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Outline the three main approaches to Audience Studies assessing the strengths and weaknesses.

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Introduction

Outline the three main approaches to Audience Studies assessing the strengths and weaknesses. The study of audience refers to the analysis of individuals or groups of people whom media products are directed at. Originally the term audience was used to describe a group of people gathered to hear a speech, lecture or debate but the meaning has since been extended to cover readers of books and viewers of television, cinema, etc. There are three main approaches to analysing audience behaviour. The first approach is the Effects model, which is also often called the hypodermic model. The effects model is an approach that emphasises on the effect media has on its audience. The basic assumption is that the mass media have a direct, immediate and influential effect on its audience, and it is argued this effect is often negative. In particular there has been great concern about the possible harmful effects the media has on young people. Mediums such as cinema, pop music, television and radio have been blamed for various social problems concerning young people, especially violent behaviour. An example being the argument that films like Reservoir Dogs are to blame for murders and attacks that have occurred. The effects model is closely linked with The Frankfurt School, which was a group of German theorists who studied mass culture in the 1920's and 1930's. ...read more.

Middle

in the media. According to Denis McQuail 'It is assumed that needs arising out of social circumstances and psychological dispositions determine both the pattern of use of mass media and response to mass content.' (Cited in Gration et al 1988:114) These needs could for instance be satisfied by the media in terms of information, security, escape, group identification and have been grouped under the four main headings of Diversion, Personal Relationships, Personal Identity and Surveillance. Diversion means to escape from routine and everyday worries of life. Personal Relationships can be to do with either companionship for an isolated person or topic for discussion with others for someone more social. For example, "Did you see that documentary on music culture last night?" Personal identity is concerned with audience members making comparisons between themselves and people in the media. Whilst Surveillance is basically just audience members gaining information about what is going on around the world. The Uses and Gratification model was most prominent during the 1970's and 1980's with the work of the already mentioned McQuail along with other academics such as Blumler, Katz and Rozengren. In Blumler and Katz's The Use of Communication they emphasise the social origin needs which the media pur DICTIONARY OF MEDIA to gratify. ...read more.

Conclusion

The decoding strategies employed by the audience are similarly dependent upon social structural relations, political and cultural dispositions and access to the relevant technology. While a Halls 'Encoding/Decoding' article states the dual nature of textual production, it is most often remembered for the emphasis it places on three forms (preferred, negotiated and oppositional) of audience reading strategy. Preferred reading agrees exactly what the media is saying. Negotiated reading begins to ask questions but still shares a common sense view to negotiate its own understanding. Whilst Oppositional reading is a completely different interpretation and means what's being told is totally reject completely by the audience member/s. This model forms the backdrop to David Morley and Charlotte Brunsden's Everyday Television: Nationwide (1978) study in audience research. After analysing general news and current affairs programmes, Morley and Brunsden went on to examine political communication programmes, intended for a wider audience in term of class and gender, such as the programme Nationwide. This was the starting point for the study of popular genres such as situation comedies, sports programmes and soap operas. Everyday Television explored the way these mass entertainment programmes perceived the lives of men and women from a broad range of social groups, including a study of representation of masculine and feminine genders, social classes and ethnic groups. Morley suggested that the encoded text serves to position subjects as a maker of a political group and the decoding process is related to social class. ...read more.

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