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The passive VS active audience debate How do audiences read media texts?
What we will be exploring… How do we decode media texts? (The ideologies within them?) Why do we respond in certain ways? Do we believe everything we are told? Do media texts effect the audience and society?
The Passive Audience Idea Effects theory was developed in the 1920’s, and looks at how media texts influence those who consume them, particularly (in recent decades) how negative messages, i.e. sexual and violent content, can affect the most vulnerable of audience groups. It reflected the dominant views in society about the media and the audience – reflecting a middle class fear of the masses (working class.) Fears of the potential effect this would have on public order and status quo in society. Many of these ideas came from the philosophers school The Frankfurt School from theorists - Max Horkheimer , Theodor Adorno , Walter Benjamin and Herbert Marcuse.
The ‘Hypodermic Needle’ Effect(or ‘Silver Bullet’ approach) This theory states that the audience takes in and believes the ideologies in all media texts. where the audience is seen as passive –“empty vessels” who play no role in interacting with the media texts concerned. The theory states that these texts function in a one-directional communication process – the audience does not think or disagree with the messages and values within the media text.
Problems With the Effects Theories In recent decades theorists have noted many problems with Effects theory . Many feel it is out of date and that it vastly underestimates the audiences, this has led to the development of more complex theories about active audience participation in the reading of media texts.
The Encoding – Decoding Model: Active Audience Theory (1980) Encoding-Decoding is an active audience theory developed by Stuart Hall which examines the relationship between a text and its audience. Encoding is the process by which a text is constructed by its producers. Decoding is the process by which the audience reads, understands and interprets a text.
The Encoding – Decoding Model The audience DECODE the Messages – an active process – they think! The Media ENCODEideologies intothe media texts
Hall’s Encoding – Decoding model Hall states that texts are polysemic, meaning they may be read differently by different people, depending on their identity, cultural knowledge and opinions.
The encoding –decoding model You will be shown couple of scenes from the popular TV series – and now movie – ‘The Simpsons’. When watching the clips, think about the elements of the show that make it successful in targeting both young and old audiences, especially its humour. For example, a 45 year old man and a 10 year old girl would sit down to watch exactly the same episode and yet receive it entirely differently – why? Spiderpig- Simpson’s the Movie Teaser The Simpsons – Marge’s Dream
Hall’s Reception Theory Reception theory focuses on the role of the audience in the interpretation of a text, instead of on the text itself. In other words, the theory suggests that audiences play an active role in reading texts, that each person has the ability to interpret the same text differently, and that a text by itself – i.e. without a reader – has no specific meaning.
Hall’s Reception Theory He termed these different ‘readings’ of the ideologies in media texts as… The preferred reading The negotiated reading The oppositional reading Stuart Hall
Stuart Hall’sReception Theory This clip of a BBC news feature discusses the case of a teenage homosexual from Iran, seeking asylum in the UK based on claims that he would be murdered if he returned home due to the country’s homophobic attitudes and laws. When watching the clip, think about the audience theory of Encoding-Decoding – What would the preferred, negotiated and oppositional readings of this story be, taking into consideration the way the BBC present the story – i.e. the preferred reading – and what types of audience groups would take each particular reading? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRIPGhRtB28
Consider the following audience groups when thinking about your answer: Homosexual people. Those classed as homophobic. The British caucasian population. Iranian people living in the UK. British Catholics. The British Muslim population. British Atheists.
Spectator , Audience, Response(Patrick Philips 2000) See pack.
The Uses and Gratifications TheoryBlumler, McQuail and Brown (1983) Task in pack
Two-step Flow Theory(Katz and Lazarsfield 1955) See pack
The Pick n Mix Approach to Audience (David Gauntlett) This is the idea that we pick and mix our media ( an active choice)… We select how we form our identities using media texts. E.g. Magazines allow readers to check is this ok? It means that there was no harm in making a gender specific statement in magazines- readers are given more credit than to just accept this idea= A pick and mix reader He claims that we can not assume that people are simply influenced by media texts.