CMN 1160: Lecture #5 Feb 7 2012
Uses and Gratification:
how technology is perceived from these theories
theories role and function of media
stands from functionalism
it looks as the individual as more powerful than the media
we select the messages and filter them
the role of the media according the school of thought media is there in order to make in functional where
everyone is happy, media has to keep the consumers happy.
Asks the question: how and why people use the media
Starts with the point of the individual not the message
Uses and gratification takes the point of view of the individual , every person has psychological needs, and
we satisfy these needs by using different parts of the media.
The classic functionalism of Lazarsfeld insisted on the sociological aspects of functionalism rather than
New variant of functionalism that concentrates exclusively on the psychological aspects: uses and
The essential traits of functionalism: a functionalist envisions every institutionnotably the media intuitions
as being dependent on the desires and needs of the individual.
So, if the media exist, it is strictly to respond to our needs.
If they did not respond to out needs, they would disappear.
In this view, the contemporary American society is the best way to respond to a maximum number of
It constitutes then the achievement of each society a model to which all societies aspire.
Because of this optimistic vison of social formations, functionalism tends to ignore critical approaches.
It simply confirms that society results from the necessity to respond to human needs. Adopting the point of view of the individual and not that of the media
The fundamental question that is ask is: why and how do we use oe do we consume the media?
We use the media because they offer us functional equivalents to human interaction.
According to uses and gratifications, we use the media as sources of entertainment and information.
But also in order to respond to subjective states such as sadness, loneliness etc.
Double dependency of the media:
The media depend on the favors of the consumers who can always reject them, resist them
the media also depends on the global quality of life of consumers
the media does not function without advertisements.
The functionalism of uses and gratification displaced personal contacts toward the uses and gratifications,
meaning towards the quality of consumption life.
We communicate through commodities an consumption.
We investigate no more how we resist the media but what incites us to use the media.
we move away from the rational individual and the autonomous individual and we start asking under what
conditions the individual loses his rationality and autonomy.
Functionalism of uses and gratification suggests that the autonomy of the consumer can let itself be
trapped easily by the seduction of the media: could it just be a technique of management of capitalism that
functions to retrieve our personal preferences for the benefit of the media?
Is it possible that the affirmation of our freedom and rationality is nothing but an ideological statement
destined to mask a reality that is totally different?
These questions lead to the belief, for some theorists that the media distract us from real issues in social
and political life. Therefore, we do not exercise our citizenship and democracy is just an illusion
Functional equivalents: The functionalism of uses and gratifications examines the first personality of the consumer.