Media Theories


Uses and Gratification Theory

Blumer and Katz's Uses and Gratification Theory states that media consumers choose texts which fulfill one or more of these needs:

- the need to be informed or educated about the world they live in.

- the need to personally identify with characters and situations in order to learn more about themselves.

The need to be entertained by a variety and range of well-constructed media texts

- The need to use the media as a talking point for social interaction or discussion

- The need to escape from the 'daily grind' into other worlds and situations

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Audience Reception Theory

This work was based on Stuart Hall's encoding/decoding model of the relationship between text and audience. He discusses how the consumer's own individual circumstances affect how they decode a text. Media producers closely target their audience with codes and conventions which will satisy audience expectations

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Pick and Mix Theory

This is another theory that understands that audiences are active rather than passive. David Gauntlett suggests that audiences use texts to satisfy their needs. They pick the bits that suit them and simply disregard the rest. Gauntlett focuses on the way in which magazines and advertisements attract and represent their audiences.

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Tzvetan Todorov's Narrative Stages

Todorov's 5 Narrative Stages:

- Equilibrium

the setting is established, key character(s) are introduced and the storyline is set up.

- Disruption

oppositional character(s) appear and the story takes a particular direction

- Recognition of disruption

the lives of characters and events are interwoven. Tension builds throughout this section, which is often the longest.

- Attempt to repair disruption

the highest point of tension, after which there is a change in dynamic.

- Reinstatment of Equilibrium

matters are sorted out, problems are solved and questions answered.

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Claude Levi-Strauss Binary Opposition

In 400BC, Aristotle said that 'all drama is conflict' - Levi-Strauss built on this theory.

Binary opposition

Some opposites that might crop up in a film:

- good and evil

- light and darkness

- noise and silence

- strength and weakness

- past and present

- human and alien

- love and hate

- powerful and helpless

- rich and poor

- old and young

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Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Human psychologist, Abraham Maslow, says our actions are motivated in order to achieve certain needs. This concept was first introduced in his paper, 'A Theory of Human Motivation', in 1943.

His hierarchy of needs suggests that people are motivated to achieve basic needs before moving onto more advances needs. The orignal hierarchy of needs, five stage model included:

Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex and sleep.

Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability

Social needs - feelings of belonging and love, family, affection and relationships.

Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibilty

Self-Actualisation needs - realising personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

Maslows theory is presented in a pyramid, with basic needs at the bottom and advanced needs at the top.

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