G325 Q1B: Audience

L.O: To apply audience theories to
one of our productions
Peer assessment
• Have they defined the concept of narrative?
• Have they got each section of the PEEL?
• Have they clearly identified a theorist to engage
• Do they use clear, specific examples from their
production and link the analysis clearly to
• Is there a link to the audience?
Write a WWW and an EBI
• Audience: viewers, listeners and readers (consumers) of a media

• 'Audience' is a very important concept throughout media studies.
All media texts are made with an audience in mind, i.e. a group of
people who will receive it and make some sort of sense out of it.
And generally, but not always, the producers make some money out
of that audience. Therefore it is important to understand what
happens when an audience "meets" a media text.

• Media audiences can be a group (cinema) or individual (reader).
Consumption can take place in public or private and can be
domestic, leisure or work related.
VALS – take the survey!
Classifying Your Audience
• Can your target audience be categorised using
these classification systems?
• Go around the room and categorise your
audience for each of the models given.
Socio-economic: classifying audiences
by class
Top management, bankers, lawyers,
A Upper middle class doctors, other professionals

B Middle class Middle management, teachers,
creatives eg graphic designers

C1 Lower middle class Office supervisors, junior managers,
nurses, specialist clerical staff

C2 Skilled working class Skilled workers, tradespersons
(white collar)

D Working class Semi-skilled and unskilled manual
workers (blue collar)

E Lowest level of Unemployment, students,
pensioners, casual workers
Young and Rubicam’s 4 Consumers

Mainstreamers Make up 40% of the population. They like
security and belonging to a group.

Aspirers Want status and the esteem of others. Like
status symbols, designer labels etc. Live off
credit and cash.

Succeeders People who already have status and control.

Reformers Define themselves through their self-esteem
and self-fulfilment. Anti-materialistic, socially
aware and tolerant.
Tribe Wired Digital, free-spirited, creative young singles.

Fun/Atics Aspirational, fun-seeking, active young people.

Dynamic Duos Hard-driving, high-involvement couples.

Priority Parents Family values, activities, media strongly dominate.

Home Soldiers Home-centric, family-orientated, materially ambitious.

Renaissance Women Active, caring, affluent, influential mums

Rugged Traditionalists Traditional male values, love of outdoors.

Struggling Singles High aspirations, low economic status.

Settled Elders Devout, older, sedentary lifestyles.

Free Birds Vital, active, altruistic seniors.
Were these models appropriate?
Is your audience, in fact, much more specific
than this? How?
Message (institution)

theory is
with how Medium

What do these theories and
terminology mean to you?
Passive Active

Interactive Effects model

Uses and gratifications Reception


Dominant Negotiated
Passive or active audiences


•Audiences accept •Audiences are •Audiences influence
media messages involved in their media texts and
interpretations of create their own
•Audiences easily
media texts
influenced •Audiences discuss
•Audiences create meanings with each
•Do not make own
their own meanings other
use of texts or
interpret in own way •Audiences question •Audiences challenge
and respond to traditional media
institutions institutions
• Does your product engender a more active
role from the audience?

• Is there any interactivity encouraged?
– N.B. probably not unless it actively encourages
debate, possibly by being controversial or if you
used interactive features such as hashtags
G325 Q1B: Audience continued

L.O: To apply audience theories to
one of our productions
The Effects Model
• The consumption of media texts has an effect
or influence upon the audience
• It is normally considered that this effect is
• Audiences are passive and powerless to
prevent the influence
• The power lies with the message of the text
Is there anything in your production that could be passively received and
potentially have a negative effect on your audience? E.g. a violent scene? If so,
you can acknowledge the effects model but would have to present a counter-
argument to it as this is considered an outdated model.
The Uses and Gratifications Model
• The Uses and Gratifications Model is the
opposite of the Effects Model
• The audience is active
• The audience uses the text & is NOT used by it
• The audience uses the text for its own
gratification or pleasure
• These gratifications include certain generic
expectations we bring to the text
Uses & Gratifications
Blumler and Katz’s Uses and Gratifications Theory states
that people use media texts in different ways, for different

Unlike the Hypodermic needle model U and G theory argue
that it’s

“...not what does the media do to people,
but what do people do with the media”
The media text is enjoyable; an escape from
routine and problems; an emotional release
The media text is a source of information; a form
of education
Social Relationships
The media text is part of social life or is a
replacement for a social life.
Personal Identity
The media product reflects your own values, ideals
and hopes or lifestyle.
Semiotic Theory

Denotation: What can I see?
Connotation: What does this signify?
See additional sheet on semiotics for
more info and examples
• Iconic signs: which actually look like what they
• Symbolic/arbitrary signs: which have a meaning that
must be culturally learned because they don’t
actually look like what they represent.
• Indexical signs: which have a connection to what
they represent and are suggestive rather than
directly resembling what they represent.
"Pop stars are, to some extent symbolic
vehicles with which young women
understand themselves more fully, even,
if, by doing so, they partly shape their
personalities to fit the stars" alleged
Paul Willis, 1990

Do you agree with this statement?
Do you think it is a positive or a negative thing?
Reception Theory
• This considered how texts were encoded with meaning
by producers and then decoded (understood) by
• This theory extends the idea that we, as audiences,
view texts in different ways.
• Everybody brings different experiences to a text and
this may alter how the text is decoded.
• Our individual reading of a text can be affected by our
culture, gender, class, age etc.
• “Audiencehood is becoming an even more
multifaceted, fragmented and diversified repertoire of
practices and experiences.” Ien Ang
Media texts are polysemic
Potentially open to many interpretations
Class Past experiences


What could affect the reading of your text?


Lifestyle Beliefs

• Each written text provides a 'reading position'
for readers, a position constructed by the
writer for the 'ideal reader' of the text. (Kress
• Thus, embedded within texts are assumptions
about the 'ideal reader', including their
attitudes towards the subject matter and
often their class, age, gender and ethnicity.
How might an
demographic change
their reading
positions upon
seeing this image?



How have you constructed your text (e.g. micro features) to
encourage the dominant reading?
What negotiated or oppositional readings are there and why
might they occur?
The Culmination Theory
• One media text does not have too much
effect, but years and years of watching more
violence will make you less sensitive to
violence, and years and years of watching
women being mistreated in soaps will make
you less bothered about it in real life.
• Could your text be adding to the cultural
backdrop of certain issues, representations or
• How might audiences use your product?
• E.g. go to cinema with friends/a date, watch
on youtube, share on social networking?
Audience Idea Example Explanation Link

Audience classification

Uses & Gratifications


Screen theory

Audience positioning

Negotiated or
oppositional readings
Answer this question:

First, let’s look at the model. What mark do
you think it got?

Remember to DEFINE the concept using
media theory before you begin!
The examiner said…
This is a level 3 / level 4 borderline response
Level 4 qualities –coherence, range of useful
examples, ability to answer the question in sustained
manner, relating of theory to practice. The
understanding of Hall’s encoding / decoding model in
relation to own work. The discussion of ‘effects’ early
on is clear and relevant.

Level 3 qualities – the application of audience theories
(insufficiently developed for level 4 – eg the ‘use of’
Mulvey, in the same paragraph as the use of
questionnaires for feedback).
• Defining audiences by socioeconomic classifications is considered to be a
bit of a blunt and outdated tool. Many other methods of classifying
audiences have arisen that focus more on attitudes, values and lifestyle.
VALS is a particularly useful method of classification for our audience. We
conducted a survey of our core target audience of students and young
people and found that most of them were “experiencers” and “strivers”.
We also conducted a survey among our secondary audience of people in
their 30s, particularly people involved in education as they would enjoy
seeing the school location. These people turned out to be predominantly
“innovators”. This is probably due to their high level of education, status
and interest in ideas and concepts. Lifematrix was another lifestyle
classification that was useful for defining our audience. We feel our
audience would fall into the Tribe Wired and Fun/atics categories. Both
these audience categories would have a high level of engagement with the
digital world meaning there would be numerous opportunities for the
institution to target them through social media and viral campaigns.
Answer this question:

First, let’s look at the model. What mark do
you think it got?

Remember to DEFINE the concept using
media theory before you begin!
• http://media.edusites.co.uk/article/ocr-a-

• Mediaedu login: haverstockmedia
• Password: beginagain
• I will be applying audience theories to my AS film opening which
was a dystopian sci fi thriller set in a school. There are a number of
different ways to classify the target audience of my thriller. Using
socioeconomic classifications the majority of the target audience
would be students and thus category E. Students and young people
would enjoy consuming our text due to the recognisable location of
the school setting and the majority of the protagonists being young
like them. However, we have attempted to widen our potential
audience by including the characters of the male English teacher
and female Science teacher. By having these characters, older
members of the audience could identify with them and it would
help attract the desirable ABC1 categories of socio-economic
classification. Media institutions typically like to appeal to this
demographic because they have more disposable income to spend
on products and services.