BSc Communications, Media & Society



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The Study of Media Audiences
Handbook

BSc Communications, Media & Society



Course Description

A popular view of mass media audiences renders them “couch potatoes” who passively consume whatever media fare is placed in their lap. Underpinning such a view of the audience are long standing assumptions that the mass of ordinary people are “cultural dopes” unable to resist the pervasive power of media. Challenging this thinking, others have argued for a more celebratory view of the media audience. Thus, in place of a naive and vulnerable audience (in the singular) we encounter audiences (in the plural) who are able to resist media power in creative, pleasurable and meaningful ways. These conflicting accounts of the media audience(s) take us to the heart of issues concerning e.g. the impact of media ‘effects’. Yet despite decades of mass communication research there is little agreement on the nature and extent of mass media influence. To this can be added the problem of defining who or what are media audiences? And how do we study their behaviour? Should we aim to understand the individual differences, or search for human universals? Or maybe a combination of all of the above? The course will build on interdisciplinary work on media audiences in order to develop a critical interest in our own personal and collective relationship with media forms.


Course Aims

The aim of this one semester course is to provide an introductory guide to important theoretical and methodological concerns that have influenced audience studies alongside some of the seminal work on the persuasive power of media. More specifically, it aims:




  1. To provide an overview of the development of research about audiences from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present;

  2. To consider changing approaches to understanding media audiences alongside changing views of society;

  3. To explore the debates surrounding mass media power and influence; and

  4. To introduce research carried out by media academics to understand audiences.


Course Objectives

By the end of the module, the student should be able to demonstrate:



  • knowledge and understanding of theoretical approaches to the study of media audiences;

  • knowledge and understanding of media audiences within a socio-historical context;

  • an ability to critically analyse a range of theories and approaches to media influence and power


Assessment

  1. 40% of the marks for this course come from the coursework assignments (2x1500-2000 word essays),

  2. 50% from an examination at the end of the module (2 hours)

  3. 10% from a seminar presentation.

Essay Questions

Draw on at least two theorists, not listed in the core readings of this module in your answer for each question.




  1. Examine the theoretical and methodological problems associated with viewing the media in terms of effects? Discuss in relevance to research.

  2. Discuss the concept of “powerful media” as developed by the mass audience theory. In which assumptions is it based? What has been its contribution to the development of media audiences’ research?

  3. What is the contribution of ‘cultural indicators’ research to our understanding of the media-audience relationship? How relevant is it today?

  4. ‘Media violence is a significant cause of social violence.’ Discuss this statement and make a case for whether it is true or false.

  5. What do scholars within the Cultural Studies tradition mean when they say that media audiences are active? In which ways can audiences be active? Discuss with reference to research.

  6. Develop, discuss and critique the role of the everyday context in media consumption. How does the home environment affect the activities and interpretations of media audiences?

  7. What is the significance of the commercial measuring and tracking of the audiences in the overall academic study of the audiences? Discuss with reference to research.

  8. In what ways are race and ethnicity significant in the production and/or consumption of media messages?

  9. How has knowledge of ‘fandom’ and fan activities have contributed to our understanding of media audiences? Discuss with reference to research.

  10. Drawing on relevant research critically discuss how new media have blurred the lines between media consumers and producers.



Key Texts


  1. Alasuutari, P. (1999) Rethinking the Media Audience, London: Sage

  2. Boyd-Barret, O. & Newbold, C. (eds.) (1995) Approaches to Media, London: Arnold

  3. Brooker, W. & Jermyn, D. (eds.) (2003) The Audience Studies Reader, London: Routledge.

  4. Moores, S. (1993) Interpreting Audiences, London: Sage

  5. Tulloch, J. (2000) Watching Television Audiences: Cultural Theories and Methods, London: Arnold

  6. Ruddock, A. (2001) Understanding Audiences: Theory and Method, London: Sage.


Syllabus

Week by week overview of topics:

Week 1 - Introduction to Media Audiences


Week 2 - Early Audience Research – The Effects Tradition
Week 3 - The scary world of television: Cultural Indicators & Cultivation theory
Week 4 - From Screen Violence to Real Violence?
Week 5 - Cultural Studies and the Audience
Week 6 - The Audience at Home: Audience, Domesticity and Gender
Week 7 - Measuring Audiences: The Role of the Media Industry
Week 8 - Race, Identity and Media Consumption
Week 9 - Audiences, Fans and Fandom
Week 10 - New Media Audiences: Interactivity and Fragmentation


Week 1 - Introduction to Media Audiences


This lecture is a general introduction to various themes and issues that have influenced audience studies over the years. It aims to establish the study of media audiences in a wider historical and socio-cultural perspective.

Core Reading





  1. Abercrombie, N. and Longhurst, B. (1998) Audiences, chapters 1 and 2, pp. 3-76.




  1. Blumler, J. (1995) ‘Mass communication research in Europe: some origins and prospects’ in Boyd-Barrett, O. and Newbold, C. (eds.) Approaches to Media, pp. 33-42.




  1. Halloran, J.D. (1995) ‘The context of mass communication research’ in Boyd-Barrett, O. and Newbold, C. (eds.) Approaches to Media, pp. 43-53.


Supplementary Reading





  1. Bruhn Jensen, K. and Rosengren, K.E. (1995) ‘Five traditions in search of the audience’ in Boyd-Barrett, O. and Newbold, C. (eds.) Approaches to Media: A Reader, London: Arnold, pp. 174-183.




  1. Chomsky, N. (1971) ‘On Interpreting the World’, in Problems of Knowledge and Freedom: the Russell Lectures, New York: Vintage Books.




  1. Deacon, D., Pickering, M., Golding, P., Murdock, G. (1999) ‘Asking Questions’, Researching Communications: A Practical Guide to Methods in Media and Cultural Analysis, London: Arnold.




  1. Feyerband, P. (1981) Problems of Empiricism, Cambridge:
    Cambridge University Press.




  1. Gitlin, T. (1995) ‘Media sociology: the dominant paradigm’ in Boyd-Barrett, O. and Newbold, C. (eds.) Approaches to Media: A Reader, London: Arnold, pp. 21-32.




  1. Golding, P. and Murdock, G. ‘Theories of Communication and Theories of Society’ in Communication Research, Vol.5, no.3, July 1978, pp. 339-356.




  1. McQuail, D. (1997) ‘A Concept With a History’ and ‘The Audience in Communication Theory and Research’ in Audience Analysis, London: Sage, pp. 1-11 and pp. 12-24.




  1. McQuail, D. (2005) ‘Audience theory and research traditions’ Mass Communication Theory: an introduction, London: Sage, 5th edition, pp. 395-418.




  1. Murdock, G. (2002) ‘Media, culture and modern times: social science investigations’ in Jensen, K. B. (ed) A Handbook of Media and Communication Research, Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies, London: Routledge, pp. 40-57.




  1. Ruddock, A. (2001) ‘Questions of Theory and Method’, in Understanding Audiences, London: Sage


Week 2 - Early Audience Research – The Effects Tradition

This lecture focuses on early perspectives concerning mass society and mass media culture. In doing so, a number of well-established traditions in mass communication research are introduced. It also identifies the principal routes via which media and communications studies have approached the long-standing question of media ‘influence’ and ‘effects’.



Core Reading

Boyd-Barrett, O. (1995) ‘Early theories in media research’ in Boyd-Barrett, O. and Newbold, C. (eds.) Approaches to Media, pp. 68-76.




  1. Corner, J. (2000) ‘Influence: The contested core of media research’ in Curran, J. and Gurevitch, M. (eds) Mass Media and Society, pp. 376-397. (3rd Edition)




  1. Cumberbatch, G. (1998) ‘Media effects: the continuing controversy’ in Briggs, A. and Cobley, P. (eds) The Media: An Introduction, pp. 262-274.




  1. Hardt, H. (1995) ‘On ignoring history: mass communication research and the critique of society’ in Boyd-Barret, O. and Newbold, C. (eds.) Approaches to Media, pp. 8-20.


Supplementary Reading





  1. DeFleur, M. and Ball-Rockeach, S. ‘Mass society and the Magic Bullet Theory’ in their book, Theories of Mass Communication, pp. 145-167.




  1. Elliott, P. (1974) ‘Uses and Gratifications Research: A critique and a sociological perspective’ in Blumler, J. and Katz, E. (eds.) The Uses of Mass Communication: Current Perspectives on Gratifications Research, pp. 249-268.




  1. Lowery, S.A. and DeFleur, M. ‘Audiences for daytime radio serials: uses and gratifications’ in their book, Milestones in Mass Communication Research, pp. 93-113.




  1. Jensen, KB (2002) ‘Media Effects: quantitative traditions’ in Jensen, KB (Ed): Quantitative and Qualitative Methodologies, pp. 138-155.




  1. Lowery, S.A. and DeFleur, M. ‘The Invasion From Mars: Radio Panics America’ in Milestones in Mass Communication Research, pp. 45-67.




  1. McQuail, D. (1987) ‘Concepts and Definitions’ in his book Mass Communication Theory: An Introduction, pp. 27-47, (Note: 2nd Edition).




  1. McQuail, D. (1984) ‘With the Benefit of Hindsight: Reflections on the Uses and Gratifications Research’ in Dickinson, R. et al. (eds.) Approaches to Audiences, pp. 151-165.




  1. Swingewood, A (1977) ‘The Theory of Mass Society’ in his book, The Myth of Mass Culture.




  1. Shearon, L.A. and DeFleur, M.L. ‘Research as a basis for understanding mass communication’ in Milestones in Mass Communication Research, pp. 1-19.




  1. Shils, E. (1995) ‘Mass Society and its culture’ in Boyd-Barrett, O. and Newbold, C. (eds.) Approaches to Media, pp. 81-86.




  1. Wilensky, H.L. (1995) ‘Mass society and mass culture: interdependence or independence? In Boyd-Barrett, O. and Newcomb, C. (eds.) Approaches to Media, pp. 87-92.




  1. Williams, R. (1983) extract on ‘Masses’ in his book Keywords.


Week 3 - The scary world of television: Cultural Indicators & Cultivation theory

This session introduces the theory and methodology of cultural indicators research. The work of George Gerbner and his associates on the effects of television audience attitudes, beliefs and behaviour offers a comprehensive counter to the discourse of effects research.



Core Reading





  1. Gerbner, G. ‘Towards “Cultural Indicators”: The Analysis of Mass Mediated Message Systems’ in in Boyd-Barrett, O. and Newcomb, C. (eds) Approaches to Media, pp. 144-152.




  1. Ruddock, A. (2001) Cultivation analysis. In Ruddock, A. Understanding audiences. Theory and method London: Sage Publications, pp97 - 115




  1. Wober, J.M. (1998) ‘Cultural Indicators: European reflections on a research paradigm’ in Dickinson, R. et al. (eds) Approaches to audiences London: Arnold pp 61-73.



Supplementary Reading





  1. Gerbner, G. and Gross, L. (1976) ‘Living with Television: The Violence Profile’ in Journal of Communication, Vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 173-199.




  1. Gerbner, G. et al. (1980) ‘The “Mainstreaming” of America: Violence Profile No. 11’ Journal of Communication, Vol. 30, no.3, pp. 10-29.




  1. Newcomb, H. (1980) ‘Assessing the Violence Profile of Gerbner and Gross: A Humanistic Critique and Suggestion’, in Communication Research, 5(3), 1978, pp. 264-282. Reprinted in Wilhoit, C. and de Bock, H. (eds) (1980) Mass Communication Review Yearbook, Vol. 1.




  1. Hirsch, P. (1980) ‘The “Scary World” of the non-viewer and other anomalies: A research analysis of Gerbner et al’s findings of cultivation analysis’, Communication Research, Vol.7 (4), pp. 403-456.




  1. Morgan, M and Signorelli, N. (1990) ‘Cultivation Analysis: Conceptualisation and Methodology’ in Signorelli, N. and Morgan, N. (eds.) Cultivation Analysis: New Directions in Media Effects Research.




  1. Murdock, G. (1994) Visualising violence: television and the discourse of disorder. In Hamelink, C. and Linne, O. (eds) Mass communication research: on problems and policies Norwood, NJ: Ablex pp. 171-187.




  1. Signorelli, N. (1990) ‘Television’s Mean and Dangerous World: A Continuation of the Cultural Indicators Perspective’ in Signorelli, N. and Morgan, M. (eds) Cultivation Analysis: New Directions in Media Effects Research.




  1. Shanahan, J & Morgan, M (1999) Television and its viewers. Cultivation theory and research Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Week 4 - From Screen Violence to Real Violence?

One of the most debated and investigated topics in communications and media is the question of the effects of screen violence. Does media violence contribute towards social violence? This lecture will question the direct correlation between the two by assessing the research undertaken on this issue.



Core Reading





  1. Buckingham, D. (1998) ‘Children and television: a critical overview of the research’ in Dickinson, R. et al. (eds) Approaches to Audiences’, pp 131-145.




  1. Linne, O. and Wartella, E. (1998) ‘Research about violence in the media: different traditions and changing paradigms’ in Dickinson, R. et al. (eds.) Approaches to Audiences, pp. 104-119.




  1. Murdock, G. (1997) ‘Reservoirs of Dogma’ in Barker, M. and Petley, J. (eds.) Ill Effects. The Media and Violence Debate, pp. 67-124.




  1. Potter, W. J. (2003) The 11 Myths of Media Violence. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage



Supplementary Reading





  1. Barker, Martin (ed.) (1984) The Video Nasties: Freedom and Censorship in the Media, Pluto Press: London.




  1. Barker, M. (1997) ‘The Newsom Report: A Case Study in “Common Sense”’, in M. Barker and J. Petley (eds.), Ill Effects: The Media/Violence Debate, 1st Edition London: Routledge, pp. 12-31.




  1. Buckingham, D. (1998) ‘Children and television: a critical overview of the research’ in Dickinson, R. et al. (eds.) Approaches to Audiences, pp 131-145.




  1. Buckingham, D. (1996) Moving Images: Understanding children’s emotional responses to television. See Chapters 2-4, pp. 19-138.




  1. Cohen, Stanley (2002) Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers, 3rd Edition, London: Routledge.




  1. Critcher, Chas (2003) Moral Panics and the Media, Buckingham: Open University Press.




  1. Farrar, K. M., Krcmar, M., & Nowak, K. L. (2006) Contextual features of violent video games, mental models and aggression. Journal of Communication, 56(2), 387-405. [see also the references section of this paper which provides a list of other relevant published works]




  1. Gauntlett, D. (2005) Moving Experiences: Understanding Television’s Influences and Effects, Chapters 1, 2 & 3, pp. 1-48, Chapter 10 143-152.




  1. Gunter, B., Harrison, J., & Wykes, M. (2003) Violence on Television: Distribution, Form, Content and Themes. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates




  1. Harris, Jessica (2001) The Effects of Computer Games On Young Children – A Review of the Research, RDS Occasional Paper, No. 72, London: Home Office, Research, Development and Statistics Directorate. – available online.




  1. Howitt, D and Cumberbatch, G (1989). Mass Media, Violence and Society.




  1. Lodziak, C. (1986) The Power of Television, Chapter 1.




  1. Murdock, G and McCron, R. (1979) ‘The Television and Delinquency Debate’ in Screen Education, pp. 51-68.




  1. Newson, E. (1994) ‘Video Violence and the Protection of Children’, Report of the Home Affairs Committee, 29 June, pp. 45-49. Also available in the Journal of Mental Health, 3, pp. 221-226.




  1. Pearson, G. (1984) ‘Falling Standards: A Short, Sharp History of Moral Decline’, in Martin Barker (ed.), The Video Nasties: Freedom and Censorship in the Media, London: Pluto Press: 88-103.




  1. Philo, G. (1999) ‘Children and film/video/TV violence’ in Philo, G. (ed.) Message Received, pp. 35-53.




  1. Potter, W. J. (1999) On Media Violence. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage




  1. Vine, I. (1997) ‘The dangerous psycho-logic of media effects’ in Barker, M. and Petley, J. Ill Effects, pp. 125-146.




  1. Von Feilitzen, C. (1995) Media violence: four research perspectives’ in Dickinson, R. et al. (eds.) Approaches to Audiences, pp. 88-103.




  1. Williams, R (1974) ‘Effects of the technology and its uses’ in Television: Technology and Cultural Form, pp. 119-134. Also found in Corner, J and Hawthorn, J. (eds.) Communication Studies: an introductory reader, pp. 174-186.


Week 5 - Cultural Studies and the Audience

This lecture explores the relationship between media representations and the interpretations of the audience. It aims to introduce cultural studies’ “challenge” to the study of mass media audiences.



Core Reading





  1. Carey, J.W. (1995) ‘Mass communication and cultural studies’ in Boyd-Barrett, O. and Newbold, C. (eds.) Approaches to Media, pp. 365-373.




  1. Fiske, J. (1998) ‘Television: polysemy and popularity’ in Dickinson, R. et al. Approaches to Audiences, pp. 194-204.




  1. Hall, S. (1974) ‘Encoding, Decoding’ in During, S. (ed.) The Cultural Studies Reader, 368-381. Also available in Hall, S. et al. (eds.) Culture, Media, Language, pp. 128-38.



Supplementary Reading





  1. Abercrombie, N and Longhurst, B. (1998) Audiences: A Sociological Theory of Performance and Imagination, London: Sage.




  1. Ang, I. (1989) ‘Wanted: Audiences. On the Politics of Empirical Audience Studies’, E. Seiter, H. Borchers, G. Kruetzner and E.-M. Warth (eds.) Remote Control: Television, Audiences and Cultural Power, London: Routledge.




  1. Carey, J.W. (1995) ‘Communication and Culture’, Communication Research 2: 173-91.




  1. Corner, J. ‘Meaning, genre and context’ in James Curran and Michael Gurevitch (eds), Mass Media and Society, pp 267-284.




  1. Curran, J. (1995) ‘The new revisionism in mass communication research: a reassessment’ in Boyd-Barrett, O. and Newcomb, C. (eds.) Approaches to Media: A Reader, London: Arnold, pp. 505-511.




  1. Fiske, J. (1998) ‘Television: polysemy and popularity’ in Dickinson, R. et al. Approaches to Audiences, pp. 194-204




  1. Hermes, Joke (2002) ‘The Active Audience’, in P. Cobley and A. Briggs (eds.), The Media: An Introduction, Harlow: Pearson: 282-293.




  1. Jensen, J. and Pauly, J.J. (1997) ‘Imagining the Audience: Losses and Gains in Cultural Studies’ in Ferguson, M. and Golding, P. (eds.) Cultural Studies in Question, pp. 155-169.




  1. Jensen, K. B (2002) ‘Media reception: qualitative traditions’ in K. B. Jensen (ed.) A Handbook of Media and Communication Research, London: Routledge, pp. 138-155.




  1. Kubey, R. (1997) ‘On not finding media effects’ in Hay, J. (et al.) (eds) The Audience and its Landscape.




  1. McGuigan, J. (1992) ‘Trajectories of cultural populism’ in Cultural Populism, London: Routledge, pp. 45-88.




  1. Morley, D. (1980) The Nationwide Audience: Television, Audiences and Cultural Studies.




  1. Moores, S. (1992) ‘Texts, readers and contexts of reading’ in Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 12, pp. 9-29. Also available in Scannell, P. et al. (eds) Culture and Power, pp. 137-157.




  1. Moores, S. (1993) ‘Ideology, Subjectivity and Decoding’ in his book Interpreting Audiences, pp. 11-53.




  1. Nightingale, V. (1996) ‘Encoding, Decoding’ in her book Studying Audiences: The Shock of the Real, pp. 21-39.




  1. Stevenson, N. (1996) ‘Critical Perspectives within Audience Research’ in his book Understanding Media Cultures, pp. 75-113.




  1. Wayne, M. (1994) ‘Television, Audiences, Politics’ in Hood, S. (ed) Behind the Screen, pp. 43-64.


Week 6 - : The Audience at Home: Audience, Domesticity and Gender

This lecture looks at the most important aspects of media use in the home environment. How gender, domestic leisure and family viewing affect media consumption.


Core Reading


  1. Ang, I. and Hermes, J. (1991) ‘Gender and/in Media Consumption in J. Curran and M. Gurevitch (eds.) Mass Media and Society, 2cnd edition, London: Arnold.




  1. Cubitt, S. (1985) ‘The politics of the living room’ in Masterman, L. (ed.) TV Mythologies.




  1. Morley, D. (1988) ‘Domestic relations: the framework of family viewing in Great Britain’ in Dickinson, R. et al. (eds) Approaches to Audiences’, pp 233-244




  1. Stacey, J. (1994) Star Gazing: Hollywood cinema and female spectatorship, London: Routledge, ‘Introduction’.


Supplementary Reading


  1. Ang, I. (1985) Watching Dallas: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination, London: Methuen.




  1. Allor, M. (1995) ‘Relocating the site of the audience’ in Boyd-Barrett, O. and Newbold, C. (eds.) Approaches to Media, pp. 543-553.




  1. Barker, M. (1998) ‘Critique: audiences ‘R’ us’ in Dickinson, R. et al. (eds.) Approaches to Audiences, pp. 184-191.




  1. Frazer, E. (1992) ‘Teenage girls reading Jackie’ in Scannell, P. et al. (eds) Culture and Power, pp. 182-200.




  1. Geertz, C. (1973) ‘Introduction’ and ‘Thick Description’, The Interpretation of Cultures, New York: Basic Books.




  1. Geraghty, C. (1996) ‘Feminism and Media Consumption’ in J. Curran, D. Morley and V. Walkedine (eds.) Cultural Studies and Communications London: Arnold.




  1. Gillespie, M. (1995) Television, Ethnicity and Cultural Change, London and New York: Routledge.




  1. Gray, A. (1992) Video Playtime: The Gendering of a Leisure Technology, London: Routledge




  1. Gray, A. (1999) ‘Audience and Reception Research in Retrospect: the Trouble with Audiences’, Alasuutari, P. (ed) Rethinking the Media Audience, London: Sage.




  1. Gray, A. (1995) ‘I Want to Tell You a Story: The Narratives of Video Playtime’, in B. Skeggs (ed.) Feminist Cultural Theory: Process and Production, Manchester: Manchester University Press.




  1. Hallam, J. and Marshment, M. (1995) ‘Framing Experience: Case Studies in the Reception of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit’ Screen, 36 (1) 1 – 15.




  1. Hobson, D. (1982) Crossroads: The Drama of a Soap Opera, London: Methuen.




  1. Hobson, D. (1989) ‘Soap opera fans at work’ in E. Seiter, H. Borchers, G. Kruetzner and E.-M. Warth (eds.) Remote Control: Television, Audiences and Cultural Power, London: Routledge.




  1. Lull, J. (1990) ‘The social uses of television’ in his book Inside Family Viewing: Ethnographic Research on Television’s Audiences, pp. 28-48.




  1. Lull, J (1989) World Families Watch Television. See Chapters 1-3.




  1. McQuigan, J. (1992) Cultural Populism, London: Routledge.




  1. Moores, S. (1996) Satellite Television and Everyday Life, see Chapters 1-3, pp. 4-35.




  1. Morley, D. (1992) ‘Gender, domestic leisure and viewing practices’ Part III of his book Television, Audiences and Cultural Studies, pp. 131-169.




  1. Morley, D. (1992) ‘Domestic communication: technologies and meanings’ in his book Television, Audiences and Cultural Studies, pp. 201-212.




  1. Murdock, G. et al. (1995) ‘Contextualising Home Computing: Resources and Practices’ in Heap, N. et al. (eds) Information Technology and Society: A Reader, pp. 269-283.




  1. Murdock, G. (1997) ‘Thin Descriptions: Questions of Methods in Cultural Analysis’, in McGuigan, J. (ed.) Cultural Methodologies, London: Sage.




  1. Nightingale, V. (1996) Studying Audiences: The Shock of the Real, London: Routledge.




  1. Radway, J. (1987) Reading the Romance. Women, Patriarchy and Popular Literature.




  1. Seiter, E. (1995) ‘Mothers watching children watching TV’, in B. Skeggs (ed.) Feminist Cultural Theory: Process and Production, Manchester, Manchester University Press.




  1. Seiter, E. (1989b) ‘Don’t Treat Us Like We’re So Stupid and Naïve’ in Remote Control: Television, Audiences and Cultural Power, London: Routledge.




  1. Seiter, E. (1990) ‘Making Distinctions in Television Audience Research’ Cultural Studies 4 (1): 61 – 84. (Also in her book - Television and New Media Audiences, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999.)




  1. Silverstone, R. (1990) ‘Television and Everyday Life: Towards an Anthropology of the Television Audience’ in Ferguson, M. (Ed.) Public Communication: The New Imperatives, pp. 173-205.


Week 7 - Measuring Audiences: The Role of the Media Industry

This session explores the ways in which the broadcasting industry measures and tracks its audiences and looks at the kinds of knowledge these practices produce. It will also consider the academic theories about the industry’s view of the audience. Do the media deliver audiences to advertisers? Are the media slaves to audience ratings?



Core Reading





  1. Ang I (1990) Desperately Seeking the Audience, London: Routledge.




  1. Gunter, B. (1999) Media Research Methods: measuring audiences, reactions and impacts, London: Sage.




  1. Hagen, I. (1999) ‘Slaves of the Ratings Tyranny? Media Images of the Audience’ in Alasuutari, P (ed.) Rethinking the Media Audience, London: Sage, pp. 130-150.




  1. Schulz, W. (2000) ‘Television Audiences’ in Wieten, J. (et al.) (eds) Television Across Europe, pp. 112-134.




  1. Smythe, D. (1995) ‘On the audience commodity and its work’ in Boyd-Barrett, O. & Newbold, C. Approaches to Media: A Reader, London: Arnold, pp. 222-228.



Supplementary Reading





  1. Ang, I (1996) ‘New Technologies, Audience Measurement and the Tactics of Television Consumption, in her book Living Room Wars, pp. 53-65.




  1. Barnard, S. (2000) ‘Listening – Measurement and Meaning’ in Studying Radio, pp. 85-106.




  1. BBC (2003) ‘About the BBC: Purposes and Values’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/purpose/




  1. Ettema, J.S., Whitney, C.D. (eds) (1994) Audience Making: How the Media Create the Audience, London: Sage.




  1. Fowles, J. (1992) ‘How it happens that viewers get what they want’ in his book, Why Viewers Watch, pp. 60-88.




  1. Hagen, I. (1999) ‘Slaves of the Ratings Tyranny? Media Images of the Audience’ in Alasuutari, P (ed.) Rethinking The Media Audience, pp. 130-150.




  1. Hellman, H. (1999) ‘Legitimations of television programme policies: patterns of argumentation and discursive convergences in a multichannel age’ in Alasuutari, P (ed.) Rethinking The Media Audience, London: Sage, pp. 105-129.




  1. Stoessl, S. (1998) ‘Administrative research of Audiences’ in Briggs, A. and Cobley, P. (eds) The Media: An Introduction, pp. 250-261.




  1. Morley, D. ‘Behind the ratings: the politics of audience research’ in Willis, J and Wollen, T (eds), The Neglected Audience, pp 5-14.




  1. McQuail, D. (1997) ‘Questions of Media Reach’ in Audience Analysis, pp. 43-64.




  1. McQuail, D. (1997) ‘Questions of Media Reach’ in his book Audience Analysis, London: Sage, pp. 43-64.




  1. Meehan, E. (1992) ‘Why we don’t count: the commodity audience’ in Patricia Mellencamp (ed) Logics of Television, pp 117-137.




  1. Sharot, T. ‘Measuring Television Audiences in the UK’ in Kent R. (ed) Measuring Media Audiences.




  1. Smythe, D. (1995) ‘On the audience commodity and its work’ in Boyd-Barret, O. & Newbold, C. Approaches to Media, pp 222-228




  1. Stoessl, S. (1998) ‘Administrative Research of Audiences’ in Briggs, A. and Cobley, P. (eds.) The Media: An Introduction, Harlow: Pearson, pp. 250-261.




  1. Webster, J. G. (2005) Beneath the veneer of fragmentation: Television audience polarization in a multichannel world. Journal of Communication, 55(2), 366-382.


Week 8 - Race, Identity and Media Consumption

In this lecture we look at the impact of race on audience’s consumption and interpretations of media output, applying the different paradigms. This lecture will consider the ways in which one’s race or ethnic background might impact on media interpretation.


Core Reading


  1. Liebes, T. (1998) ‘Cultural difference in the retelling of television fiction’ in Dickenson, R., Harindranath, R. & Linné, O. (eds.) Approaches to Audiences: A Reader, London: Arnold, pp. 272-282




  1. Harindranath, R. (1998) ‘Documentary meanings and interpretive contexts: observations on Indian “repertoires”’, in Dickinson, R., Harindranath, R. & Linné, O. (eds.) Approaches to Audiences: A Reader, London: Arnold, pp. 283-297.


Supplementary Reading


  1. Ang, I., Chalmers, S., Law, L., & Thomas, M. (eds.)(2000) Alter/Asians: Asian-Australian Identity in Art, Media and Popular Culture, Annandale: Pluto.




  1. Bobo, J. (1995) Black Women as Cultural Readers, New York: Columbia University Press.




  1. Castells, M. (1997) The Power of Identity, Oxford: Blackwell.




  1. Cashmore, E. (1997) The Black Culture Industry, London: Routledge.




  1. Delaney, P., (1997) “Gangsta Rap” and the “New Vaudeville; in Dennis, E., & Pease, E. C. (eds.) The Media in Black and White, New Brunswick, N. J.: Transaction Publishers, pp. 83-88.




  1. Dijk, T. A. (1991) Racism and the Press, London: Routledge.




  1. Dines, G. & Humez, J. M. (2002) Gender, Race and Class in Media: a text reader, London: Sage, (chapter 29, pp. 283-292; chapter 39, pp. 396-405; chapter 55, pp. 586-596).




  1. Downing, J. (2005) Representing Race: racism, ethnicities and media, London: Sage.




  1. Dyer, R. (1997) White, London: Routledge.




  1. Gabriel, J., (1996) ‘What do you do when minority means you? Falling Down and the construction of whiteness, Screen 37:2.




  1. Gabriel, J., (1998) Whitewash: racialized politics and the media, London: Routledge.




  1. Kellstedt, P. M. (2003) The Mass Media and the Dynamics of American Racial Attitudes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.




  1. Law, I. (2002) Race in the News, Basingstoke: Palgrave.




  1. Osgerby, B. (1998) Youth in Britain Since 1945, Oxford: Blackwell.




  1. Pearson, Geoffrey (1983) Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears,

  2. Macmillan: London.




  1. Ross, K., Playdon, P. (eds.) (2001) Black Marks: Minority Ethnic Audiences and Media, London: Ashgate Publishing.




  1. Springhall, John (1998) Youth, Popular Culture and Moral Panics: Penny Gaffs to Gangsta-Rap, 1830-1996, Basingstoke: Macmillan.




  1. Shohat, E. & Stam, R. (1994) Unthinking Eurocentrism: multiculturalism and the media, London: Routledge.




  1. Sreberny, A. (1999) Include me in: rethinking ethnicity on television: audience and production perspectives, GB: Broadcasting Standards Commission.




  1. Ward, B. (2001) Media, Culture and the Modern African American Freedom Struggle, Gainsville: University Press of Florida.


Week 9 - Audiences, Fans and Fandom

In this lecture we will discuss the history and evolution of fandom and celebrity culture. We will apply the different media paradigms to come to an understanding of why humans have craved for fame and discuss how celebrity culture has not only taken over media productions, but the audience as well. From being considered as dysfunctional and antisocial, fans are now characterised as active and creative. This lecture examines the pleasures of being an ‘adoring audience’, looking at fan behaviour from within the different paradigms.



Core Reading





  1. Abercrombie, N. and Longhurst, B. (1998) ‘Fans and Enthusiasts’ in Audiences, pp. 121-158.

Jenkins, H. (1992) ‘Get a Life!: Fans, Poachers, Nomads’, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, London and New York: Routledge.




  1. McCutcheon, Lange & Houran (2002). Conceptualization and measurement of celebrity worship. British Journal of Psychology, 93(1):67-87.




  1. Rojek, C. (2001) ‘Ascribed, Achieved and Attributed Celebrity, Celebrity, London: Reaktion.




  1. Turner, G. (2004) ‘consuming celebrity (chapter 6’ in Understanding Celebrity, London: Sage, pp. 109-127.

Supplementary Reading





  1. Barabas, S. (2001) ‘the Movie Star Fan Club’ in Movie Crazy: fans, stars and the cult of celebrity, New York: Palgrave, pp. 109 – 134.




  1. Barker, M. (1993) ‘The Bill Clinton Fan Syndrome’ Media, Culture and Society, 15: 669 – 673.




  1. Barker, M. and Brooks, K. (1998) Knowing Audiences: Judge Dredd: Its Friends, Fans and Foes.




  1. Baym, N. (1998) ‘Talking About Soaps: Communicative Practices in a Computer- Mediated Fan Culture’, in C. Harris, and A. Alexander (eds.) Theorizing Fandom: Fans, Subculture and Identity, Cresskill, N.J.: Hampton Press.




  1. Bourdieu, P. (1993) The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature, Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 29-144.




  1. Brower, S. (1992) ‘Fans as Tastemakers: Viewers for Quality Television’ in L. Lewis (ed.) The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media, London and New York: Routledge.




  1. Ehrenreich, B. et al. (1992) ‘Beatlemania: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ in Lewis, L. (ed.) The Adoring Audience.




  1. Brown, M.E. & Barwick, L. (1987). Fables and endless genealogies: soap opera and women’s culture. Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture, 1(2): 71-82.




  1. Fiske, J. (1992) ‘The Cultural Economy of Fandom’ in L. Lewis (ed.) The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media, London: Routledge




  1. Fowles, Jib (1992) Starstruck: celebrity performers and the American public, Washington/ London: Smithsonian Institution Press.




  1. Giles, D. (2000) Illusions of Immortality, MacMillan, Chapter 8, pp. 128-145




  1. Gwenllian Jones, S. (2000) ‘Starring Lucy Lawless?’ Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, Vol. 14. No. 1, 9 – 22




  1. Hill, M. (2002) Fan Cultures, London: Routledge.




  1. Hinerman, S. (1990) ‘I’ll Be Here With You’: Fans, Fantasy and the Figure of Elvis’ in Lewis, L. (ed.) The Adoring Audience, pp. 107-134.




  1. Jenkins, H. (1992) Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture.




  1. Jenson, J. (1992) ‘Fandom as Pathology: The Consequences of Characterisation’ in Lewis, L. (ed.) The Adoring Audience.




  1. McCutcheon LE, Ashe DD, Houran J, Maltby J. (2003). A cognitive profile of individuals who tend to worship celebrities. Journal of Psychology, 137(4):309-22.




  1. Maltby, J., Houran J. & McCutcheon, L.E. (2003). A clinical interpretation of attitudes and behaviors associated with celebrity worship. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders, 191(1):25-9.




  1. McCracken, G. (1989). Who is the Celebrity Endorser? Cultural Foundations of the Endorsement Process. Journal of Consumer Research, 16(3): 310-321

  2. Schlesinger, L.B.: Celebrity stalking, homicide, and suicide: a psychological autopsy. Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2006 Feb;50(1):39-46.




  1. Moores, S. (1993) ‘Taste, Context and Ethnographic Practice’ in his book Interpreting Audiences, pp. 54-69.




  1. Stacey, J. (1994) ‘With Stars in Their Eyes: Female Spectators and the Paradoxes of Consumption’ in Star Gazing: Hollywood Cinema and Female Spectatorship, London: Routledge, pp. 179 – 223.




  1. Stever, G.S. (1991). The celebrity appeal questionnaire. Psychological reports  68 (1): 859-866 



Week 10 - New Media Audiences: Interactivity and Fragmentation

This lecture examines the role that new information and communication technologies are playing in re-shaping our understanding of media audiences and the extent to which it is replacing or complementing the audience for traditional communications media. Now that audiences can also be producers of content through blogs, wikis and their own home pages, what does such a change signal mean for understanding audiences, media effects and the very notion of a ‘mass media’?



Core Reading





  1. Brooker, W. (2001) ‘Living on Dawson’s Creek: Teen viewers, cultural convergence and television overflow’ in International Journal of Cultural Studies vol 4(4) pp 456-472




  1. Hine, C. (2001) ‘Web pages, authors and audiences: the meaning of a mouse click’ in Information, Communication and Society vol 4(2) pp 192-198




  1. Livingston, S. ‘The challenge of changing audiences – Or, what is the audience researcher to do in the age of the Internet?’ European Journal of Communication 19(1): 75-86.




  1. Roscoe, T. (1999) ‘The construction of the World Wide Web audience.’ Media, Culture & Society 21: 673-684.




  1. Tewksbury, D. (2005) The seeds of audience fragmentation: specialization in the use of online news sites.   Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 49 (3) p332 (17). 



Supplementary Reading





  1. Andrews, D., Nonnecke, B. & Preece, J.(2003) ‘Electronic survey methodology: A case study in reaching hard-to-involve Internet users.’ International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction. 16 (2): 185-210.




  1. Bailey, S. (2002) ‘Virtuality and the television audience: the case of Futurama’ in Communication Review, vol 5(3) pp 239-256




  1. Bargh, J. A. & McKenna, K. Y. A. (2004) ‘The Internet and Social Life’ Annual Review of Psychology 55: 573-590.




  1. Farnsworth, S. J. and Owen, D. (2004). ‘Internet use and the 2000 presidential election’ Electoral Studies 23 (3): 415-429.




  1. Hine, C. (2001) ‘Web pages, authors and audiences: the meaning of a mouse click’ in Information, Communication and Society vol. 4(2) pp 192-198.




  1. Jones, S. (ed.) (1999) Doing Internet Research: Critical Issues and Methods for Examining the Net, London: Sage.




  1. Lowery, W. & Anderson, W. (2005) ‘The journalist behind the curtain: Participatory functions on the Internet and their impact on perceptions of the work of journalism’ Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 10 (3) 2005.




  1. Lievrouw, L. A. and Livingston, S. Eds. (2006) The Handbook of New Media London: Sage.




  1. McChesney, H. (2003) ‘The Titanic Sails On: Why the Internet Won’t Sink the Media Giants, in Dines, G., & Humez, J. M. Gender, Race, and Class in Media, London: Sage, pp.677-683.




  1. Mortensen, T. and Walker, J. (2002) ‘Blogging Thoughts: personal publication as an online research tool’, in (Eds.) Researching ICTs in context’ Online publication




  1. Siapera, E. (2004) ‘From couch potatoes to cybernauts? The expanding notion of the audience on TV channels and websites.’ New Media and Society 6(2) 155-172.




  1. Turkle, S. (1996) Life on the Screen: Identity in the age of the Internet. London: Widenfeld and Nicholson




  1. Wright, K. B. (2005). ‘Research Internet-Based Populations: Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Survey Research, Online Questionnaire Authoring Software Packages, and Web Survey Services.’ Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 10(3).



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