AUDIENCE THEORYBy Banita Sharma and Sophie Muspratt
STARTERFIND YOUR PAIR
FIND YOUR PAIR Effects ModelsHypodermic Needle TheoryUses and Gratification Theory Two-Step Flow Theory Reception Theory Audience Theory
WHAT IS AN AUDIENCE THEORY?o It is virtually impossible these days to go through a day withoutencountering the media in some form. We are all therefore apart of theaudience for these different kinds of media products.o Over the course of the past century or so, media analysts have developedseveral “effects models”, which are explanations of how humans ingest theinformation transmitted by media texts and how this might influence (or not)their behaviour.o Some people see media audiences as being easily manipulated masses ofpeople There have also been fears that the contents of media texts can maketheir audiences behave in different ways. On the other hand there have beenother critics who have seen the media as having much less influence andworking in more subtle ways.
THE HYPODERMIC NEEDLE THEORY o Dating from the 1920s and being one of the most simple theorys to understand the hypodermic needle theory was the first attempt to explain how mass audiences might react to mass media. According to the theory the media is like a syringe which injects ideas, attitudes and beliefs into the audience who as a powerless mass have little choice but to be influencedo But remember that this theory was developed in an age when the mass media were still fairly new - radio and cinema were less than two decades old. Governments had just discovered the power of advertising to communicate a message, and produced propaganda to try and sway people to their way of thinking.o So this theory suggests that, as an audience, we are manipulated by the creators of media texts, and that our behaviour and thinking might be easily changed by media-makers. It assumes that the audience are passive and heterogenous. It is used to explain why certain groups in society shouldnot be exposed to certain media texts for fear that they will watch or read sexual or violent behaviour and will then act them out themselves .
EVIDENCE FOR THE HYPODERMIC NEEDLE THEORY o The Frankfurt School, a group of German Marxists, who in the 1930s witnessed first hand how Hitler used propaganda to influence a nation.oThe Bobo Doll experiment This is a very controversial piece of research that apparently proved that children copy violent behaviour. ohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHHdovKHDNU
USES AND GRATIFICATION THEORY o According to uses and gratification theory, we all have different uses for the media and we make choices over what we want to watch. oIn this model the individual has the power and they are able to select the media texts that best suits their needs and their attempts to satisfy those needs. The psychological basis for this model is the Hierarchy of Needs identified by Maslow. oThe theory suggests that we as an audience may use the media for the four following purposes:oDiversion – Escaping from everyday problems and routine. What do you think Morality, Self would go underoPersonal Relationships – Using the media for emotional Actualization Creativity, each title ofand other interaction (substituting soap operas for family Problem Solving, Maslow’s Hierarchy Lack of Prejudice, of needs? Selflife. Acceptance of Facts. EsteemoPersonal Identity – Finding yourself reflected in Esteem, Confidence, Achievement, Respect ofSocial Needs Others, Respect by Others.the media, learning behaviour and values. Friendship, Family, Sexual Intimacy, Love,oSurveillance – Information which could Belonging. Safety Needsbe useful for living (weather reports, Safety of Self, Security of Employment, Security of Morality, Security of your Family, Security of your Health, Security of yourfinancial news, holiday bargains) Property. Physical Needs Breathing, Food, Water, Sex, Sleep.
TWO-STEP FLOW THEORY oThe two-step flow hypothesis was first introduced by Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet in a paper called The Peoples Choice, a 1944 study focused on the process of decision-making during a Presidential election campaign. oThey were surprised to discover that informal, personal contacts were mentioned far more frequently than exposure to radio or newspaper as sources of influence on voting behaviour. oThis theory asserts that information from the media moves in two distinct stages. First, individuals (opinion leaders) who pay close attention to the mass media and its messages receive the information. Opinion leaders then create their own interpretations of the media content from their reaction to the message. Second, opinion leaders influence or change the attitudes and behaviours of individuals that they have social contact with who take in their opinions and attitudes.
RECEPTION THEORY oThe reception theory was developed by the academic Stuart Hall at Birmingham University inthe 1970s. This considered how texts were encoded with meaning by producers and then decoded by audiences. oThe 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 willcorrectly decode the message or meaning and understand what the producer was trying to say, in other instances the audience will either reject or fail to correctly understand the messageoStuart Hall identified three types of audience readings of the media: Dominant, Negotiated and Oppositional. oDominant - 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 oNegotiated - 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 disinterestedoOppositional - 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
EXAMPLES OF ENCODED TEXTS/SUBLIMINAL MESSAGEShttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YI_dqSO30Mghttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73fCLx-mFLg