Audience theory task 3

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Audience theory task 3

  1. 1. Critical responses Task 3 - Audience theory Patrick Gouldsbrough
  2. 2. Hypodermic needle model This is a theory directly correlated to audiences. It survives on the idea that media messages are directly taken in and accepted by a consumer. This then implies that mass media has a strong, direct and sudden effect on the consumer of a certain product, which in turn will mean an audience will accept whatever it’s been told by a media product. This theory links directly to the idea of a passive audience consuming the products made by a media producer, a passive audience that doesn’t apply their own knowledge to a media product, so instead rely on the media products for it’s thinking and ideas. The hypodermic needle model concerns grew even greater when the development of radio and Television evolved to become a media type that was more accessible. However, this theory has been highly disregarded by theorists, while other more complex theories have been conducted. These other theories consider the consumers ability to make their own judgments based on their own experiences of media and social situations. The hypodermic needle effect came around in the 1930’s, which was then disproved by theorist Paul Lazarsfeld, who showed reactions to a broadcast are determined by situational and attitudinal attributes, instead of all the consumers been passive. The theory states that magazine such as these, with opinions generated by the media producer on the front, is contributing to shaping the passive audiences values and ideas. The fact that these two statements are not followed with question marks tells the audience they are not been asked about a product, they are more or less been told what to think about them by these particular products.
  3. 3. Uses and gratifications theory This theories main purpose is to identify why people consume various kinds of media and what gratifications they receive from this? Another key question that is analysed in this particular theory is how consumers spend their time and energy finding media? Unlike the hypodermic needle theory, which believes the consumer is passive, uses and gratification theory assumes the consumer take up an active role in integrating media into their lives in some shape or form. One theorist who can be pinpointed to have helped discovered this particular theory is social scientist Herta Herzog. The Austrian born scientist in 1940 identified the main outline of the use and gratifications theory by analysing radio programmes. Use and gratifications has then been worked on by many theorists since then, these include: Lasswell, Katz, Bulmer and, most recently, McQuail. From their research, each of these theorists published a list of explanations about why people use and consume media. Where as a passive audience that was featured in the hypodermic needle theory would see the above example as a statement and brand it as a question that’ll be answered, active audiences in uses and gratifications theory will look at this question and think about it and be an active part of the media, while generating their own views and opinions about the cover and articles.
  4. 4. Uses and gratifications theory Lasswell (1948) •Surveillance •Correlation •Entertainment •Cultural transmission Blumler and Katz (1972) • Diversion • Personal relationships • Personal identity • Surveillance McQuail (1987) • Information • Personal identity • Integration and social interaction • Entertainment Some of these explanations are proved correct later on, thus featured in other theorists research in the future work of uses and gratifications. However, Lasswell and Herzog’s research had a few flaws, which were removed by Mcquail and Blumler + Katz research. From Lasswells research, only one main explanation survived, surveillance. However, Lasswells theories weren’t disproved, Blumler and Katz decide to not analyse the same sections that have already done, with Surveillance been an exception. Only a gap of one year separates McQuail and Blumler + Katz theories. Only personal identity stands from the 1972 theory, however, like the 1972 analysis, he wasn’t repeating research that had already been carried out years earlier. Therefore, Blumler + Katz work wasn’t deemed wrong, just not looked at as the main or current explanations. McQuails hypothesis remains the preferred explanations for use and gratifications theory, due to McQuails research been nearer to the media forms we have in modern society, compared to the 1940’s research.
  5. 5. Uses and gratifications theory McQuail (1987) – why people consume media: Information •To try and gain information on relevant events and conditions in society and around the world •Seeking advice on a matter or opinion, which will lead to you making a decision on a specific product/situation •General interest of an individual and a fulfilment of satisfying a curiosity •To learn or self-educate yourself in a certain area Personal identity •Personal values •Model of behaviour •Identifying with others values (within the media) Integration •Gaining an insight into the circumstances of others in the world •Identifying with others, while gaining a sense of belonging •Basis of a conversation, something to converse with to people in society or your peers. •Substitute to real life companionship Entertainment •It can be an escape or distraction from problems you are going through •Relax •Getting aesthetic enjoyment out of the product (usually younger reader, according to the aspirer psychographic grouping)
  6. 6. Uses and gratifications theory Most magazines convey the information explanations with them. For example, this magazine has information on relevant events (live events), information that will allow you to make a decision (reviews), general interest (front cover generates interest, reading it will satisfy this), learning (most articles educate an individual and enable them to take something and in terms of education when they’ve consumed a media product) Many media products carry out some form of personal identity, however, this example fitted in well. If you believe in the statement, it would reinforce your personal values, it would be a model of behaviour and it would identify with others values as well. Again, the majority of magazines will generate a sense of integration, however, gossip magazines such as Heat are the best at doing this. They offer an insight into peoples lives, a sense of voyeurism on celebrities lives can be seen in Heat, which also fulfils the second function of identifying with others while gaining a sense of belonging. Heat magazine gives a l0ot of talking points and allows the audience a basis to for social interaction. The last thing this product will do is creating personal relationships with the celebrities featured in this magazine so are therefore substituting real life companionship. This media product, Vogue, will appeal to a more female orientated audience. This product diverts the consumers attention from their problems, one that you can relax to and a magazine that is aesthetically enjoying to read.
  7. 7. Uses and gratifications theory – McQuail’s explanations in relation to me To try and gain information on relevant events and conditions in society and around the world I want to try and find out information about events and different societies around the world through the media products I consume. I do this by consuming media products such as The Times, which furthers my knowledge on current affairs and events in the wider word. Seeking advice on a matter or opinion, which will lead to you making a decision on a specific product/situation I occasionally rely on media products for advice on a specific product I want o purchase that’s reviewed in the media product itself. The majority of the time I use Q magazine for this, which reviews albums I may wish to buy, therefore, this is why this ex0planation is relevant to me General interest of an individual and a fulfilment of satisfying a curiosity Every media text I consume is been read because of a curiosity I had with an article or a piece on the from about the stories inside. After the magazine/newspaper has been read that curiosity is then satisfied. The examples of products I consume are examples this time also, as well as other media products
  8. 8. Uses and gratifications theory – McQuail’s explanations in relation to me To learn or self-educate yourself in a certain area Like the satisfying of a curiosity, I read every article from ever product I consume to educate myself on a specific topic. However, if I were to give a specific example of a magazine I do it with most, it has to be Top Gear Magazine, which I like to educate myself in the interest area of cars. Gaining an insight into the circumstances of others in society Only a percentage of media products carry this feature out to start with, due to some magazines discussing products, not people. The product that most relates to me is The Times, it communicates a lot of different peoples circumstances in one particular product, which O can relate to a lot. Getting aesthetic enjoyment out of the product and Relax The majority of the media products I read give me these entertainment explanations. However, out of all the media products, NME has the most appealing aesthetic features, while Q magazine allows you to relax while reading the magazine, due to the neutral and restrained colours used.
  9. 9. Reception theory This theory is all about how audiences interpret media, as well as how they receive it also. Analysis of reception theory was conducted first in 1960 by Hans-Robert Jauss. However, the most influential theorist linked to reception theory is cultural theorist Stuart Hall. Two key features of the reception theory is encoding and decoding: This example would lean towards encoding, in which the audience would be passive and therefore not question the caption, instead share the mutual hatred of Abercrombie, like communicated in this caption. Encoding – The media producer fills the product with a ideology they want to convey to the audience. A newspaper, rather than a magazine, is a good example of this. This is due to the traditional anchoring of images with captions using emotive headlines that newspapers do so well. Decoding – The consumer of media products understands the messages while decoding them. When looking at media products, the audience set the messages been put out by the publishers, instead of the other way on, they understand the messages and even question them. In terms of passive or active audiences, a passive audience will take these messages in without applying their own experiences of when consuming the producers messages. An active audience though will take these ideologies in, understand them and then apply their own thoughts and ideas about these messages. Most captions in newspapers can be decoded by an active audience. Each active consumer will interpret the caption in a different way and therefore have their own ideas on the stories and articles.
  10. 10. Reception theory How someone understands a media text (viewpoints) Preferred – The audience consumes and understands the messages been communicated to them, while agreeing with these statements. Negotiated – The consumer generally accepts the preferred reading, but occasionally alters it to reflect their own situation. Oppositional – The reader sill understands the preferred reading, but instead of agreeing or altering, the consumer will reject the messages conveyed, while having an alternative, oppositional view. All three of these understanding viewpoints depend on the values, experiences and backgrounds of the consumer. This maybe related to socio-economics, Geodemographics and psychographics. People with similar ideologies and values of those who create a text, more likely have the same thoughts, where as those with opposing values of media producers may have an oppositional viewpoint. Passive and Active Passive – It states that audiences don’t apply their own experiences of media when consuming texts. As stated before, the hypodermic needle model assumes the consumer to be like this. Active – The consumer applies own thoughts about their previous experiences they’ve had. Both the uses and gratification and the reception theory assume the consumer is an active part of the media text. An active audience will understand the message, while agreeing with the fears of the smoking ban underlined in this article. A negotiated viewpoint will understand the messages of this particular article, however will change it somewhat to reflect their own beliefs. This might be understanding the fears of the smoking ban, but interpreting the story as a negative one. Oppositional viewpoints will still understand the messages, but write them off because they don’t back that particular side of the story.

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