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Communication Theory

Three Theories

Theories of Communication

“Mass Audience” Theories:
 

The „Magic Bullet‟ or „Hypodermic Needle‟ Theory The „Two Step‟ Theory

The „Uses and Gratifications‟ Theory

But first, a question:

Do you believe that watching violent images on television can cause people to commit violent acts?

(Some critics have talked about media audiences as atomised. the audience for a media text are all receiving exactly the same thing.cut off from other people like separate atoms) Wherever they are in the world.The Audience as ‘Mass’   The media are often experienced by people alone. .

• Before this. entertainment.The Audience as ‘Mass’ • Film. radio and television all invented within less than a hundred years of each other. • „New‟ media forms allowed them to be transmitted • in exactly the same form • to enormous numbers of people • in different parts of the world. cultural artefacts restricted to the number of people who could fit into an art gallery or a theatre. consumption of art. .

but now suddenly films (and particularly radio) were available to all. many forms of entertainment were only available to those who could afford them.The Audience as ‘Mass’ • These media quickly became extremely popular • in the past. . • Hence the idea of a „mass‟ audience.

• . five years after the second world war Hitler and Stalin had attempted to use the media as propaganda .through films.The Audience as ‘Mass’ Herbert Blumer: • • writing about the media in 1950. radio and poster art they had attempted to persuade mass audiences to follow their policies not surprising that the media must have seemed like a dangerous weapon.

of different vocation. of different cultural attainment. and from all distinguishable social strata. Do you think the audiences for most media texts do come "from all walks of life" or do different kinds of people watch very different kinds of programme? Are there any examples of media texts that you can think of that do seem to have audiences of all kinds of people?  . it may include people of different class position. and of different wealth. its membership may come from all walks of life.The Audience as ‘Mass’  Blumer‟s Description:  First.

there exists little interaction or change of experience between members of the mass. They are usually physically separated from one another.The Audience as ‘Mass’  Blumer‟s Description:   Secondly. the mass is an anonymous group. and. . do not have the opportunity to mill as do members of the crowd. or more exactly is composed of anonymous individuals Third. being anonymous.

The Audience as ‘Mass’  Blumer‟s Description:  Fourth. How much of your media experience is when you are on you own and how much when you are with others? Are there any ways in which you share your experiences of the media with other people who weren't around when you experienced the text?   . the mass is very loosely organised and is not able to act with the concertedness or unity of a crowd.

Theory 1: The Magic Bullet Theory • • • • • originated in the 1920's and 1930's proposes that audience are all passive and equally susceptible to media messages media has the ability to shape public opinion and persuade the masses toward nearly any point of view so messages are like „magic bullets‟ • they strike all members of the audience equally • create uniform effects among them also known as the Hypodermic Needle Theory • media are assumed to be injecting all audience members with the same message • causes uniform thinking among them that the author of the media text intended. .

The Magic Bullet Theory Mass Media You .

e.The Magic Bullet Theory   Seen as simplistic: doesn't take into account people's individuality Very popular in society particularly for politicians looking for reasons why society has become more violent.g:    Dunblane Jeffrey Dahmer Jamie Bulger .

.The Magic Bullet Theory    Evolution of theory: the „Culmination‟ model Difficult to prove effects of individual media texts on audience According to this. years and years of watching more violence will make you less sensitive to violence. while any one media text does not have too much effect.

.Theory 2: Two-Step Theory    1940s ideas flow from mass media to opinion leaders and from them to the less active sections of the population People tend to be much more affected in their decision making process by face to face encounters with influential peers than by the mass media.

Two-Step Theory Mass Media Opinion Leaders Public .

Two-Step Theory Mass Media Opinion Leaders Public .

Two-Step Theory Mass Media Opinion Leaders Public .

soaps or detective dramas. opera or garage? Do you have any feelings about the kinds of audience these different forms of media attract . Relies on the assumptions of the people analysing the masses.“  Are there any forms of media that you think society gives greater status to? For example which do people see as "better": films or television.that they are easily led and not so perceptive and self-aware as the theorists who are analysing them.Criticisms of ‘mass audience’ theories:   Elitist: it suggests a value judgement about these masses .are some likely to be more thoughtful and more intelligent than others? . Early theorists were generally lovers of classical music and hated television and so they tended to look down at the viewers of television who they saw as "the mass.

modern critical theory suggest that the same text will be interpreted differently by different people. However. This suggests that a single film will be the same for every person who watches it.Criticisms of ‘mass audience’ theories:    The second major idea of the mass audience theory was that the mass were all watching the same text. Mass audience theories fail to take into account the differences in people‟s experiences of the same texts. .

For instance .Theory 3: Uses and Gratifications Theory     the media have a limited effect on their audiences because audiences are able to exercise control over their media active use made of media by audience members to seek gratification of a variety of needs The needs most commonly identified are:  information (i. monitoring what's going on in the world)  integration and social interaction (we use the media to find out more about the circumstances of other people perhaps through empathy or sympathy)  personal identity (we may watch television for models for our behaviour. attempts to answer: What do people do with the media? . entertainment and escapism).we may identify with soap characters or their situations)  diversion (i.e.e.

Theory 3: Uses and Gratifications Theory  Information      finding out about relevant events and conditions in immediate surroundings. self-education gaining a sense of security through knowledge . society and the world seeking advice on practical matters or opinion and decision choices satisfying curiosity and general interest learning.

social empathy identifying with others and gaining a sense of belonging finding a basis for conversation and social interaction having a substitute for real-life companionship helping to carry out social roles enabling one to connect with family. friends and society .Theory 3: Uses and Gratifications Theory  Integration and Social Interaction       gaining insight into circumstances of others.

Theory 3: Uses and Gratifications Theory  Personal Identity     finding reinforcement for personal values finding models of behaviour identifying with valued other (in the media) gaining insight into one's self .

or being diverted. from problems relaxing getting intrinsic cultural or aesthetic enjoyment filling time emotional release .Theory 3: Uses and Gratifications Theory  Entertainment      escaping.

U&G: Example  What do you think are the uses and gratifications of watching a quiz show? .

The Uses and Gratifications of a Quiz Show  Information/Education      I find I know more than I thought I find I have improved myself I feel respect for the people on the programme I think over some of the questions afterwards It‟s educational .

The Uses and Gratifications of a Quiz Show  Integration/Social Interaction       I look forward to talking about it with others I like competing with other people watching with me I like working together with the family on the answers The children get a lot out of it It brings the family together sharing the same interest It is a topic of conversation afterwards .

The Uses and Gratifications of a Quiz Show  Personal Identity      I can compare myself with the experts I like to imagine that I am on the programme and doing well I feel pleased that the side I favour has actually won I am reminded of when I was in school I laugh at the contestants‟ mistakes .

The Uses and Gratifications of a Quiz Show  Entertainment/Diversion      I like the excitement of a close finish I like to forget my worries for a while I like trying to guess the winner Having got the answer right I feel really good I get involved in the competition .

Criticisms of Uses and Gratifications Theory  we do not always have complete choice as to what we receive from the media    imposed by our environment limited options minorities feel that the media does not provide for them the texts that they want to use. .

Criticisms of Uses and Gratifications Theory  we do not always have complete choice as to what we receive from the media    imposed by our environment limited options minorities feel that the media does not provide for them the texts that they want to use. .

. Based on the idea that no text has one simple meaning audience themselves help to create the meaning of the text We all decode the texts that we encounter in individual ways which may be a result of our upbringing. the place where we are at the time or in fact any combination of these and all kinds of other factors. the mood that we are in.Reception Analysis       Evolution of Uses and Gratifications U&G: looks at how we use media Reception looks at what we see.

factors such as a gender. and the context of the time we are living in can be enormously important when we make the meaning or a text.Reception Analysis     Not just how much we enjoy the text: we will actually create a different meaning for it as well. our place in society. Strength: concentrates on the individual and takes into account the complexity of individual response Weakness: ignores the context of everyday life .

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