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  1. 1. G235: Critical Perspectives in Media Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1b) Audience
  2. 2. Aims/Objectives ‡ To reinforce basic audience theory. ‡ To have a basic understanding of how to evaluate your coursework against a consideration of your target audience.
  3. 3. Audiences ‡ Julian McDougall (2009) suggests that in the online age it is getting harder to conceive a media audience as a stable, identifiable group. ‡ However audiences still clearly make sense and give meaning to cultural products. ‡ An audience can be described as a temporary collective (McQuail, 1972). ‡ Key terms: Mass / Niche & Mainstream / Alternative
  4. 4. Is your text popular for a mass audience? ‡ Historically (until the 19th century, at any rate) the term 'popular' was quite a negative thing, with overtones of vulgarity and triviality. Something not 'nice' or 'respectable'. In the modern world, the term means 'widespread', liked or at least encountered by many people. It has also come to mean 'mass-produced', i.e. made for the 'mass' of people. There is a downside to this, of course, in that it can also be interpreted as 'commercial' or 'trashy'.
  5. 5. ‡ This leads into a further consideration, which is the definition of 'popular culture' as 'low' culture, something not for the elite, but for the 'common' people. Cultural value ('high' culture) has been traditionally associated with dominant or powerful groups - those who have appreciation of classical music, art, ballet, opera and so on. 'Low' or popular culture is everything not approved of as 'high'. It is vulgar, common, or 'easy . It is postmodern.
  6. 6. ‡ Another definition of 'popular' is literally 'of the people', a kind of 'folk' culture and this is an interesting area, because it encompasses the idea of an 'alternative' culture which includes minority groups, perhaps with subversive values. The 'indie' music scene is an example of this. So 'popular' culture can and sometimes does, challenge the 'dominant' cultural power groups.
  7. 7. ‡ What should be done in terms of your coursework is three things: 1. You must detail the target audience for your product. 2. Detail what the audience might identify with in your product (could link to the construction of identity?) 3. What meanings/uses they might make from consuming/interacting with the product.
  8. 8. Ien Ang (1991) detailed that media producers have an imaginary entity in mind before the construction of a media product. Audiences only exist as an imaginary entity, an abstraction, constructed from the vantage point of the institution, in the interest of the institution .
  9. 9. Ang (1991) states that 'audiencehood is becoming an ever more multifaceted, fragmented and diversified repertoire of practices and experiences'. You must detail the social demographic of this target audience (gender, age, ethnicity, social class).
  10. 10. John Hartley (1987) institutions are obliged not only to speak about an audience, but crucially, for them to talk to one as well; they need not only to represent audiences but to enter into relation with them
  11. 11. Hartley (1987) also suggests that institutions must produce invisible fictions of the audience which allow the institutions to get a sense of who they must enter into relations with . e.g. they must know their audience so they can target them effectively.
  12. 12. For your magazine work, for example, you used information from the National Readership Survey (NRS) in order to help detail the demographic for your audience (most consumer magazines have a target readership of ABC1) In terms of your music videos you must relate this back to sub-cultures (Sarah Thornton, 1995).
  13. 13. Gaining Feedback from your Audience ‡ You attempted to gain feedback from your target market in order to get their opinions, ‡ You used the blogs, forums etc in order to share ideas and images. ‡ You also conducted polls to tailor the product better for your audience. ‡ Write down how you did this.
  14. 14. Audience Reception Theories: Passive and Active Audiences There are basically two different schools of thought concerning how audiences consume media texts, those that believe that audiences are passive and those who believe that audiences are active . Passive Audience Theory The idea that the media injects ideas and views directly into the brains of the audience like a hypodermic needle, therefore, controlling the way that people think and behave.
  15. 15. The Frankfurt School s Hypodermic Theory (1930s) This Marxist theory, which was championed by theorists such as Theodore Adorno, assumes a direct stimulus-response relationship between audience reactions and the consumption of media texts.
  16. 16. Criticisms Of Hypodermic Theory ‡ Doesn t allow for resistance or rejection of media messages. ‡ Elitist. ‡ Simplistic.
  17. 17. ‡ Passive audience/hypodermic theory are sometimes referred to overall as Media Effects Theory , i.e. the media has a direct and powerful effect on its audience. for your coursework this can relate directly to music videos debate at the moment concerned with rap/gangster videos, Marylin Manson etc, computer gaming.
  18. 18. ‡ Moral Panics And Folk Devils ‡ Stanley Cohen in his book Folk Devils And Moral Panics (1972) defines a Moral Panic as: ‡ a mass response to a group, a person or an attitude that becomes defined as a threat to society. ‡ Cohen argues that the media, especially news media, often create and/or reinforce moral panics in the public. ‡ The term Folk Devil is the name given to the object of the moral panic, i.e. it is another name for a scapegoat.
  19. 19. Pluralist Model and the Active Audience Theory ‡ This is the idea that the audience have an active role to play in the understanding of, and creation, of meaning within a media text. ‡ Predictably enough, the pluralist idea is the exact opposite of a hegemonic one. A pluralist model argues that there is diversity in society (everyone is different) and therefore there is also choice (we can choose what to believe and what not to believe.)
  20. 20. ‡ So in media terms, because the audience (society) is diverse, with different points of view, the media is influenced by society. ‡ Because the media need to please the audience they will try to reflect the values and beliefs that are predominant in society. ‡In other words, they give us what we say we want rather than telling us what to think and believe, in order to make us stay in our place .
  21. 21. McQuail s Uses And Gratifications Theory Dennis McQuail (1972) 1. Diversion/Escapism 2. Personal Relationship: A talking point 3. Personal Identity: identifying with the representations on display 4. Surveillance: Information
  22. 22. ‡ Parkin s/Hall s Audience Readings Theory ‡ Frank Parkin (1972) and later Stuart Hall (1980) analysed the readings within audiences as either: ‡ 1.Dominant or Preferred Reading: The meaning they want you to have is usually accepted. ‡ 2.Negotiated Reading: The dominant reading is only partially recognised or accepted and audiences might disagree with some of it or find their own meanings. ‡ 3.Oppositional Reading: The dominant reading is refused, rejected because the reader disagrees with it or is offended by it, especially for political, religious, feminist, reasons etc.
  23. 23. ‡ You must think about the meanings behind the text and how you encoded and they decoded (Hall, 1980) according to their situated culture (personal, small scale communications and interactions we have on a day to day basis).
  24. 24. Essay Media texts will never be successful unless they are carefully constructed to target pre- established audience needs or desires . Evaluate the ways that you constructed a media text to target a specific audience.