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Media StudiesTheory: Audience

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  • 1. Media Theory 1. Audience a. Audience Understanding b. Audience Classification c. Audiences and Media d. Passive vs Active Audiences e. Passive Audience: Influence f. Passive Audiences: Influence over time g. Active Audiences: Expectations h. Active Audiences: What they get from Media i. Active Audience: Interpretation j. Audience as Product By K.McCabe Updated 2014
  • 2. 1. Audience Always question who are the audience and what’s in it for them? K McCabe 2014 What do the audiences expect from the media text they are engaging with? From a young age we organise, classify, or predict what we ‘read’. When we ‘read’, we activate this ‘ schema’ or pre-existing knowledge. It acts like an iceberg and shapes our understanding. The top of the iceberg is what we see/read, the underneath is the knowledge we bring to it – our understanding, our beliefs and expectations
  • 3. Audience Classification Mass Audience = products created for broad appeal Niche Audience Niche Audience = a small audience targeted to consume a specialist media product. Source: Wikipedia BARB, RAJAR and NRS count audience figures K McCabe 2014
  • 4. Audiences and Media Alternative Culture Elite Culture Mass & Popular Culture Niche Culture K McCabe 2014 Marginalised Cultures
  • 5. Passive vs Active Audiences Passive Audience Passive Audience theories include the Hypodermic needle theory which Hypodermic Needle suggests that Audiences passively absorb and consume Media – we accept the messages shown to us. Hypodermic needle is now thought to be outdated as research shows that audiences engage and create meaning for themselves K McCabe 2014 Active Audience ActiveAudience theories include the Uses & Gratifications theory which Uses & Gratifications suggests that Audiences actively absorb and consume Media – we use media texts for own purposes. A criticism of U&G is that we don’t always know why we are using or consuming media, and that other factors like money may influence the media we consume (eg. access to pay/subscription services)
  • 6. Passive Audiences: Influences? K McCabe 2014
  • 7. Passive Audiences: Influence over time This is the Gerbner’s conclusion that the influence of media on audiences causes them to believe that the world is a ‘mean and scary place’. Violence in film, bad events in News, shocking TV all contribute to this belief – but are created for increased profit and consumption K McCabe 2014 Which of these theories could be challenged? How?
  • 8. Active Audience : Expectations V Audiences approach texts with Expectations – When we sit down to watch a Romantic Comedy, we expect to act a certain way (laugh, feel happy, get involved with characters) . Audience Expectations and whether they are met (or challenged) is very important in analysing how Audiences might respond to Texts. Audience Expectations and whether they are met (or challenged) is very important in analysing how Audiences might respond to Texts. Audience expectations are made up of expectations of… Medium As Audiences we have become sophisticated in understanding the limitations and strengths of each medium – we expect interactivity from New Digital Media and one-way messaging in printed media. K McCabe 2014 Text Type The Type of text shapes the way Audience responds to a texts. For example, an Audience expects particular codes etc from A Public Information Film compared to what they expect from a Advert or a Horror. Subject matter Institution Audiences expect different subjects to be treated in particular ways. For example, Illness to be treated with respect. This can then be conformed to or challenged for dramatic impact Audiences expect BBC1 to provide mainstream, non-confrontational programming, whereas they would expect controversy and diversity with CH4
  • 9. Active Audiences: What can they get from media? Broadly, these reasons are: 1. Information finding out about events, satisfying curiosity, gaining a sense of security through knowledge 2. Personal Identity reinforcement for personal values, finding models of behaviour, insight into one's self 3. Social Interaction & Intergration insight into circumstances of others; social empathy, identifying with others and gaining a sense of belonging, interaction, enabling one to connect with family, friends and society 4 Entertainment escaping, diversion from problems, relaxing, getting enjoyment, filling time, emotional release K McCabe 2014
  • 10. Active Audience: Interpretation Audiences read texts. Stuart Hall’s Reception Theory states Reception Theory that texts are encoded for a specific and preferredReading Preferred reading. If the construction of meaning needs the audience, it is now believed that, at best audiences 'negotiate' Readings ‘Negotiate’ reading as they modify, select and discard parts of the text based upon personal experiences etc. Oppositional or subversive Oppositionalor Subversive readings occasionally happen when the audience read a text is a way unintended and unexpected by the text Polysemic Texts producers. Polysemic texts are open to multiple readings. K McCabe 2014
  • 11. Audience as Product Through media texts, Audiences are delivered to producers as potential consumers for their products. The ‘price’ that the audience has to pay for viewing their favourite programme is exposure to continual, subtle and invasive advertising Some Audiences are more valuable than others – eg the Audience of X Factor compared to the Audience of a niche TV programme. Through Social Media, Audiences are not only delivered but they act as the vehicle – sharing, commenting on texts for other audiences Find examples of audiences being subjected to advertising in subtle and invasive ways.