Different audiences can understand a mediamessage but can have different responses to it.Some people believe and accept themessage, others reject it using knowledge fromtheir own experience or can use processes of logicor other rationales to criticise what is being said. Miller and Philo, 2001
MOST AUDIENCE THEORY FOCUSES ON TWO QUESTIONS.. How powerful are the media in influencing the ideas and behaviour of the audience? And… How does the media shape an audience’s perception of the world? Audience theories suggest that representations are open to different interpretations and that their meanings are not fixed.
CONSUMPTION OF MEDIAThere are different ways of consuming mediatexts…Primary media(texts demand close and concentrated attentionfrom audience, eg. Films in cinemas)Secondary media(texts provide a background for an audience whoare often doing something else at the same timeand are distracted, eg. Radio and some TVprogrammes)
Audience Theory There are three theories of audience that we can apply to help us come to a better understanding about the relationship between texts and audience.1.The Effects Model or the Hypodermic Model2.The Uses and Gratifications Model3.Reception Theory
The Effects ModelThe Effects Model The consumption of media texts has an effect or influence upon the audience It is normally considered that this effect is negative Audiences are passive and powerless to prevent the influence The power lies with the message of the text
The Effects Model This model is also called:The Hypodermic Model Here, the messages in media texts are injected into the audience by the powerful, syringe- like, media The audience is powerless to resist Therefore, the media works like a drug and the audience is drugged, addicted, doped or duped.
The Effects Model Key evidence for the Effects Model1. The Frankfurt School theorised in the 1920s and 30s that the mass media acted to restrict and control audiences to the benefit of corporate capitalism and governments2. The Bobo Doll experiment This is a very controversial piece of research that apparently proved that children copy violent behaviour
The Effects ModelThe Bobo Doll Experiment This was conducted in 1961 by Albert Bandura
The Effects Model In the experiment: Children watched a video where an adult violently attacked a clown toy called a Bobo Doll The children were then taken to a room with attractive toys that they were not permitted to touch The children were then led to another room with Bobo Dolls 88% of the children imitated the violent behaviour that they had earlier viewed. 8 months later 40% of the children reproduced the same violent behaviour
The Effects Model The conclusion reached was that children will imitate violent media content There are many problems with the experiment. What do you think are the flaws with the methodology? Does it indeed prove that children imitate violent media content?
The Effects Model The Effects Model (backed up by the Bobo Doll experiment) is still the dominant theory used by politicians, some parts of the media and some religious organisations in attributing violence to the consumption of media texts.
The Effects Model Key examples sited as causing or being contributory factors are: The film Child’s Play 3 in the murder of James Bulger in 1993 The game Manhunt in the murder of Stefan Pakeerah in 2004 by his friend Warren LeBlanc The film A Clockwork Orange (1971) in a number of rapes and violent attacks
The Effects Model In each case there was a media and political outcry for the texts to be banned In some cases laws were changed, films banned, and newspapers demanded the burning of films Subsequently, in each case it was found that no case could be proven to demonstrate a link between the text and the violent acts
The Effects Model The Effects Model contributes to Moral Panics whereby: The media represent inactivity, make us into students who won’t pass their exams or ‘couch potatoes’ who make no effort to get a job The media produces violent ‘copycat’ behaviour or mindless shopping in response to advertisements
The Uses and Gratifications Model It is still unclear that there is any link between the consumption of violent media texts and violent imitative behaviour It is also clear the theory is flawed in that many people do watch violent texts and appear not to be influenced Therefore a new theory is necessary This is called the: Uses and Gratifications Model
The Uses and Gratifications Model The Uses and Gratifications Model is the opposite of the Effects Model The audience is active The audience uses the text & is NOT used by it The audience uses the text for its own gratification or pleasure
The Uses and Gratifications Model Here, power lies with the audience NOT the producers This theory emphasises what audiences do with media texts – how and why they use them Far from being duped by the media , the audience is free to reject, use or play with media meanings as they see fit
The Uses and Gratifications Model Audiences therefore use media texts to gratify needs for: Diversion Escapism Information Pleasure Comparing relationships and lifestyles with one’s own Sexual stimulation
The Uses and Gratifications Model The audience is in control and consumption of the media helps people with issues such as: Learning Emotional satisfaction Relaxation Help with issues of personal identity Help with issues of social identity Help with issues of aggression and violence
The Uses and Gratifications Model Controversially the theory suggests the consumption of violent images can be helpful rather than harmful The theory suggests that audiences act out their violent impulses through the consumption of media violence The audience’s inclination towards violence is therefore sublimated, and they are less likely to commit violent acts
Reception Theory Given that the Effects model and the Uses and Gratifications have their problems and limitations a different approach to audiences was developed by the academic Stuart Hall at Birmingham University in the 1970s This considered how texts were encoded with meaning by producers and then decoded (understood) by audiences
Reception Theory The theory suggests that: When a producer constructs a text it is encoded with a meaning or message that the producer wishes to convey to the audience In some instances audiences will correctly decode the message or meaning and understand what the producer was trying to say In some instances the audience will either reject or fail to correctly understand the message
Reception Theory Stuart Hall identified three types of audience readings (or decoding) of the text:1. Dominant or preferred2. Negotiated3. Oppositional
Reception Theory1. Dominant Where the audience decodes the message as the producer wants them to do and broadly agrees with it E.g. Watching a political speech and agreeing with it
Reception Theory2. Negotiated Where the audience accepts, rejects or refines elements of the text in light of previously held views E.g. Neither agreeing or disagreeing with the political speech or being disinterested
Reception Theory3. Oppositional Where the dominant meaning is recognised but rejected for cultural, political or ideological reasons E.g. Total rejection of the political speech and active opposition
Reception Theory Audience Decodes Meaning/Message Dominant or preferredProducerEncodes NegotiatedMeaning Oppositional
If every media text is open to interpretation, what happens to the idea of “absolute truth”? Can “truth” be constructed by the audience?