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Uses and gratifications

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  • 1. EXTRA SLIDES Audience Theories USES AND GRATIFICATIONS (ANTI-THESIS TO TRADITIONAL EFFECTS APPROACH) Considers how media fulfil the needs and gratifications of their users.
  • 2. Assumption:
    • Audiences are not passive – they use media, not vice-versa.
    • Audience requirements considered a major intervening factor in the study of media effects.
    • U and G theory  significant influence on theories of consumerism (we’ll look at this)
  • 3. 7 Main areas of study
    • One way to understand what is being studied is to split up the next sentence as follows:
    • Social and Psychological origins of…
    • … needs, which generate...
    • … expectations of …
    • … the mass media or other sources, which lead to …
    • … different patterns of media exposure, resulting in…
    • … needs gratifications and …
    • … other unintended consequences.
    • (Katz et al., 1974)
  • 4. In other words …
    • Audiences go looking for certain types of media messages in order to fulfil existing needs.
    • The need precedes the effect (so media effects are bound to be beneficial rather than malign if you agree with this approach)
    • Media use is goal-oriented => Active audience seeking out needs gratifications.
    • Does not assume that the media is the only sources of needs satisfaction – there are other sources, eg. music…)
    • Study testing out these ideas: Blumer and Katz, 1974
  • 5.
    • Information
    • - finding out about relevant events and conditions in immediate surroundings, society and the world
    • seeking advice on practical matters or opinion and decision choices
    • - satisfying curiosity and general interest
    • - learning; self-education
    • - gaining a sense of security through knowledge
    • Personal Identity
    • - finding reinforcement for personal values - finding models of behaviour - identifying with valued other (in the media) - gaining insight into one's self
    • Integration and Social Interaction
    • - gaining insight into circumstances of others; social empathy - identifying with others and gaining a sense of belonging - finding a basis for conversation and social interaction - having a substitute for real-life companionship - helping to carry out social roles - enabling one to connect with family, friends and society
    • Entertainment
    • escaping, or being diverted, from problems - relaxing - getting intrinsic cultural or aesthetic enjoyment - filling time - emotional release
    • sexual arousal
    Some uses and gratifications
  • 6. Criticism:
    • Accused of being at the opposite extreme of the behaviourism spectrum, even by theorists who have adopted some of its ideas / assumptions.
    • criticized for pre-supposing that media can satisfy needs rather than considering the possibility that media use may elude (not solve/ evade) gratifications
    • For some, this theory simply smacks of a mere defence of the media operators’ oldest argument:
      • “ We only give the people what they want” (Carey and Kreiling, 1974)
    • Questions about how we explain what constitutes “needs” of human beings. Are they common to everyone? Unique to individuals?
    • Is it still possible in our media-saturated world to suggest that people’s needs emerge prior to media use and are not shaped in any way at the point of use? (ie media agendas may at least affect public agendas in some measure)
  • 7. Find out more…
    • Straight forward webpage:
    • http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/short/usegrat.html#D
    • Should help!

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