is being monitored more closely than ever before (look at uk govt plans for networks).
  22. 22. Marxism A Marxist perspective of the media would consider how much of what we read and do is not just monitored, but closely controlled (see materials on ideology and false consciousness). Put simply, the view of Marxist critics is that the media are controlled by those in power, politically and economically (governments and international businesses), and are used either to 1. distract us from what’s really going on (think about metaphors of media as drugs ‘television the drug of a nation…’, etc) or 2. persuade us to accept the imbalance of political and economic power as ‘right’ or ‘natural’, thus maintaining the status quo and keeping us, the ordinary people in our place! This state of distraction or persuasion is called ‘false consciousness’.
  23. 23. For example, we could say that women have been lulled into a state of ‘false consciousness’ because society (dominant ideology), through the representation of women on TV, in films and in magazines, encourages women to conform to stereotypes about how they should look and behave. Some critics have called this the ‘cult of femininity’, as it suggests there is a very narrowly defined ‘ideal’ of what femininity is. The same arguments could be applied to masculinity, the acceptable lifestyle we lead, etc. Dove Photoshop exercise, Renee Zellwegger Hello article on her weight loss, the size zero ‘debate’
  24. 24. What do you think? •Is the Marxist view of the media valid? •Do you favour the view of the active, creative, audience? •What about the other theories of the hypodermic needle, two step flow and uses and gratifications?