Audience Research

Audience is often defined by demographics, the age, race, gender, ethnicity, social class and even social groups your average audience member is expected to be. This would effect the final outcome of the media you create depending on whom the piece is created for. In film this would effect what types of music you use, the actors you chose, the settings you film in ect. However, audience has other components that would effect the film you are creating. For example if your audience is a passive or active audience. The passive audience will consume media without questioning its content, its meaning or its reliability. Will aimlessly consume media and will oftentimes ‘buy into’ the media, be it through buying things they see in television ads to undoubtedly believing the stereotypes the media teaches them to believe.The active audience, on the other hand, will question and discuss the content of the media they consume, will actively search for media that gratifies them, will do their own research on content and issues brought up in the media that they are consuming. They are purposefully invested into the media in a way that allows them to question it further.

There are theories of film as well as the theories of the audience that consume the film.

The “Hypodermic Needle theory” implied that media acted as a ‘hypodermic needle’ that has the capacity to ‘inject’ the minds of the public with information, propaganda and ideology. The mass media in the 1940s and 1950s were perceived as a powerful influence on behavior change, although this may not be all down to the media, as it this point in time other factors contributed to the change of society, such as the end of the second world war.

The Two Step Flow theory suggests that media is absorbed by the general public, however opinion leaders are the ones that pass on their own thoughts and ideas about the media that they just absorbed. The theory assumes that the majority of the audience is passive, and therefore simply listens to what they’re told and believe in whatever they see or hear in the media. The Minority of the audience is active and take their time to reach their own opinion on the media, and therefore pass it on.

Reception Analysis theory is an approach to textual analysis which puts more emphasis on the audience, as the audience consume the media text, they are defining what it means. The individual who is consuming the media text uses their own experience in order to make sense of the media. They put the media into context for themselves based off of their own beliefs, values, morals and experiences. Therefore, people with similar socio-cultural backgrounds are likely to make similar readings of the same texts.

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