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Audience theory

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AS Audience theory

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Audience theory

  1. 1. All media texts are made for a particular audience. Most of the time we take this for granted – we know that we are likely to enjoy some texts but be very uninterested in other texts. Analysing a media text is much easier once you have identified the target audience, because then you can start to look for particular features of the text which appeal to that audience
  2. 2. The term ‘Target Audience’ for media producers means ‘the audience we think we are making this product for’. Media producers identify the target audience during the planning stage for a media text, because it affects the shape of the text so much
  3. 3. The Audience and the Text • Every media text is produced with the intended reader in the mind. It is important therefore that the producer considers both the; • Content of the text – is it suitable/appropriate for the audience? • Style of presentation - is it attractive to the audience and will the content be understood by them. • For example tabloids and broadsheets will differ in content and style.
  4. 4. Gender The different interests of men and women are the most obvious factor in considering audiences, by advertisers. Women are still assumed to buy most grocery items, whereas technology is assumed to interest men.
  5. 5. Age The different interests of different age groups are another obvious factor in considering audiences. Children are interested in cartoons, whereas pensioners are interested in documentaries.
  6. 6. Social class • Advertisers have not been persuaded by the ‘classless society’ in the UK. The social classes are categorised as: • ABC1 – the middle class market • C2DE - the working class market • These categories are based on the occupational groupings developed for the government census every ten years. • A higher managerial and professional; • B middle management • C1 office workers • C2 skilled manual workers • D unskilled workers • E unemployed, unwaged
  7. 7. Lifestyle Marketing Media Organisations sometimes seek to nickname particular niche markets as an easy way to define target audiences. Among the best known names are YUPPIES (young upwardly mobile professionals) DINKYS (double income no kids yet)
  8. 8. Star Wars was initially intended as a kids film. The target audience was children. The actual audience for Star Wars turned out to be adults.
  9. 9. Differential Decoding • Different audiences have different reactions to the same text because of age, gender, social class, ethnic group, lifestyle, politics, religion, values, taste, education and so on. A text may be targeted at a certain audience, but other audiences will watch the text and have a different reaction to the text from the creators’ preferred reading.
  10. 10. Preferred, Negotiated and Oppositional Reading David Morley found that there were 3 ways to read a text. 1. A Preferred reading is the reading which the media producers want the audience to receive. 2. A Negotiated reading is one where the audience accepts the meaning the media producers intend for the text but it changes some of the intentions of the text to suit its own position. 3. An Oppositional reading is one where the audience reject the preferred reading of the text and interpret the text in a different way.
  11. 11. The hypodermic syringe model - mass audience theory • 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 influenced- in other words, you watch something violent, you may go and do something violent, you see a woman washing up on T.V. and you will want to do the same yourself if you are a woman and if you are a man you will expect women to do the washing up for you. • The audience in this case would be seen as passive audiences.
  12. 12. This theory is still quoted during moral panics by parents, politicians and pressure groups, and is used to explain why certain groups in society should not be exposed to certain media texts (comics in the 1950s, rap music in the 2000s), for fear that they will watch or read sexual or violent behaviour and will then act them out themselves.
  13. 13. • This theory has been particularly popular when people have been considering violence in films. There have been films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and A Clockwork Orange which had been banned partly because of a belief that they might encourage people to copy the crimes within them. • Many people have therefore seen the theory as simplistic because it doesn't take any account of people's individuality and yet it is still very popular in society particularly for politicians looking for reasons why society has become more violent which can't be blamed on
  14. 14. Uses and Gratifications Theory
  15. 15. • The “Uses & Gratifications” theory of audience suggests, unlike the hypodermic needle model, that the audience determines what to do with the media rather than the media simply influencing the audience directly. • When an audience actively seeks media, they want to gratify a need – the message of the media is not being forced on them as such, they are choosing to interpret its message. • The main idea is that media does not fully control a helpless audience, but rather the media is subjective per person as they use it to meet needs. (It is essentially the opposite of the hypodermic needle model).
  16. 16. But what does this actually mean? What kinds of gratification can we be getting? In general researchers have found four: 1. 2. Personal Identity- we may watch the television in order to look for models for our behaviour. So, for example, we may identify with characters that we see in a soap. The characters help us to decide what feel about ourselves and if we agree with their actions and they succeed we feel better about ourselves Information- Information gathering we want to find out about society and the world- we want to satisfy our curiosity. This would fit news and documentaries which both give us a sense that we are learning about the world.
  17. 17. 3. Entertainment - sometimes we simply use the media for enjoyment, relaxation or just to fill time. 4. Integration and Social Interaction - we use the media in order to find out more about the circumstances of other people. At the same time television may help us to get on with our real friends as we are able to talk about the media with them – or even substituting characters from films or TV programmes for our own families. You can probably recognise yourself in some of these descriptions and not surprisingly uses and gratification theory has become quite popular amongst media critics. It is important to remember with this theory that it is likely that with any media text you enjoy, you will be getting a number of Gratifications from it and not just one

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