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Media Audiences

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University of British Columbia
SOCI 100
Debra Pentecost

Nov 21, 2012 Media Audiences The Hypodermic Needle Theory - Linear communication theory - Direct and powerful influence - Passive audience Audience Effects: Q: what do the media do to people? Hypodermic needle - Audience injected with message - Linear cause and effect relationship Current media examples: War of the Worlds radio reading, video games affect school shootings Problems with Perspective - Difficult to isolate effects of media - Other social influences act on people (e.g. gender roles, social class) - Studies show variety of responses - Not uniform "mass effects" Cultural Studies Q: what do people do with the media? - Stuart Hall: Encoding and Decoding o Values & identities encoded into media products o Audiences decode messages o Negotiating meaning - 3 Audience Positions (Stuart Hall) o Dominant (agree with POV) o Negotiated (some part of POV is ok, some parts is questioned) o Opposition (disagree with POV) Active Audience Theory - Reject hypodermic needle approach - Argue media content has "preferred meaning" -- favored through structure - Viewers not blank slates - They are active agents of interpretation & criticism Limitations of Active Audience - By focusing on micro choices made in interpretation, we lose sight of macro structures shaping overall agenda Balanced Media Analysis - Acknowledge power of meanings inscribed by media producers - Recognize how meanings challenged and changed in act of reception Violence in the Media Learning from the Media? - Relationship between simulated violence and actions/beliefs - Does media violence promote real-life violence? - Do media representations act as "models" -- to be acted upon in right circumstances? Copy-cat crimes - e.g. Natural Born Killers - School shooting - Columbine - Concerns about "vulnerable" audiences (Children
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