2 Most audience theory focuses on two questions.. How powerful are the media in influencing the ideas and behaviour of the audience?And…How does the media shape an audience’s perception of the world?Audience theories suggest that representations are open to different interpretations and that their meanings are not fixed.
3 Consumption of mediaThere are different ways of consuming media texts…Primary media(texts demand close and concentrated attention from audience, eg. Films in cinemas)Secondary media(texts provide a background for an audience who are often doing something else at the same time and are distracted, eg. Radio and some TV programmes)Tertiary media(texts that are consumed by audiences who are almost unaware of their own engagement with the media, eg. Advertising or radio stations broadcasting in shops)
4 Market-Liberalism Perspective Political-Economy Perspective Stresses power of AUDIENCE over media producersStresses the power of PRODUCERS over media audiencesMarket-Liberalism PerspectivePolitical-Economy PerspectiveAudience research and pre-testingMedia is produced to appeal to advertisersAudience preference decides what media texts are producedThe power of media organisations are open to abuse - promoting political parties etc
5 HYPODERMIC NEEDLE MODEL USES AND GRATIFICATIONS THEORY Information is unmediatedHYPODERMIC NEEDLE MODELAlso called the ‘limited effects paradigm’TWO STEP FLOW MODELDating from 1920sPassive audienceSocial effects are important in the way audiences consume textsBlumler and Katz 1974Stuart Hall’s Encoding/Decoding modelUSES AND GRATIFICATIONS THEORYRECEPTION THEORYTexts have preferred meaningAudiences consume texts for different reasons and in different ways
6 Passive audiencesEffects Theory Some commentators see the media as a sinister and insidious force. The Frankfurt School (Adorno and Horkheimer) – a group of Marxist intellectuals developed a critique of the mass media after expressing horror at the success of Nazi Germany propaganda. They argued the media had considerable power over the behaviour and beliefs of the audience. The passive audience soak up the empty promises of mass entertainment, becoming willing victims who both produce and consume the products of consumer capitalism. The audience are powerless to resist the effects of media messages.
7 The two step flow modelKatz and Lazarsfeld Reception in which media messages are mediated by others – ‘opinion leaders’. US presidential campaign 1940 Our opinion can form or develop based on what others have to say. Importance of word of mouth
8 Encoding/decodingStuart Hall drew upon the Gramscian hegemony theory in developing the encoding/decoding model. He wanted to focus on how dominant ideological messages can be resisted or reinterpreted by audience members. At the encoding stage, the producers of texts create messages (codes) which they expect their viewers/readers to understand. When the audience come in contact with the text, we decode the messages to create meaning. Fundamentally, media messages are POLYSEMIC – they contain numerous possible interpretations. However, we can be steered towards a preferred reading of a text.
9 Stuart HallPreferred, Negotiated and Oppositional readings of media textsFor example…
12 Or.....You may think that big macs do taste good, but I’ll only have them every now and again
13 So here we have three separate readings of that one advert
14 In 1980 David Morley did a study of audience responses when watching the BBC TV show Spotlight. As a result of his research, he decided that audiences tend to fall into three groups based on their interpretation of the text.....Preferred ReadingNegotiated ReadingOppositional Reading
15 The preferred reading is the reading media producers hope audiences will take from the text.
16 receiving their own alternative message. Audience members from outside the target audience may reject the preferred reading,receiving their own alternative message.
17 suit their own values and opinions. Negotiated reading is when audiences acknowledge the preferred reading, but modify it tosuit their own values and opinions.
18 What is the PREFERRED reading? The NEGOCIATED reading?The OPPOSITIONAL reading?
19 Active audiences The Uses and Gratifications Theory The audience has a set of needs (Blumler and Katz 1975)DiversionIntegration & Social InteractionPersonal identitySurveillance/InformationWe use the media to gratify our needs.We actively seek out media products that we really want.Links with liberal-pluralist perspectives (consumers hold the power over producers)
20 Coronation Street viewers are individuals who are motivated by different impulses A need for companyTo combat loneliness – allows audience to perceive themselves to be part of an IMAGINED COMMUNITYThe need to be part of a groupThe need to identify with characters and scenariosThe need for structure and order – offers a reassuring routineRelaxation
21 Uses and gratifications 1) SURVEILLANCE/INFORMATIONWe want to find out about society and the world.
22 2) INTEGRATION & SOCIAL INTERACTION Companionship through identification with television charactersWe want to find out more about the circumstances of other people so we can empathise/sympathise with the lives of others.Sociability through discussion about television with other people.
23 USES AND GRATIFICATIONS 3) PERSONAL IDENTITYFinding reinforcement for personal values.Identifying with a valued other in the media.Gaining insight into one’s self.
24 Gratification 4) DIVERSION We use the media for enjoyment, relaxation or just to fill time.
25 What uses and gratifications do the above offer their audiences?
26 New media – the internet utopiandystopianThe internet user is savvy, well informed and creativeDistinctions between production and reception are blurredOnline communities allow audiences to interact with each other and producersActiveStudies of internet users have shown an unequal distribution in terms of gender, age, ethnicity and social class.There are increasing levels of corporate domination – big companies exploit the potential for making money from users.Levels of control and surveillance inhibit the autonomy and creativity once associated with the internet.