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The Uses And Gratifications Theory Essay

1529 words - 7 pages

The Uses and Gratifications’ Theory

What is Uses and gratifications theory?

The uses and gratification theory was first discovered by an Israeli Psychologist, Elihu Katz in 1959, reacting to a research that answered the question “what do the media do to people?” He led the argument that there should be less attention paid to what the media do to people and more attention on what people do with the media. Mass media audiences are assumed to be active participants in the interaction between the mass medium and the audience. This implies that uses and gratifications research focuses on audiences’ motives for selecting certain media and media content.

He cited a study by interviewing ...view middle of the document...

Elliot and Rosenberg concluded that much of mass media use might be merely a matter of habit. They carried a study in which people indicated that they watched some soap operators out of habit which they enjoyed doing. Due to social and psychological differences, individuals’ needs differ. This results in different uses of the mass media and consequently, different levels of gratifications being obtained.

In recent years the theory has been extended and adapted to match the modernisation of media texts; with many more forms of media for the public the consume.

Reasons why audiences might absorb media texts.

The extent to which an audience engages with a media text can be roughly split into three degrees.
The first of these is primary involvement, in which the audience is solely concentrating on consuming the media text; for example, sitting down solely to watch a favourite program on television. Secondary involvement is when an audience's concentration is split between the media text and another distraction; for example, working on the computer while watching television. Tertiary involvement is when the media text is merely in the background, with no real concentration upon it at all; for example, glancing at a newspaper on a crowded train.
While this theory is somewhat simplistic, it provides a clear and probable explanation as to the changes in audience reception.

In 1974 Bulmer and Katz expanded the Uses and Gratifications theory and suggested four subsequent reasons explaining why audiences may consume various media texts.
The four explanations are as follows:

Diversion- The need for people to escape the reality of their everyday lives and routines. This may involve various forms of media such as watching a fantasy film, examples of which could be Twilight, Fantastic Four and Spiderman. Vast audiences have watched all these films to escape their everyday lives and relax, yet they know that no matter how many times they watch these out of the ordinary films Vampires, Werewolves and Superheroes created by radioactivity will never exist.
Another way this theory can be shown in a completely antagonistic view is through music. The public is almost constantly using music as a way of escaping their everyday lives. Attending a live music concert is something that can not be experienced everyday, when a person attends a concert of their favourite artist there is something somewhat magical that occurs. Suddenly every problem disappears and that person is engulfed in the beauty of the music, stolen away from every heartache and disappointment and all that matters in the world is happening right there and then.

Personal relationships.- This division of the theory can often be seen in people who consume the media for emotional and other alike interactions. Perhaps the most common being the modern day soap operas being substituted for family life. Soap operas easily dramatise the idea of every day life. In these media texts the...

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