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April 23, 2018 / C H Thompson

Uses and Gratifications Model

  • McQuail and Lull suggest the audience uses the media, rather than the media using it’s audience, for their own gratification – hence the term ‘uses and gratifications’
  • Media audiences use the media for:
  • Diversion – relaxation and leisure purposes
  • Personal relationships – audiences use the media to create common-bonds of discussion between people through programmes like X-Factor – this has grown through new media platforms like Facebook
  • Background wallpaper – have TV/radio etc on while doing other things
  • Park’s (2009) research found Facebook users used the social media platform for a variety of reasons (uses and gratifications)
  • The diversity of reasons Park uncovered illustrates the conscious choices people make depending on what people intend using the media for
  • Therefore sociologists can’t assume that the uses and effects even of the same media content will be the same for everyone
  • The uses and gratifications are influenced by social-class, age, gender, ethnicity and prior experiences
  • Individuals have the power to decide what media they’re drawn to and if some media companies fail to deliver the ‘right’ content they risk going out of business – pluralist view

Problems (evaluation) with uses and gratifications model

  • It overestimates the power of the audience in shaping media content as media companies set the choices we have. For example there’s very little media content denouncing consumerist ideology as advertising revenue is what keeps a lot of media companies afloat
  • It fails to recognise the power of group dynamics which shape individual choices which the two-step-flow and cultural effects do
  • It fails to recognise the power of social factors shaping the way audiences react to media content. For example by focusing too much on individual reactions it fails to explain why so many men pay for cable football
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