Audience theories


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Audience theories

  1. 1. Key Concepts: Audiences By Sadek Miah
  2. 2. <ul><li>The modern approach to studying the consumption of media texts is to refer to ‘audiences’ not the ‘audience’. The plural form suggests the many varied ways in which people may consume the same mass-distributed text. </li></ul><ul><li>The 3 Theories: </li></ul><ul><li>Effects Model (Hypodermic needle model) – the effects theory is a rather outdated model of audience consumption. It places the power with the text and the institution that created the text. The audience is seen as a single mass that passively receive the messages of the text. It implies that the powerful media ‘inject’ messages into an unquestioning audience. Although, this is considered to be an oversimplified model, it is certainly true that the media can have an enormous effect on people, people can be ‘addicted’ to computer games and certain uses of the internet, governments use media propaganda to further their aims, and advertising is known to be so powerful that certain products, e.g. cigarettes, cannot be advertised on television. </li></ul><ul><li>The Uses and Gratification Model – emphasises what consumes of media products do with them, the power is considered to lie with the individual consumer of the media who is seen to use certain tests to gratify certain needs and interests. Theorists Blumler and Katz postulated that there were five main reasons why audiences consumed media texts: </li></ul><ul><li>To be informed or educated. </li></ul><ul><li>In order to identify with characters and situations. </li></ul><ul><li>To be entertained. </li></ul><ul><li>To enable themselves to socially interact with others (watching, listening or reading together or through discussion of what they’d consumed) </li></ul><ul><li>To escape from their daily troubles or woes </li></ul><ul><li>The Influence Model – emphasises the subtler, less direct capacity of the media to influence perceptions. It recognises that people respond to other influences, such as opinion leaders, who may mediate the message of the media. Thus, media effect can be seen as one of reinforcement – closer to ‘influence’ than ‘brainwashing’. Research by Stuart hall found that rather than the autonomous individualised audience members of the uses and gratifications approach, that audience members shared certain frameworks of interpretation and that they work at decoding media texts within these frameworks. Hall proposed three types of audience readings: </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Dominant – the reader recognises what the text’s preferred meaning is and broadly agrees with it. </li></ul><ul><li>Oppositional – where the dominant meaning is recognised but rejected for cultural or ideological reasons. </li></ul><ul><li>Negotiated – where the reader accepts, rejects or refines elements of the text in light of previously held views. </li></ul><ul><li>Re-Mediating Audiences </li></ul><ul><li>A new phase of media use has been entered – audience material (user generated content) is now common. Audiences can now help create the media that was previously only in the hands of institutions. News makers are keen for audiences to send usable material in the form of photos, videos and comments Entertainment formats, like talent shows, put audience members in the spotlight. They also allow audience members to shape the texts by voting on who stays and who goes. We are in the age of the ‘prosumer’ (consumers who produce media texts). </li></ul>