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A-Level Media Studies Audience Theory

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Nathan Munn

on 1 April 2014

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Transcript of A-Level Media Studies Audience Theory

Audience
What is audience?
The receiver(s) of a message.
Those listening to, watching, consuming and decoding your media products.
Who are they?...
We can divide an audience in many ways: age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, physical ability/disability, class/status, regional identity (this list sound familiar?)
Key terms
Mass audience
Mainstream audience
Niche audience
Target audience
Primary audience
Secondary audience
Dual audience
Demographic
Stuart Hall's encoding/decoding model
Hegemonic (preferred) reading
The interpretation of a media text by a decoder who fully shares its ideological code and message.
Negotiated reading
The interpretation broadly shares the ideological code and message but is - to a lesser or greater extent - shaped by their own social position, experiences and interests.
Oppositional reading
An interpretation that opposes the dominant code and rejects it in favour of an alternative ideological code.
So what is AUDIENCE THEORY?
It's the study of how media texts target, reach and have an effect on the audience
Audience theory seeks to answer the question:

What effects do media texts have on audiences?
This media text has the effect of making me laugh. It also reminds me how great cats are. It also makes me think of my cat, which effects the way it has an effect on me...
So let's look at some theories
The Hypodermic Needle Model
The idea that the media is powerful and able to 'inject' ideas directly into the audience.

It assumes that a media text has ONE core message/reading.

Notable examples are Nazi propaganda.
Cultivation Theory
This theory also treats the audience as passive. It suggests that repeated exposure to the same message will have an effect on the audience's attitudes and values.

A similar idea is
desensitisation
that suggests that exposure to violence makes the audience less likely to be shocked by violence and, possibly, to be violent themselves.

Critics say there is a lack of conclusive evidence.
Two Step Flow Theory
This assumes a slightly more active audience.

Info and messages are passed to the inactive mass audience via opinion leaders.
Active Audience Model
This credits audiences with being able to interact with media texts and use them for their own purposes.
We behave differently because we are different people with different backgrounds with many different attitudes, values, experiences and ideas.
Uses and Gratifications Theory
A functionalist approach to the media which considers
why
people use the media rather than what effect it has on them.
‘Media usage can be explained in that it provides gratifications (meaning it satisfies needs) related to the satisfaction of social and psychological needs’.
Blumler & Katz - 1974
Blumler and Katz went on to identify 4 main uses:

Surveillance
- our need to know what is going on in the world
Personal relationships
- our need to interact with other people
Personal identity
- our need to define our identity and sense of self
Diversion
- the need for escape, entertainment and relaxation.

Reception Theory
This theory suggests that social and daily experiences
can
affect the way an audience responds to (reads) a media text...
What is this Prezi going to be about?
Reinforcement
Theory

This suggests that the media's effect on us is limited and that we tend to apply pre-existing beliefs to the texts we consume.
So... how could any of these be applied to your products?

To answer this, you might want to consider a typical exam question on the topic of audience:
Analyse one of your coursework productions in relation to the concept of audience.
Full transcript