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COMM 3P18 – MIDTERM TEST.docx

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Department
Communication Studies
Course
COMM 3P18
Professor
Marian Bredin
Semester
Fall

Description
1 COMM 3P18 – MIDTERM TEST COMM 3P18 – Sept 16, 2013 Core Concepts Debates & Approaches to Studying Audiences **Think about ourselves in relation to particular texts throughout the course This week: 1. What is an audience? 2. Why do audiences matter? 3. Historical Debates 4. Contemporary Issues Seminar presentations - Link the research project to the reading we sign up for – bring an artifact What is an audience? (1)  Inglis: - “The public is defined by conventional media theory as audience, and an audience only listens.” (What is means when we are defined only as an audience that does not participate) - “To cast a society as consumers is to see its members as creatures to be fed, housed and kept quiet.” (Consumerism is prevalent but also problematic to be only considered a consumer) What is an audience: Definition A  A mass of undifferentiated people who are anonymous to the producer of the mediated message(s) and become a collective of unorganized individuals centered on the use or exposure to a particular media text. What is an audience: Definition B  A network of people who have the potential to interact with one another about a particular object of interest in the media. Whether you agree with A or B: - Either way, audiences are studied as collectives, aggregates of individuals; an individual when studied is more typically referred to as an audience member or media user. Why Study Audience (2)  To understand markets - Audiences are a commodity - Facebook has advertisements that are related to us ** 2 - Recognize that you can have great advertising campaign but not sell. People make their own meaning  Demographics  Appropriation of texts  Fandom - Practices of meaning that take place - Huge conventions that bring people together who are like minded  Circuit How do audiences create meaning from texts? How are they affected by texts? Audiences can be seen as: 1. More passively being affected by the media [effects theory] or changed over time as a result of exposure to the media [cultivation theory] - Example: anorexia from thin models in the media etc. 2. Receiving texts [reception theory] actively, having power over the messages they receive. - Shift some of the power back to us as individuals and have a choice of how we take things from the media. Historical Debates (3)  End of WWI - Propaganda as weapon - “The public” as vulnerable, perusable and ‘at risk’ - Germany lost the “paper war” (Because the allies took pamphlets and dropped them behind enemy lines – it swayed opinion) - Dropping of British propaganda leaflets behind enemy lines (devastation of German moral) - Fear that “the public” was easily controllable by an elite group of skilled manipulators - Concern with rise of “charismatic” dictators in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s - “Mass society” thesis (discussed last week)  Continued through WWII - Rise of government censorship - Hays Code (Film) - Banned books - Overall – we began to question the relationship between the newly forming mass media, and the audiences who consume this media  1950’s - Rise of TV in 1950s - 9% of American homes had TV’s in them - In the span of a decade we went from 9% to 91% - Print media important (newspapers, magazines, etc.) - Concern with power of media to sway the minds of Americans - “Objective” scientific models needed 3 - Academics began to explore “Direct effects” model –Lasswell (“The structure and function of communication in society”) - Who says What is which channel to Whom with What effect? (Lasswell) - Quantifiable focus on efficiency of communication - The problem of course…  Second Red Scare 1950-1954 - Entertainment industry under deep suspicion of “Un-American” activities - Blacklisting for (unproven( belief systems - House Committee on Un-American Activities reported as early as 1938 that communism was rampant in Hollywood - Underlying all of this, of course, is effects theory… How to measure effects?  Lazarsfeld, Merton etc. begin to examine cause/effect relationship between media and society  But…  Less direct than we think  Answer: Correlation does not equal cause!! (Bobo) Correlation: A mutual relationship or connection between two or more things. “Two-step slow of information” – Lazarsfeld’s revision (The mass media doesn’t inject ideas, rather was filtered through opinion leaders) 1. Opinion leaders get information from a media source 2. Opinion leaders then pass the info, along with their interpretation to others (friends, family, etc. )  Opera is a major opinion leader  There are a small number of people who produce most of the tweets. Half of them come from a very small number of people. Even in social media where information is flat – there are still gate keepers and opinion leaders who cultivate (shape) public opinion Effects are not easy to find  “Although no doubt there are effects of the mass media, it is almost impossible to isolate them.” (Inglis, 141) What we learned  “Objective” science doesn’t work  Can’t turn subjects into objects  People think for themselves  How do we even measure how we know stuff and acquire our feelings and opinions about things? What questions would you ask? Can you even ask those questions? (You cannot measure how you feel about things)  But the ghosts of ‘effects’ research still haunt…. 4  Example of a huge uproar of Miley’s behavior - “Shocking” “Perverse” “Raunchy” - “Our children were exposed to this” - These are pervasive myths (violence, sexuality on TV) - But questions arise, right? - Is this her free expression? Is she manipulating the audience? - Maybe she did want to act like that, but didn’t realize what could happen from her actions. - Maybe she wanted to start a new narrative for herself and become appealing to an older audience rather than the kids. - ANTI-Hannah Montana Questions to think about:  What is the balance between manipulation and expression?  To what extent do people make their narratives for themselves, and to what extent are they pushed about by the producers of narratives for their own ends?  And one more, “If media effects theory is out, why are we so worried about Miley?” Since 1980’s  Rise of cultural studies  Interdisciplinary studies  Emergence of qualitative research paradigms  Focus on the interplay between media and audiences  “Interpretive” relationship – agency of individuals, while at the same time recognizing the political and economic ‘structures’ that enable and constrain the production of media content (tries to balance structure and agency) o Almost celebratory response to media - Focus on individual meaning - How audiences interact and respond to texts in different ways (See Stuart Hall next week for closer examination) o From mass culture to popular culture, and discussions of taste pleasure etc. Contemporary issues (4) A) Meaning - Vague understanding of what meaning actually means - Three “levels” of meaning therefore… 1. Primary signification of word/image/sequence - Example: Denotation (literal image a sign refers to) 2. Secondary signification of work/image/sequence - Example: Connotation (cultural assumptions, emotive) 3. Generalized significance attached by viewers 5 - Example: “Preferred” or “dominant” reading B) Genre  Too little focus on genre, wherein “Television” is referred to (for example) as a singular thing (same for film, radio)  But there are different genres for film, TV, radio, publishing  Key differences between fiction and non-fiction television - News shows vs. drama vs. soap vs. reality TV  “Imaginative pleasure” of fictional V – meaning lots of work has studies the pleasures of TV watching, but miss key concepts such as perception comprehension and understanding  But how “true” is the news – is all TV performance? C) Context  Socially situated  The geographical, cultural, economic, social, political (etc.) situation in which media are produced and consumed  Both on the individual and societal level  Two contextual realms: 1. Social relations: “objective” demographic variables (age, class, gender), cultural competence (familiarity with codes and conventions of the genre) 2. Space/time settings: When and where we consume texts matters (public vs. private, etc.) Next week: Closer look at reception theory Stuart Hall/cultural studies How to use the reception paradigm COMM 3P18 – Sept 23, 2013 Audiences and Cultural Studies Today: 1. What is Culture? 2. Language and discourse 3. Individuals vs. subjects 4. Interpreting Texts 5. Becoming Audiences 1. What is culture?  Raymond Williams is the dude… 6  Culture is ordinary 1. A whole way of life 2. Individual creative expression  Cultural studies, therefore, concerns the meanings that shape, and are shaped by our interrelations with other texts, social structures etc. - He is saying texts shape who we are and we shape what the texts are. We think back to our texts.  Focus on how we make meaning – about how we construct our identities and subjectivities in industrial societies - No matter what – text is a part of our economic life Culture is also about power  Arising during social upheaval in 1960s & identity politics  Understands culture as a site of struggle between those with and those without power  Links language & discourse, media and the cultivation of the human subject An example of culture as site of struggle over meaning (and power) - Put a homophobic slur under his eyes during a baseball game - “It’s a word without meaning” - “I didn’t mean to offend anybody” - To many Cubans it is a word WITH meaning - WHAT TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS EXAMPLE:  The power of words (language)  The circulation of discourse (Masculinity, sexuality)  Operating in the “circuit of culture” (Hall) Circuit of culture (Don’t have to memorize) - Representation - Regulation - Consumption - Production - Identity 2. Languages and Discourse  Language: A human system of communication that uses arbitrary signals such as a voice sounds, gestures or written symbols.  Discourse: So where as language is the collective formulation o words, images and gestures, discourse is how we order and make meaning out of that language. - “A system of representation that as developed socially in order to make and circulate a coherent set of meanings about an important topic area. These meanings serve the interests of that section of society within which the discourse originates and which works ideologically to naturalize those meanings into c
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