Uses and gratifications theory

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  • Created by: Rhiiii
  • Created on: 05-10-14 17:18

Uses and gratifications theory

  • Sees the audience as active
  • Suggests that the audience use the media to satisfy certain needs
  • The audience actively consume a media text in order to get someting out of it
  • In 1974, two media theorists Blumer and Katz suggested that there are four reasons why audiences may chose a particular text
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1. Diversion

  • Also known as escapism - it suggests that we use the media in order to escape from the routine and stress of our daily lives
  • Can work for positive texts such as a happy film ending which cheers us up and helps us to forget our problems
  • Can work for negative texts such as tragic situations in soap operas which helps us to put our problems into perspective
  • The diversion model also accounts for relaxation - we slump in front of the tv and don't really care what's on


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2. Personal relationships

  • Also known as social interaction
  • We form a relationship with the media by using it as companionship - according to many theorists, we tend to know more about the characters we see than we do about our own neighbours
  • We can use the media to form relationships with other people by using it as a form of communication (e.g. Social networking) - this includes using the media as a talking point or stimulus for conversation 
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3. Personal identity

  • Suggests we use the media to find out who we are and to position ourselves in society
  • Many media texts use a variety of characters that we can relate to and aspire to be like or unlike
  • Characters in the media help an audiene to express their own feelings and opinions more easily
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4. Surveillence

  • Based on the idea that people feel better by knowing what is going on in the world around us
  • The surveillence model is about awareness - we use the media to be more aware of the world by gratifying a desire for knowledge
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Criticisms

  • The theory suggests that the media producers hold no responsibility for the effect their products have on an audience - the effect is dependent on the reciever rather than the intended message
  • The theory doesn't account for the fact that different cultures will use the media differently
  • The theory ignores the fact that the media can have an unconscious effect on our lives and behaviour
  • Suggests that the audience have a free will to decide how they will use the media and therefore how it will effect them
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