WHAT IS THE USES AND GRATIFICATIONS
Uses and Gratifications Theory is a popular approach to understanding
mass communication. The theory places more focus on the consumer, or
audience, instead of the actual message itself by asking “what people do
with media” rather than “what media does to people” (Katz, 1959) . It
assumes that members of the audience are not passive but take an active
role in interpreting and integrating media into their own lives. The theory
also holds that audiences are responsible for choosing media to meet their
needs. The approach suggests that people use the media to fulfil specific
gratifications. This theory would then imply that the media compete
against other information sources for viewers' gratification. (Katz, E.,
Blumler, J. G., & Gurevitch, M. 1974)
AUDIENCE AND USES & GRATIFICATIONS
Information – Some magazines or newspapers are used to gain a sense of security through knowledge by finding out
about recent and relevant events within immediate surroundings, society and around the world. Some people may also
use reading a particular magazine to gain some learning, and self educate by perhaps reading around the desired
subject. Another use linked to information is to seek advice on particular matters or opinions and decision making on
choices. Also, to satisfy curiosity and because of general interest. -This is the case for every magazine no matter if its
music or film.
Entertainment – Some people may choose to read magazines to fill some time while bored or also to release
emotionally by escaping, or being diverted from everyday life and problems. Some people may also use media for
sexual arousal or relaxing. Some may use media by getting essential cultural or visual enjoyment.
Personal Identity – Some people may read magazines to find role models of behaviour in which they can identify and
relate to with similar situations or storys. Some may also gain insight into one’s self by reading about a hobby etc. or
finding reinforcement for personal values -This is crucial in selling the magazine to an audience as if the audience can
empathise and gain personal identity through reading a magazine
Integration & Social interaction – Having a substitute for real-life companionship can be another reason as to why
people like to read magazines, or also helping to carry out social roles. Enabling one to connect with family and friends
in society by having something to talk about while socialising can also pay a big part as to the uses and gratifications of
magazines. Also, to identify with others and gain a sense of belonging and gaining insight into circumstances of others
e.g. Social empathy -This allows audiences of these magazines to connect with other members of the audience to
discuss and share opinions/views on what they’ve seen and can relate to in the magazine
EXAMPLE OF USES AND GRATIFICATIONS
IN A MUSIC MAGAZINE
• Entertainment – This content page from NME offers readers a sense of escapism
through the ability to find out the latest information on the band of their choice,
using the index to the left to make it personal to the individual reader. Easy
navigation of what they want to look at which is a relaxing element. Different
subtitles also emphasize this further.
• Personal Relationships – Most important news is shown on the content page
along the left hand side, this means that readers can keep up to date with all the
latest news in the music industry on a range of artists, meaning they can keep up
to date with friends.
• Personal Identity – There is the option for the reader to get involved by
subscribing to the magazine, which supports the magazine they are reading and
can view the magazine where ever they are. There is also a option to subsicribe to
make it more personal
• Surveillance – This content page allows the reader to learn more about a range
of celebrities and their lives, for example there is an index of various bands down
the left hand side.
Many people have criticized this theory as they believe the public has no control
over the media and what it produces. It can also be said to be too kind to the
media, as they are being 'let off the hook' and do not need to take responsibility
for what they produce.
The theory takes out the possibility that the media can have an unconscious
influence over our lives and how we view the world. The idea that we simply use
the media to satisfy a given need does not seem to fully recognize the power of
the media in today’s society. (I.e daytime TV is aimed for housewives)
‘Media consumers have a free will to decide how they will use the media and how
it will effect them.’ This may be argued as media can be manipulative such as the
news in its use of hegemony.
However this theory may be more relevant in modern society as the internet and
satellite TV such as Sky enables us to have much more freedom and control over
what we consume in relation to the pre- internet and analogue TV.