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Saturday, 31 March 2012

USES AND GRATIFICATIONS Theory

Posted by Josephine Baba On 08:13 No comments


Introduction: The core question of this theory is Why do people use media and what do they got use media for them. There exists a basic idea in this approach: audience members know media content, and which media they can use to meet their needs.

 It suggests that people’s needs influence what media they would choose, how they use certain media and what gratifications the media give them.  The approach emphasizes audiences’ reasons for using a certain media to the disregard of others. And the various gratifications obtained from the media, based on individual social and psychological requirements.
Origin and History - The Hypodermic Needle model, discusses that “the mass media have a direct, immediate and influential effect upon audiences by ‘injecting’ information into the consciousness of the masses”.  In these Uses & gratification studies, researchers discovered a list of functions served either by some specific content or by the medium itself. For instance, Television soap operas were found to satisfy their listeners with advice, support, or occasions for emotional; rather than just offering information. The newspaper was also discovered to be important to give readers a sense of security, shared topics of conversation and a structure to the daily routine
Uses and gratifications approach became prevailing in the 1970s and it was rediscovered during by Elihu Katz the structure of the approachElihu Katz is served both as a sociologist and as a communication researcher. They also discovered that media served the functions of surveillance, correlation, entertainment and cultural transmission for both society and individuals.
Five basic assumptions
1.The audience is conceived as active: i.e., an important part of mass media use is assumed to be goal oriented.  Patterns of media use are shaped by more or less definite expectations of what certain kinds of content have to offer the audience member.


2. Audience gratification: In the mass communication process, much initiative connected with the need and  gratification of audience and the media choice lies with the audience member. 

3. Depend on Audience response: People are sufficiently self-aware to be able to report their interests and motives in particular cases, or at least to recognize them when confronted with them in an intelligible and familiar verbal formulation.

4. Culture of Audience: The cultural significance of audience also influences the gratification and need of mass communication. Different people can use the same communication message for very different purposes. The same media content may gratify different needs for different individuals. There is not only one way that people uses media; contrarily, there are as many reasons for using the media as their basic needs, social situation, and the individual’s background, such as experience, interests, and education, affect people’s ideas about what they want from media and which media best meet their needs. That is, audience members are aware of and can state their own motives and gratifications for using different media.
McQuail’s (1983) classification of the following common reasons for media use:
Information: finding out about relevant events and conditions in immediate surroundings, society and the world ,seeking advice on practical matters or opinion and decision choices ,satisfying curiosity and general interest ,learning; self-education ,gaining a sense of security through knowledge. 


Personal Identity : People use the media to finding reinforcement for personal values ,finding models of behavior ,identifying with valued others (in the media) ,gaining insight into oneself.
Integration and Social Interaction: The main gratification the uses of media is  gaining insight into the circumstances of others; social empathy, identifying with others and gaining a sense of belonging, finding a basis for conversation and social interaction, having a substitute for real-life companionship, helping to carry out social roles, enabling one to connect with family, friends and society. 


Entertainment: The one of the main media content usage is escaping, or being diverted, from problems, relaxing, getting intrinsic cultural or aesthetic enjoyment, filling time, emotional release, sexual arousal.
Criticisms of Uses and Gratifications Research 


Although uses and gratifications approach holds a significant status in communication research, the research of the approach receives criticisms both on its theory and methodology represented.  McQuail (1994) commented that the approach has not provided much successful prediction or casual explanation of media choice and use.
The researchers criticized uses and gratifications approach in such three aspects:


1.It is highly individualistic, taking into account only the individual psychological gratification derived from individual media use. The social context of the media use tends to be ignored. This overlooks the fact that some media use may have nothing to do with the pursuit of gratification - it may be forced upon us for example.


2.There is relatively little attention paid to media content, researchers attending to why people use the media, but less to what meanings they actually get out of their media use.


3. The approach starts from the view that the media Uses and gratifications research focus on the fact relied heavily on self-reports. Self-reports, however, are based on personal memory which can be problematic. As such, the respondents might inaccurately recall how they behave in media use and thus bend might occur in the study.

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