TV In the context of: “Uses and Gratification approach”

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Uses & Gratifications approach arose originally in the 1940s and underwent a revival in the 1970s and 1980s. It presents the use of media in terms of the gratification of social or psychological needs of the individual (Blumler & Katz 1974). The mass media compete with other sources of gratification, but gratifications can be obtained from a medium's content (e.g. watching a specific program). Zillmann (cited by McQuail 1987: 236) has shown the influence of mood on media choice: boredom encourages the choice of exciting content and stress encourages a choice of relaxing content. The same TV program may gratify different needs for different individuals.

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TV In the context of: “Uses and Gratification approach”

  1. 1. TV In the context of: “Uses and Gratification approach” Presented by, Rijitha R, Dept. of Journalism and Communication, University of Madras (2008-09) Introduction: Uses & Gratifications approach arose originally in the 1940s and underwent a revival in the 1970s and 1980s. It presents the use of media in terms of the gratification of social or psychological needs of the individual (Blumler & Katz 1974). The mass media compete with other sources of gratification, but gratifications can be obtained from a medium's content (e.g. watching a specific program). Zillmann (cited by McQuail 1987: 236) has shown the influence of mood on media choice: boredom encourages the choice of exciting content and stress encourages a choice of relaxing content. The same TV program may gratify different needs for different individuals. Blumler and Katz believe that there is not merely one way that the populace uses media. Instead, they believe there are as many reasons for using media as there are media users. According to the theory, media consumers have a free will to decide how they will use the media and how it will affect them. The theory takes out the possibility that media can have an unconscious influence on our lives and how we view the world. The idea that we simply use media to satisfy a given need does not seem to recognize the power of media in today’s society. (West, R., and Turner, L. H, 2000: 332). Denis McQuail offers (McQuail 1987: 73) the following typology of common reasons for media use: 1
  2. 2. Information  finding out about relevant events and conditions in immediate surroundings, society and the world  seeking advice on practical matters or opinion and decision choices  satisfying curiosity and general interest  learning; self-education  gaining a sense of security through knowledge Personal Identity  finding reinforcement for personal values  finding models of behavior  identifying with valued other (in the media)  gaining insight into one's self Entertainment  escaping, or being diverted, from problems  relaxing  getting intrinsic cultural or aesthetic enjoyment  filling time 2
  3. 3. Katz, McQuail and Gurevitch introduced “Uses and Gratifications” theory as a theory of “Mass media effects”. They turned their attention to how audiences use media to live out their lives and seek out gratifications, or even to inform and educate about the world and its people. Thus, media effects were related to the needs and activities of audiences. This theory was largely concerned with the selection, reception and nature of response of audience to the media. The assumption is that the individual members in an audience make conscious selection of the channels and the programs. Related studies on Uses and Gratifications: Foreign Studies: Kocak and Terkan(2005) in their study, investigates media use behaviors and television usage motives of elderly in Turkey. The samples were aged over 60 years. It is said that the elders spend an average 4 hours a day on watching television. The study’s result verify that the importance of relaxation/entertainment/ companionship, information/interpersonal utility/surveillance and pass time/habits as a motive for watching television. All these four motives indicate a positive relation with the level of television use. Moreover, gender, age and number of television at home were also found to be important in determining the level of television usage. Asran (2001) in his study explore the needs that Egyptian rural adolescents seek to gratify through TV viewing. This study found the relationships between amount of exposure to TV and gratifications of TV. The study revealed that the usage of TV among Egyptian adolescents was intentional and the surveillance was the most common need, which the 3
  4. 4. respondents seek to be gratified and the least deed was to escape from work and to forget about problems. Cooper and Tang (2008), in their study on Individual and Structural Determinants of Audience Exposure to Television ,this study incorporated both uses and gratifications and structural variables to explain audience exposure to television and also compared predictors of exposure between college students and non-student adults. The result of the study explained that both individual and structural factors influence audience exposure to television and that no single theoretical construct explains the complexities that determine exposure to television. Linebarger, Chernin and Kotler (2008) this study had done to identify young children’s perceptions of both old and new media and to relate these perceptions to their media exposure. In this study children’s were asked questions like, ‘‘what activity would a happy child want to do?’’ and ‘‘what activity would an angry child want to do?’’ Children’s were also asked to select the medium that they themselves would use if they wanted to learn something new and if they had nothing else to do (i.e. were bored). Researchers found that children’s choices seemed to reflect commonly held beliefs about what type of person would select various types of media (In this study it is found that lazy children watched television i.e. they made use of TV to get over from things ex: studying). TV and Uses and Gratification approach - Indian Studies: Indian studies revealed, "Other technologies are also influencing the subsequent understandings of television programming in India" (Butcher 2002). The viewers seems 4
  5. 5. to be using television programs to redefine their life-styles in various ways" (Gupta, 1998: 136), "the Indian value systems, and culture are strong enough to withstand any outside undesirable influences" (Joshi, 1998). Minnebo (2000), in his study on fear of crime and television use said that, the relationship between television exposure and fear of crime by using the context of uses and gratifications theory predicts that people who are fearful will expose themselves to media content that helps them to reduce this fear. This study predicted that more relevant fear of crime is to a person, will be exposed TV more as the TV programs might offer advices how to avoid victimization. Therefore it is been stated that the audience watch TV only for their use or to get some information. Audience Selectivity and Involvement in the Media Environment a study by Perse (1990), this study considered two types of selectivity: program selection before exposure and changing channels while viewing. This study included four indications of audience involvement: intentionality, or anticipating television viewing; attention, or focused effort; thinking about program content; and engaging in distractions while viewing as the media environment provides more program choice In one of my study on Senior Citizens and TV, said that needs of senior citizens towards the media is satisfied when they watch TV. They used media in such a way in which they are relaxed. Samples were asked, what programs they watch on TV, time they spent and the kinds of programs they like. In this study, it is found that the senior citizens watch TV as it is more entertaining. 5
  6. 6. Kavitha, in her study explained about effectiveness of adolescence in talk shows, here the sample “choose and use the media” for their gratification. This study was done by using uses and gratifications approach and the sample of the study were adolescence, and the media used was TV. In Vinodhini’s study in which she used uses and gratifications approach, she argued that how medical practitioners search for their wanted/ related items by the use of media. This study had done to know how far the samples use media. This study deals with the usage of the media. In my study on TV and Well-being of unmarried, working men and women it is stated, the sample watch TV programs for relaxing. As the samples focused here was unmarried and working they had more pressure and stress so to get rid of that they watch TV programs from which they get satisfaction. In the findings it is been found that the samples of unmarried working men watched News more which was informative and the sample of unmarried working women watched Songs more which is an aspect of entertainment. A study on TV dependency among married and unmarried men, by Sathya says that, people (samples) depend on media for getting more information. In this study, it is said that they became so dependent so they spend more time in watching TV for gratification. Conclusion: Blumler and Katz’s Uses and Gratification theory suggest that media users play an active role in choosing and using media. Users take an active part in the communication 6
  7. 7. process and are goal-oriented in their media usage. Theorists say that media users seek out source that best fulfills their needs. Uses and Gratifications theory assumes that users have alternate choices to satisfy their needs (Griffin, 2000). Focus of this theory is that viewers attend, perceive and remember information that is pleasurable in some ways that satisfy their needs. Most communication research up to this point was questioning, "What do media do to people?" However, Katz suggested asking the question, "What do people do with media?" (Severin & Tankard, 1997). The choices were people make were motivated by the desire to satisfy/ gratify a range of needs. Hence, the uses and gratifications approach is concerned to identify how people use the media to gratify their needs. Nevertheless, the uses and gratification approach, within the Functionalist theory, shifted the focus from the purposes of the communication to the purpose of the reader (Severin and Tankard 1997) and opened a door to a modern understanding of mass communication. Reference: Abelman, R., (1987).Why do people watch religious TV: A Uses and Gratifications approach. Cleveland State University Review of Religious Research, Vol. 29, No. 2 Cooper, R. & Tang, T., (2008) "Individual and Structural Determinants of Audience Exposure to Television: An Empirical Integration". International Communication Association. 7
  8. 8. Godlewski, R. & Perse, E., (2007). "Audience Activity and Reality Television: Identification, Online Activity, and Satisfaction". Vol. -05-23. Linebarger, D., Chernin, A. & Kotler, J., (2008). ‘‘LAZY KIDS WATCH TV’’:Children’s perceptions of media and non-media activities. Journal of Children and Media, Vol. 2, No. 1. Rubin, M. & Rubin, B., (1982). "Older Persons' TV Viewing Patterns and Motivations". Communication Research, 9 (2), 287-313. 8

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