New media and photography theory – Week 7 2013
In this week’s lecture we discussed what the audience do with media, rather than the audience being a concept like last week. We discussed the way that audience can manipulate the forms media for their own satisfaction and purpose. We also used the active vs passive theory by Stuart Hall to help us understand the developments in audience theory.
Key theorists in this week’s lecture were Stuart Hall, Raymond Williams and Katz and Blumler. They all have made vital arguments in theorising the different ways in which an audience can consume the media. Moving on from popular and mass culture media effects, we considered the idea that audience consume media to their own uses and gratifications (Katz and Blumler in Long, P 2012:304). Webster also moves away from the effects models and begins to think about the other forms of consumerism “the “marketplace model”, casts people in the role of consumers who enter the marketplace and selects the products that suit their tastes” (Webster, J 1994:27). An example of the audience pursuing their uses and gratifications in photography would be using images that represent their personal identity, such as a smiley face or a football. This moves furthermore onto the idea that groups of people with collective uses and gratifications become a sub-culture or a fandom. (Long and Wall. 2012:314)
Uses and gratifications explores the idea that we as audiences can positively influence our personal media experiences (Lull in Long, P 2012:305) To do this, we have to become active audiences. Rather than the media coming to the audience, Webster explores the marketplace model as the audience coming to the media, knowledgeable of their preferences and therefore chooses specific products (Webster, J 1994:27). In this context, an audience member would seek out a fashion photographer’s work as they prefer that genre. They would not look for landscape photography if that was the case.
The marketplace model and Stuart Hall’s active audience theory share the same key concepts. They evoke the thought that audiences have increasingly more power over the producers. Webster implies that future developments will occur “it is for such an environment that the laws of supply and demand seem best suited” (Webster, J 1994:34)
To further research into the subject of what the audience do with the media I would conduct an ethnographic study of a fandom. I would emerge myself into the culture of becoming a fan and report on my findings. I would conduct interviews with fans, talk about their relationship with the media producers for their product, observe events and habits of a fan with the aim to interpreting the meaning of fandom.
Long, P and Wall, T (2012) Media Studies: Texts, Production, Context (2nd Edition), London:Pearson.
Webster, J. and Phalen, P.. (1994). Victim, consumer or commodity?. In: Ettema, J. and Whitney, C. Audiencemaking. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. p19-37.